Top tips for building muscle

This week we asked London based personal trainer and nutrition expert Myles Hopper for his top tips on building muscle. Myles has trained many different clients with many different goals ranging from professional athletes, models, businessmen, parents, children and people who just want to look and feel better. His extensive research has led him to being featured in The Daily Mail and Shortlist Magazine.

Lifting Weights in the Gym 


So what is his approach…

My attitude towards training is simple; it takes hard work and dedication, but must be fun and enjoyable. I have been involved in sports from a very young age which led to me playing rugby across Europe and Australia. This love of sport encouraged me to learn the fundamental basics of fitness and strength training, in particular applying them to sport specific goals. Extensive training, reading and evaluation has allowed me to make the mistakes so you don’t have to. I specialise in helping people lose body fat and tone up to create the body they want. Each plan is tailored to your specific goals based around a personalised approach to make the programme suit you!


1.   Get a programme and stick to it

One of the most common mistakes I come across is people not following a good programme. A lot of people go to the gym and don’t have a clear idea of what they’re in there to do. Instead of having a clear plan their approach is “Maybe I’ll do some chest and guns today.” The difference here is rather than training they are merely working out. Training implies there is an end goal – in our case to build muscle. You can only build muscle by making progress in the gym each week, whether it be lifting heavier weights or managing more repetitions. To get the best out of your effort, the programme must be designed with the intention of improving/getting stronger every week.


2.   Keep a training journal

Following on from the previous point of getting a good programme, ensure that you keep a training journal. Note down every set, every repetition and every weight that you lift. You can only progress by lifting more total volume each week. Whether that is by increasing the weight or increasing the reps is up to you and the perimeters of the programme. If you don’t keep track then you never know how to improve and you can’t see how far you have progressed.


3.   Eat!

If you want to put on size you have to eat. Your body shape (ectomorph, mesomorph or endomorph) will play a huge role in how you should train and how easy it is for you to put on muscle. Nutrient timing (eating) is very important and we want to enhance glucose control and insulin sensitivity. This results in carbohydrates being used to build muscle not fat. The ability to replenish glycogen stores decreases by 50% if you haven’t eaten anything 2 hours post training. Therefore getting good quality carbohydrates and protein in your post workout drink is essential. If you can make your body more sensitive to releasing insulin then you can take advantage of the natural muscle building effects that this incurs. If you are insulin resistant and cannot control the release of insulin, you may be more prone to storing fat. The question is this; how do you make your body more insulin sensitive? Simple, exercise. It is also essential to have a post workout drink. If you do not you are withholding nutrients that prevent you from maximising your insulin sensitised state.


4.   Compound Lifts

Focus on your big lifts. Compound exercises like squats, deadlifts, bench press and barbell rows are all great movements that involve a lot of muscles. Squats are the best core exercise you can do. Having to hold your body in proper alignment while squatting under a heavy bar forces you to use a lot more muscles than simply your legs. Too many beginners forget about compound lifts that use multiple muscle groups and instead focus a lot on isolation exercises like dumbbell curls or cable flyes. The truth is that you will get better results and bigger arms from learning to lift heavy weights doing compound exercises.