Muscle strengthening is frequently a top focus when it comes to physique enhancements. Adding muscle mass will improve your muscle definition, boost your lean body mass, and add bulk and size to your frame in all the correct areas.
Muscle development requires patience, perseverance, and long-term dedication to the process.
While acquiring big quantities of muscle may appear difficult, most people can achieve serious muscle building with suitable workout routines and adequate consumption of particular meals. This page covers all you need to know about muscle building, including how to work out, what to eat, and rehabilitation methods.
The Ten Muscle-Building Principles
1. Increase Muscle Building
The more protein your body stores (via a process known as protein synthesis), the greater your muscles become. However, your body is continually using its protein supplies for various purposes, such as hormone production.
As a result, there is less protein available for muscular growth. To compensate, you must “build and store new proteins faster than your body breaks down old proteins,” according to Michael Houston, Ph.D., a nutrition professor at Virginia Tech University.
According to landmark research published in the Journal of Applied Physiology, aim for 1 gram of protein per pound of body weight, which is roughly the maximum amount your body can consume in a day.
A 160-pound male, for example, should have around 160 grams of protein per day, which is equivalent to an 8-ounce chicken breast, 1 cup of cottage cheese, a roast-beef sandwich, two eggs, a glass of milk, and 2 ounces of peanuts. Divide the remaining calories in your daily diet evenly between carbohydrates and fats.
2. Eat More
You require additional calories in addition to appropriate protein. To gain one pound per week, double your daily calorie intake by the following formula. (Give yourself two weeks for the results to appear on the bathroom scale. If you haven’t gained weight by then, increase your calorie intake by 500 each day.)
A. Your poundage is: _____
B. Divide A by 12 to get your basic calorie requirements: _____
C. Divide B by 1.6 to calculate your resting metabolic rate (calorie burn without exercise): _____
D. Strength training: Take the number of minutes you lift weights per week and multiply it by 5: _____
E. Aerobic training: Multiply the number of minutes you run, cycle, or participate in sports each week by 8: _____
F. Add D and E together and divide by 7: _____
G. Combine C and F to calculate your daily calorie requirements: _____
H. Subtract 500 from G: _____. This is your daily calorie need to gain one pound per week.
3. Strive for Greatness, Not Minimalism
Yes, biceps curls are enjoyable, but if you want to gain muscle, you must challenge your body in other ways. Working through so-called “multi-joint” movements, according to Samuel, is one method to accomplish this. “Yes, isolation training has value,” Samuel argues, “but it can’t be the backbone of your training.”
Exercises that challenge numerous joints and muscles at the same time are preferable. Take the dumbbell row, for example. Each row rep works the biceps, lats, and abs. Using various muscular areas allows you to lift the greater weight, according to Samuel, a vital growth stimulant (more on that later). And it forces you to use your muscles collectively, just like in real life. “Multi-joint moves are key in your workouts,” he explains.
To take advantage of this, include squats, deadlifts, pullups, and bench presses in your routine. All of these will activate numerous muscle groups at the same time, which is what you want to do if you want to grow.
4. Heavy Train
Heavy training is required to create muscle and strength, according to Curtis Shannon, C.S.C.S. “There are numerous advantages to training heavy, safely, and efficiently,” Shannon explains. “Heavy training puts the muscles to the test not only concentrically, but also eccentrically.” If not done correctly, the stimulus of heavyweight going down with control and back up will induce more muscle breakdown and rebuilding.”
That means you shouldn’t be doing 10-15 reps on every set. Yes, high-rep sets can be beneficial, but for multi-joint movements such as squats, bench presses, and deadlifts, don’t be scared to complete sets of 5 reps. According to Samuel, this will allow you to use more weight and generate greater pure strength. As you gain strength, you will be able to lift larger weights for more reps.
One method to address this in training is to begin each workout with a low-rep activity. Perform 4 sets of 3-5 reps on your first exercise, then 3 sets of 10-12 reps on each subsequent action. “It’s the best of both worlds,” Samuel explains, “letting you build pure strength early, then pile up reps later.”
5. First, have a drink
Lifters who drank an amino acid and carbohydrate smoothie before working out improved their protein synthesis more than lifters who drank the same mix after exercising, according to a 2001 study at the University of Texas.
The smoothie had 6 grams of necessary amino acids (protein’s building blocks) and 35 grams of carbohydrates.
