How to Build Muscle and Strength: The Basic Principles for Beginners

A beginners guide to packing on muscle and getting strong!

Exercises, Principles, Differences

If you’re looking to build muscle, get bigger and become stronger, these are the things you need to do:

  • Lift heavy things
  • Eat a diet based on your goals
  • Rest

 Body Types

build muscle body types
body types


An ectomorph is a typical skinny guy. Ecto’s have a light build with small joints and lean muscle. Usually ectomorph’s have long thin limbs with stringy muscles. Shoulders tend to be thin with little width.


  • Small “delicate” frame and bone structure
  • Classic “hardgainer”
  • Flat chest
  • Small shoulders
  • Thin
  • Lean muscle mass
  • Finds it hard to gain weight
  • Fast metabolism

Ectomorphs find it very hard to gain weight. They have a fast metabolism which burns up calories very quickly. Ecto’s need a huge amount of calories in order to gain weight. Workouts should be short and intense focusing on big muscle groups. Supplements are definitely recommended. Ectomorphs should eat before bed to prevent muscle catabolism during the night. Generally, ectomorphs can lose fat very easily which makes cutting back to lean muscle easier for them.


A mesomorph has a large bone structure, large muscles and a naturally athletic physique. Mesomorphs are the best body type for bodybuilding. They find it quite easy to gain and lose weight. They are naturally strong which is the perfect platform for building muscle.


  • Athletic
  • Generally hard body
  • Well defined muscles
  • Rectangular shaped body
  • Strong
  • Gains muscle easily
  • Gains fat more easily than ectomorphs

The mesomorph body type responds the best to weight-training. Gains are usually seen very quickly, especially for beginners. The downside to mesomorphs is they gain fat more easily than ectomorphs. This means they must watch their calorie intake. Usually a combination of weight training and cardio works best for mesomorphs.


The endomorph body type is solid and generally soft. Endomorphs gain fat very easily. Endo’s are usually of a shorter build with thick arms and legs. Muscles are strong, especially the upper legs. Endomorphs find they are naturally strong in leg exercises like the squat.


  • Soft and round body
  • Gains muscle and fat very easily
  • Is generally short
  • “Stocky” build
  • Round physique
  • Finds it hard to lose fat
  • Slow metabolism
  • Muscles not so well defined

When it comes to training endomorphs find it very easy to gain weight. Unfortunately, a large portion of this weight is fat not muscle. To keep fat gain to a minimum, endomorphs must always train cardio as well as weights.

Keep it simple

  • Leg Exercises – Squats, Deadlifts, or Lunges
  • Push Exercises – Bench Press, Overhead Press, or Dips
  • Pull Exercises – Inverted Rows, Pull Ups, or Chin Ups
  • Core Exercises – Reverse Crunches, Hanging Knee Raises, Toes to Bar, Hollow Rocks or Planks

Master the basics!


build muscle reps
rep schemes

Build Muscle: The most commonly used rep ranges with their primary training effect:

  • 1-5 Reps Per Set = Mostly Strength
  • 5-8 Reps Per Set = Strength AND Muscle Equally
  • 8-10 Reps Per Set = Muscle With Some Strength
  • 10-12 Reps Per Set = Muscle With Some Endurance
  • 12-15 Reps Per Set = Endurance With Some Muscle
  • 15-20 Reps Per Set = Mostly Endurance

That means:

  • Lower reps (high intensity) is most ideal for increasing strength.
  • Higher reps (low intensity) is most ideal for improving muscle endurance.
  • Moderate reps in the middle of the two (moderate intensity) is most ideal for building muscle and really anything related to improving the way your body looks (rather than performs).

For more depth on this topic, check out this article:

5 Strength Training and Barbell Programs – How to Get Seriously Strong and Pack on Muscle

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About The Author

Editor-In-Chief at BOXROX. I come from a background of rugby and weightlifting. Growing up in the English Lake District, I spent a great deal of time swimming in its stunning lakes and rivers. In 2015 my brothers and I became the first people to swim the 145km length of the River Eden, from source to mouth, in 9 days. We also swam the Corryvreckan whirlpool, the third largest in the world, and Crossfit is a huge part of my training for these events.


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