1. Set strength goals
Rather than focusing strictly on gaining “X” pounds of muscle—which may or may not be doable in a given period of time—work on getting stronger. Increasing strength improves your body’s ability to recruit muscle fibers, particularly the ones that make the biggest difference in the way your physique looks. Training for strength also makes your goals more tangible and concrete. If you shoot to hit certain numbers on your lifts and then meet them, you’ll see your muscles respond along the way. Choose three exercises you want to see improvement on: one upper-body push (such as the bench press), one upper-body pull (like the chin-up), and one lower-body exercise (try the deadlift), then get to work.
BE THE CHANGE YOU WANT TO SEE IN THE WORLD
2. Keep a food journal
Just as you want to be specific with your training goals and monitor your progress, you also want to keep track of your nutrition. Training hard won’t translate to new muscle unless you’re eating enough calories, and a food journal gives you an objective measure of how much you’re actually eating. It also lets you make adjustments easily if you’re not making the progress you’d hoped for. Write down everything that you eat and drink, along with the time of the day. If you’re not gaining weight, try to see where you can sneak in more calories to kickstart your progress.
You will never be happy if you continue to search for what happiness consists of. You will never live if you are looking for the meaning of life.
3. Focus on compound exercises
Lifts that work muscle at more than one joint are known as compound exercises. These include the deadlift, squat, press, row, and pullups. Compound lifts recruit lots of muscle mass, making for efficient training and a big release of hormones such as testosterone that promote growth—make them the cornerstones of your workouts. There’s nothing wrong with throwing in some isolation work (curls, leg extensions), but treat them like dessert after you’ve had your main course of compound lifts.