The building blocks for gaining muscle tone

Gaining muscle size and improving muscle tone is important for creating a strong, aesthetically pleasing physique. Unfortunately, building muscle can be a slow process that can take a great deal of time. But, through careful planning, careful supplementation and consistent hard work in the gym, it’s possible to speed up the process making it possible to put on large amounts of muscle in a relatively short amount of time. This fitness article will break down the process of building muscle into two easy to follow steps.

Step 1 – Diet 

The body uses food as fuel to drive the muscles. It also uses the protein found in food to create new muscle tissue and strengthen any existing muscle. It is important to eat a diet that is high in both calories and protein to build muscle.

Calculating the amount of calories needed to build muscle is relatively simple.

The first step is to calculate your body’s ‘base metabolic rate’, or ‘BMR’ for short. The BMR represents the amount of calories burned by your metabolism if you were to lie in bed all day without moving.

Use the following formula to calculate your BMR –

BMR = 66 + ( 13.7 x weight in kilos ) + ( 5 x height in cm ) – ( 6.8 x age in years )

Using these figures, a person that is 180cm tall, weighs 100kg and is aged 20 will have a BMR of 2,200, meaning their metabolism would burn 2,200 calories if they were to spend an entire day lying stationary in bed.

Once the BMR has been calculated, the next step is to calculate your ‘total daily energy expenditure’, or ‘TDEE’ for short. The TDEE provides an estimate of how many calories are being burned by the body on an average day. This figure will vary from person to person depending on individual activity levels.

Calculating the TDEE is easy. Simply take the BMR and multiply it by one of the following activity levels –

1.2x = sedentary (desk job)
1.5x = moderately active (exercise 3-5 times a week)
1.8x = very active (physically demanding lifestyle & exercise 6-7 times a week)

Using our previous BMR example, if that person worked a day job and went to the gym 5 times a week, we can calculate their TDEE by taking their BMR of 2,200 and multiplying it by 1.5x giving a result of 3,300 calories burned by their metabolism on an average day.

Once this figure has been calculated, the next step is to add +500 calories to it. The body needs a surplus of calories to build muscle – 500 additional calories each day will give the body enough fuel to build 0.5kg of muscle each week.

It’s important to note that the body is incapable of building any more than 0.5kg of muscle each week. This means that, if we were to eat a surplus of more than 500 calories each day, the body would store these excess calories as fat rather than muscle.

The next step is to calculate the amount of protein needed by the body to build muscle. Research carried out by scientists has found that the optimal amount of protein needed to build muscle is 1.8g of protein per kilogram of bodyweight. This means that a person who weighs 100kg would need to eat 180g of protein each day to build muscle.

Reaching this figure is not easy. Protein heavy foods like eggs, meat, fish and cheese will need to make up a large portion of any muscle building diet. Protein shakes can also be used to help bolster the amount of protein being ingested each day.

Step 2 – Exercise

The muscles are put under a great deal of stress while lifting heavy weights. This causes the brain to signal the body to start producing more muscle so that it is able to better cope with the stress of heavy lifting in the future. This means that it is required to lift heavy weights to signal the body to build muscle.

Choosing which weightlifting routine will give the best results will depend on the individual. Beginners would benefit greatly from a simple three day routine that works each muscle in the body.

An example routine might be..

Overhead Press – 3 sets of 5 reps
Chin Ups – 2 sets of 8 reps
Squat – 3 sets of 5 reps

Bench Press – 3 sets of 5 reps
Pendlay Row – 3 sets of 5 reps
Tricep Pushdowns – 2 sets of 8 reps
Calf Raises – 2 sets of 8 reps

Deadlift – 2 sets of 5 steps
Dips – 2 sets of 8 reps
Heavy cable crunches – 2 sets of 8 reps

Intermediate and expert weightlifters would need to use more complicated routines featuring complex muscle splits. These can be found on the internet, in bodybuilding books and in bodybuilding magazines.


Building muscle is a relatively simple process. It requires consistent hard work in the gym and a well designed diet. By following the steps detailed in this article, you will be able to build muscle at a steady pace giving a strong, toned, aesthetically pleasing physique.