Exercises with a full range of motion are more effective for building muscle.
If someone told you that isometrics were the ideal exercises for building muscle, you were sadly misinformed. Isometrics -- which are exercises that involve static contraction of a muscle -- can help you maintain muscle strength, but they don't do much to actually build muscle. If you're looking to build muscle strength, try any number of other, more-effective ways to tone up.1.
Start a strength-training program that has your muscles moving through a full range of motion -- something that isometric exercises don't do. Join a gym and use the weight-training machines -- such as the butterfly for your chest, biceps and triceps curls for your arms; the lat pulldown for your back; and the hamstring curl and sled press for your legs. You can also hire a trainer to teach you how to use the free weights, doing exercises such as the bench press for the chest and arms and squats for the legs. Bodyweight-lifting exercises such as pull-ups, push-ups, squats and lunges also work well for building muscle.2.
Work strength-training exercises in to your schedule at least two days a week using all the major muscle groups, in keeping with the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services' (HHS) Physical Activity Guidelines for Americans. If you don't have time to do all of the exercises at once, break the workouts up into body parts; do arms and chest one day, then legs the next. Whatever way you plan it out, give individual muscles at least 24 hours rest in between strength-training sessions.3.
Incorporate muscle-building cardio into your routine. Another guideline set forth by HHS is to do at least 150 minutes of aerobic exercise each week, which breaks down to about 30 minutes a day, five days a week. Use that time focusing on exercises such as swimming, jumping rope or sprint running -- all exercises that will help you build more muscle.4.
Eat an adequate amount of protein, giving your body the stuff it needs to build muscle. The average person requires about .8 to 1.0 grams of protein per kilogram of body weight, reminds the American Council on Exercise -- with a kilogram equaling about 2.2 pounds. To build muscle, aim on the higher end of that spectrum. Also, eating some protein right after your workouts will help repair and build muscle.