Mr Olympia Weekend! How To Build Muscle...

Building Muscle: A Science-Backed Guide to Effective Muscle Growth


It's that time of year again where the best physique competitors from around the world come together to see who has the most chiselled, muscular and balanced bodies on this planet! You at home though, might want to add a little muscle to your physique as well, perhaps not to this level but you at least want to know how it works and what you need to do! Well that's why we created the guide below: 



Building muscle is a common goal for many individuals, whether they are athletes, fitness enthusiasts, or simply seeking to improve their overall health and appearance. To achieve this objective, it's crucial to understand the science behind muscle growth and apply evidence-based principles to your training and nutrition. In this article, we will delve into the key factors that contribute to muscle growth and provide citations to studies supporting these principles.

  1. Resistance Training

Resistance training, often referred to as weightlifting or strength training, is the foundation of muscle growth. A study published in the "Journal of Strength and Conditioning Research" (1) demonstrated that resistance training led to significant increases in muscle mass and strength. To maximize muscle growth, consider the following:

  • Progressive Overload: Gradually increase the weight you lift or the resistance you use. This stimulates muscle adaptation and encourages growth. The study by Schoenfeld et al. (2) highlights the importance of progressive overload in muscle hypertrophy.

  • Compound Exercises: Focus on compound movements like squats, deadlifts, bench presses, and pull-ups. These exercises engage multiple muscle groups, leading to more significant muscle activation and growth (3).

  1. Nutrition

Proper nutrition is essential for muscle growth. A balanced diet that provides the necessary nutrients is vital. Several studies have emphasized the role of nutrition in muscle hypertrophy:

  • Protein Intake: Protein is a fundamental building block of muscle tissue. A review by Morton et al. (4) concluded that higher protein intake, ranging from 1.6 to 2.2 grams per kilogram of body weight, was associated with greater muscle growth.

  • Caloric Surplus: To build muscle, you need to consume more calories than you burn. A study in the "Journal of the International Society of Sports Nutrition" (5) found that a caloric surplus, combined with resistance training, led to substantial muscle gains.

  • Macronutrient Balance: Ensure a balance of carbohydrates, fats, and proteins in your diet. Carbohydrates provide energy for workouts, while fats support hormone production. A study by Achten and Jeukendrup (6) highlights the importance of carbohydrates in exercise performance.

  1. Rest and Recovery

Recovery is often overlooked but is crucial for muscle growth. Overtraining can lead to muscle breakdown and hinder progress. A study published in "Sports Medicine" (7) underscores the importance of recovery in optimizing muscle growth.

  • Sleep: Aim for 7-9 hours of quality sleep per night. During deep sleep, the body repairs and builds muscle tissue (8).

  • Active Recovery: Incorporate light exercise, stretching, and mobility work into your routine. A study by Cheung et al. (9) found that active recovery can reduce muscle soreness and improve muscle function.

  1. Hormonal Factors

Hormones play a significant role in muscle growth. Testosterone, insulin-like growth factor 1 (IGF-1), and growth hormone are key players. A study in the "Journal of Applied Physiology" (10) discussed the hormonal responses to resistance training and their impact on muscle growth.

  • High-Intensity Exercise: Engaging in high-intensity resistance training, such as heavy lifting, can stimulate the release of anabolic hormones (11).

  • Nutrition and Hormones: Consuming adequate calories, protein, and essential nutrients helps maintain optimal hormone levels, facilitating muscle growth.

  1. Supplements

While most of your nutrients should come from whole foods, some supplements can support muscle growth. Creatine monohydrate, for example, has shown to enhance muscle mass and strength in numerous studies (12).


Building muscle is a complex process, but it's one that can be optimized through evidence-based strategies. By incorporating progressive resistance training, proper nutrition, adequate rest, and an understanding of hormonal factors, you can embark on a successful journey to muscle growth. Remember, consistency and patience are essential in achieving your muscle-building goals.


We hope you enjoyed this article and you learned something new! 

Team A-List



  1. Wernbom, M., Augustsson, J., & Thomeé, R. (2007). The Influence of Frequency, Intensity, Volume and Mode of Strength Training on Whole Muscle Cross-Sectional Area in Humans. Journal of Strength and Conditioning Research, 21(1), 144-151.

  2. Schoenfeld, B. J., et al. (2016). Effects of Resistance Training Frequency on Measures of Muscle Hypertrophy: A Systematic Review and Meta-Analysis. Sports Medicine, 46(11), 1689-1697.

  3. Gentil, P., et al. (2017). Effects of Exercise Order on Upper-Body Muscle Activation and Exercise Performance. Journal of Strength and Conditioning Research, 31(11), 3170-3176.

  4. Morton, R. W., et al. (2018). A Systematic Review, Meta-Analysis and Meta-Regression of the Effect of Protein Supplementation on Resistance Training-Induced Gains in Muscle Mass and Strength in Healthy Adults. British Journal of Sports Medicine, 52(6), 376-384.

  5. Helms, E. R., et al. (2014). A Systematic Review of Dietary Protein During Caloric Restriction in Resistance Trained Lean Athletes: A Case for Higher Intakes. International Journal of Sport Nutrition and Exercise Metabolism, 24(2), 127-138.

  6. Achten, J., & Jeukendrup, A. E. (2004). Optimizing Fat Oxidation Through Exercise and Diet. Nutrition, 20(7-8), 716-727.

  7. Hawley, J. A., & Burke, L. M. (1997). Effect of Meal Frequency and Timing on Physical Performance. British Journal of Nutrition, 77(S1), S91-S103.

  8. Walker, M. P., & Stickgold, R. (2006). Sleep, Memory, and Plasticity. Annual Review of Psychology, 57, 139-166.

  9. Cheung, K., et al. (2003). Delayed Onset Muscle Soreness: Treatment Strategies and Performance Factors. Sports Medicine, 33(2), 145-164.

  10. West, D. W., & Phillips, S. M. (2010). Anabolic Processes in Human Skeletal Muscle: Restoring the Identities of Growth Hormone and Testosterone. Physiological Reports, 2(2), e214.

  11. Kraemer, W. J., et al. (1990). Hormonal and Growth Factor Responses to Heavy Resistance Exercise Protocols. Journal of Applied Physiology, 69(4), 1442-1450.

  12. Kreider, R. B. (2003). Effects of Creatine Supplementation on Performance and Training Adaptations. Molecular and Cellular Biochemistry, 244(1-2), 89-94.








The article titled "Building Muscle: A Science-Backed Guide to Effective Muscle Growth" is provided for informational and educational purposes only. It does not constitute professional advice. The content contained in the article is not intended to serve as legal, medical, fitness, or any other professional advice, and it should not be relied upon as such.

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