To get bigger, stronger or leaner, you must first master the basics. Adhere to these five rules from the best in the business to build a better body.

1. Do More Mobility Work

If you neglect mobility you’re limiting your progress. “Good mobility means quality movement patterns, which means getting more out of every lift,” says coach Phil Graham.

“You can add more weight and achieve a better range of motion, which is essential for maximising your muscle gain and fat loss efforts. It also reduces your risk of injury.”

2. Choose Weights Wisely

“Effective weight training is not about heaving as much weight as possible – the weights are just a tool, and your job is to flex your muscles against those weights,” says Ultimate Performance founder Nick Mitchell. “Remember that you’re not lifting for your ego, or to impress anyone. You must lift for the most effective way to build new muscle.”

The final couple of reps of the first few sets should feel hard, and the final reps of the final sets should be very challenging. If you finish all the reps and feel like you could have done another five, the weight is too light. If you can only perform half the target number of reps before your muscles fail then the weight is too heavy. Adjust accordingly. 

3. Go Light with Isolation Lifts

To grow a muscle to its maximum potential, you must hit it with isolation moves – but that doesn’t mean lifting super-heavy. “Take the arms: your triceps and biceps take a pretty solid pounding every time you train your chest and back, so direct arms training requires a smarter approach,” says leading physique coach John Meadows.

“Lifting lighter and prioritising getting a good pump – through perfect range of motion and controlled time under tension – will work the muscle fibres far more effectively. And the better you can isolate a muscle, the bigger it will get.”

4. Stretch for Strength

Improving your flexibility through stretching is something most men neglect, but doing so not only reduces your risk of muscle injury, it can also increase muscle mass growth.

“Stretching can cause massive growth, if done at the right time,” says sports scientist Dr Jacob Wilson. “We’ve tested intra-set stretching, which means stretching the working muscle or muscles during your rest periods between sets, and it can be very effective for bringing up a lagging muscle group, although you may have to reduce the weight you lift.”

5. Master the Movements

“Most people fail to add muscle if there’s not enough direct stimulus on the target muscles, because there is too much momentum at the expense of tension,” says M10 Fitness owner Mark Coles.

“Learning how a move is performed effectively, even though you will have to reduce the weight you lift, can take your progress to the next level.”

Words: Joe Warner