“Because exercise increases blood flow to your working tissues, drinking a carbohydrate-protein mixture before your workout may result in greater uptake of amino acids in your muscles,” explains Kevin Tipton, Ph.D., an exercise and nutrition researcher at the University of Texas at Galveston.
You’ll need 10 to 20 grams of protein for your smoothie, which is typically one scoop of whey protein powder. Can’t stand protein shakes? A sandwich cooked with 4 ounces of deli turkey and a slice of American cheese on whole wheat bread contains the same nutrients. But a drink is preferable.
“Liquid meals are absorbed faster,” Kalman explains. So persevere. One should be consumed 30 to 60 minutes before your workout.
6. Don’t Always Push It
Your body should move every day, but this does not mean that your workouts should weary you. “If you train at your hardest every day, your body doesn’t get a chance to grow,” Samuel explains. “Select your attack targets.” Aim to finish each workout feeling pleasant rather than dead. Never go above 12-16 total sets of work in your weight room training.
This isn’t to say you can’t undertake a tough workout every now and then. However, limit workouts that push your body to its limits to three times a week and never on consecutive days. “You need recovery to grow,” Samuel explains. “Constantly training to the point of exhaustion will be counterproductive to the recovery you need for muscle growth.”
7. Consume Carbohydrates Following Your Workout
According to research, if you feed your body carbohydrates on your rest days, you will repair muscle faster.
“Post-workout carbohydrate meals raise insulin levels,” which delays protein breakdown, according to Kalman. Get yourself a banana, a sports drink, and a peanut-butter sandwich.
8. Put Yourself to the Test with Progressive Overload
As previously said, one important aspect of muscle training is challenging your muscles to endure progressively bigger tasks. Most gym-goers believe that implies you have to lift heavier in every workout. That is simply not the case, according to Samuel. “There comes a point where just putting more weight on the bar becomes difficult,” he explains. “If that wasn’t the case, everyone would be benching 300 pounds.”
According to Samuel, don’t just try to add weight to every set of exercises. However, strive to improve in some way on each set of activities. “Even if you’re not going up in weight, you can push yourself in different ways,” he says. “You could do 10 deadlift reps this set.” Instead of adding weight, execute the same 10 reps with an even better form on the next set.”
According to Samuel, maintaining the same weight for all four sets on a day can provide enough difficulty, especially when you’re improving your execution with each set. Other types of progressive overload exist as well. You can reduce the rest time between sets, for example, from 120 seconds to 90 seconds, increase the reps, or complete additional sets.
“Aim to improve in every workout,” Samuel advises, “but understand that improvement will not always look the same.” I might deadlift 315 pounds four times today and not be able to add weight. But if I can squeeze out a fifth rep or simply execute my four reps with more control than last week, I’ll be on the right track.”
9. Increase Your Time Under Tension
One often-overlooked approach to gradually overload your muscles is to place them under increased “time under tension.” When your muscles are functioning, whether they are under a bench press bar or curling a dumbbell upwards, they are under “tension” from the weight. You can tell if your biceps are relaxed if you stand with dumbbells at your sides. You’ll notice them flexing against the “tension” of the dumbbells as you curl them upwards.
Experienced lifters frequently exploit this stress. They lift with a set tempo rather than just lifting and lowering a weight (say, on a biceps curl). They might curl up as quickly as they can, then reduce the weight for 3 focused seconds with good form on each rep.
This keeps your muscles tense for longer than a standard set, in which you raise and lower the weight without regard for timing. And the extra time spent under tension throughout a session can aid in muscular growth.
It’s worth noting that you can do this with nearly any strength workout. It is ineffective for explosive activities such as kettlebell swings, snatches, and cleans. Squats, deadlifts, curls, pullups, and pushups (among many other exercises) can be modified to add more time under strain, pushing your muscles farther on each rep.
10. Get at Least 6 Hours of Sleep
Sleep is frequently overlooked as a factor in the trip to muscle. You spend a lot of time training, but what you don’t realize is that your muscles recuperate and your body grows while you sleep. Muscle-building hormones are also released during this time.
You’re probably aware that you should aim for 8 to 10 hours of sleep per night. That doesn’t always happen, of course, but you want to do everything you can to improve the quality of the hours you do get if you can’t get 8 hours.
If you’re serious about building muscle, you should consider your sleeping environment. Try to go to bed and get out of bed at the same hour every day. And sleep in a completely dark, completely silent, completely chilly room. All of these small changes improve sleep quality, which might have an underappreciated impact on your capacity to gain muscle.