The following is an excerpt from the new Men’s Health training guide 90-Day Transformation Challenge: Arms. In one volume, you’ll get all the tools you need—information, a nutrition guide, and workouts—to build your arms in just 3 months.

MAKING SURE YOU’RE following a routine that is realistic and rewarding is the foundation of your success on the path to transforming your body and developing big-time arm muscle.

To build on that foundation, it’s important to take into consideration the eight rules of fitness so you can keep everything moving as smoothly as you want it to!

The 8 Fitness Must-Dos for Building Muscle

1. Form Matters

Focusing on form means putting your muscles in the right position to work hard while not putting your joints in positions that can cause injury. Good form protects your efforts and your body.

2. Never Skip a Recovery Day

If you work hard, your body needs to recover appropriately. In many endeavors, the more you put in, the more you get out. With fitness, that simply isn’t the case. Instead, the right balance of work and recovery leads to lasting results.

3. Effort Dictates Results

Don’t worry about how much weight you lift right now. Your body adapts to effort! Just keep putting in the effort and the heavier weights will come along.

4. Lasting Results Take Time

Creating a new lifestyle and version of yourself will take some time, and that is okay— muscles need time to grow, and so do habits. This isn’t about getting an immediate result but about creating a better version of you, for life.

90-Day Transformation Challenge: Arms

90-Day Transformation Challenge: Arms

90-Day Transformation Challenge: Arms

5. Sleep Is Critical

Changes in your health via fitness are adaptations to the environment you put yourself in. Recovering from the stress of strength and cardiovascular training is essential if you want your body to adapt appropriately—i.e., gain fitness and muscle. If you don’t give your body the recovery time it needs, you may be doing damage to yourself.

6. Stay Hydrated

Up to 60 percent of your body consists of water. And muscles can be as much as 79 percent water! This means it’s important to drink plenty of water to support your muscles during workouts and during recovery.

7. Do What You Can. Don’t Do What You Can’t.

A plan is great but ultimately, you are the only one who knows your limits. You know how far you can push yourself and when you are selling yourself short. Continue to push the needle if you feel comfortable, and if you feel fatigue, pull back.

8. Don’t Do Painful Things

Pain isn’t a feature of positive results. Achy joints, painful movements, and debilitating soreness aren’t signs of a successful program. Will there be some discomfort? Count on it! But it should never escalate to actual pain.

Headshot of David Otey, C.S.C.S.

David Otey, CSCS is a fitness writer, NYC-based strength coach, and Men’s Health Advisory Board member who specializes in strength and hypertrophy protocols as well as athletic performance. For more on Otey check out


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