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Genetics also plays a part in how large your muscles can get.
There's no holy grail to building bigger, stronger and more ripped muscles. Instead, you must be prepared to rack up a lot of hours at the gym, performing some of the best workouts to build muscle. Nutrition also pays a role in how your body builds and repairs muscle tissue, so pay close attention to what goes on your plate before and after your workout.
Fill Your Plate
To get big and ripped, you'll need to make sure that you're feeding your body the right kind of fuel to build muscle. Start with looking at the amount of calories you're consuming each day. When you're training hard you'll need to consume more calories than your body burns, so aim to add 250 to 500 more calories per day to your daily diet. According to Dr. Steve Fleck, chair of the Sport Science Department at Colorado College, the amount of protein that you consume is also extremely important for supporting muscle build. The average person needs about 0.8 g of protein per kilogram of body weight, but Dr. Fleck recommends consuming between 1.2 to 1.5 g of protein per kilo of body weight per day to help build muscle. Opt for lean protein sources like protein supplements, chicken, fish, tofu, eggs, Greek yogurt and cottage cheese.
Once you hit the gym, you'll need to focus predominantly on strength training workouts to build muscle. Take your pick between bodyweight workouts, exercise machines and weighted exercises with dumbbells, a barbell, medicine ball or kettlebell. Bodyweight exercises like pushups, plank pose, squats and lunges can be combined with weights to increase the intensity of the exercise. The harder your muscles have to work, the more muscular gains you'll see. With each set, make sure to exercise your muscles until it's too difficult to perform another repetition. Then, take a short break of 15 to 30 seconds before performing another set. Aim for three to four days of strength training workouts, either splitting your days according to body parts -- back and chest, legs and abs, arms and shoulders -- or work your whole body during each session. Allow for one full day of rest between strength training sessions.
Plyometrics are explosive workouts that build muscle and as Dr. James E. Graves in the book "Wear and Tear" argues "are extremely effective at building muscular power." Consider adding two days of plyometric exercises to your weekly strength training workouts to increase muscle mass and explosive power. Jump squats, jump lunges, single-leg hops, double-leg hops, frog jumps and explosive jumping jacks are all typical plyometrics workouts. Just like weight training, be sure to work your muscles to the point of fatigue with every set. For example, perform as many jump squats as you can until your muscles are too tired to continue. If you don't tire in a 30-second interval, try adding weights to increase the intensity.
The American Council on Exercise performed an independent study to find out the fitness merit of popular metabolic conditioning workout programs, like CrossFit, P90X, Insanity and Rushfit and found that each program is effective at building muscle and shedding fat. The exercises themselves are a combination of typical strength training, plyometric and cardiovascular exercises that you could easily perform yourself at the gym or at home. The difference is that a workout program takes the guesswork out of building bigger muscles -- you simply have to pop in the DVD or show up to a CrossFit class and follow along.