A Guide to Building Muscle

Want to build muscle but don’t know where to start? Look no further, our fitness gurus at the new Simply Gym in Cwmbran have put together a handy guide to get you going…

If you are new to strength-training you should always start with free-weights. Machines that target specific muscles should only be used when you have improved your general strength and fitness.

The free weights area at a gym can sometimes be intimidating; an area for ripped, advanced gym members. This is not the case! Any gym worth its salt should have a range of free weight equipment with room for everyone — no matter what stage you’re at.

If you are aiming to improve your strength and size, full-body routines with compound exercises are the most efficient exercises. Compound exercises work multiple groups at once to create solid growth and stimulation. Examples include squats and pull-ups.

How do you develop a routine?

If you have never done it before, developing an exercise routine for yourself can seem daunting. However, once you know the basics this isn’t the case.

The key is finding a routine that features leg, core, push and pull exercises. Variety is also important so that your exercises don’t become boring or overly repetitive.

Leg exercises are important as stronger knee, hip and ankle joints will reduce your chance of injury. Stronger legs will also increase your ability to complete upper body exercises. Examples include lunges and squats.

Your core includes almost every muscle in your body apart from your arms and legs. A strong core is important as it is involved nearly every time you move your body. Including core exercises such as sit-ups or crunches in your routine could lead to improved posture, reduced back pain and a slimmer waist.

Push exercises stimulate those muscles in your body used for pushing actions. Push exercises like the bench press lead to increased muscular mass and endurance.

The opposite of push exercises, pull exercises such as chin-ups and pull-ups are also vital to a full-body routine as they strengthen numerous muscles all over the body.

The perfect exercise routine is impossible to define as it depends on host of factors that differ from person to person. If you are thinking of joining a gym, or are already a member, there should be specialists on site happy to help you develop a personalised routine.

How much exercise should you do?

First of all we thought it would be best to define reps and sets. Reps stands for repetitions and is the term given to a single exercise movement, such as a lift, which is repeated a certain number of times. Blocks of reps are referred to as sets.

For an absolute beginner, we would recommend 3 or 5 sets of 5 reps, per exercise. So if you were doing sit-ups, 5 sets of 5 reps would equal 25 sit-ups in total.

Normally sets of 5 reps will build compact strength, while longer sets of 6-12 reps will build more bulk.

Final tips and pointers

Make sure you warm up before exercising. This is vitally important to any workout, as it’s important to up your heart rate and warm up your muscles before attempting heavy lifting.

Make sure you’re doing it right. The position of your body is essential to exercising correctly so that you don’t cause damage to your muscles.

Don’t overdo it. You don’t need to spend hours in the gym to achieve your goals. Ideally, routines should last between 30-45 minutes, with a day to rest in between. Resting is key, it gives your muscles time to heal and re-grow bigger and stronger.

Write down what you’re doing. Keep track of what you’re doing and how often in a training journal. This is great for comparing how you’re doing each week, and assessing when it’s time to increase the heaviness of the weights used.

Simply Gym go out of their way to make new members feel comfortable. We organise a welcome which includes a complimentary personal training session, to help you get to grips with the equipment and develop a tailored routine.

If you have any questions please don’t hesitate to email us at

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