When we talk about building muscle, we're usually talking about adding lean muscle to our physique or adding strength. These are two goals obtained in two very different manners. The simplified approach to growing muscle is to expose our muscles to regular and progressive bouts of stress. That means we have to do resistance training regularly. Initially, simply doing resistance training regularly will produce results, especially if you are starting from a sedentary lifestyle, but you will eventually plateau (stop making gains) if you're not applying the seven basic principles. So here are they are in regards to building muscles.
Overload is the basis for all training programs. For muscles to grow in strength or size, the workload must progressively increase. Everybody is different, but generally speaking, every three to four weeks some form of the workload has to be intensified. Either the weight, sets, reps, time under tension, or rest. Yes, there are multiple ways to make gains beyond adding weight.
Progression, as it suggests, is the measured increase in intensity. So let's say you are doing weighted lunges. You've been doing weighted lunges for about three weeks at three sets of twelve reps per leg with 90 seconds rest between sets. At first, that was difficult, but you find that you're able to complete the workout now without any real struggle. You note that you're now ready to use progression to create a state of overload for your lift. You're ready to make gains! So you keep the weight the same since you've been nursing a knee injury since high school, but increase your set quantity to four and decrease your rest between sets from 90 seconds to 60. You've just accomplished the foundation to muscle building. This process is one that is accomplished by regularly doing self-assessments. If your overload is too much, make an adjustment early in the progression.
The above two principles are key to gaining lean muscle but equally important is adequate recovery. This is obtained by applying two more of the principles, regularity, and recovery. Regularity is the frequency at which you train. Apply this principle to both the number of workout sessions per week as well as the number of times you train each muscle group. This correlates directly to recovery. In short, plan your frequency in sessions to allow for 48-72 hours of recovery per muscle group.
This process is accomplished through regular self-assessment. Pay attention to how you feel each day both before your workouts and after. Take note of your general energy level. Pay attention to your hunger changes. These will indicate whether or not your overload, progression, and recovery are well balanced. Finally, I want to remind you that this is not all-inclusive. There is a lot more I could say on this subject, but this is enough to get you on the right track to reaching your goals. I recommend you follow my blog or keep up with me on my social media accounts for more great content!