In a world full of likes and follows, looking and feeling good has never been as important as it is today. Many fitness aficionados across the world – especially men – are looking to capitalise on the power of Instagram by wanting to look as good as they can for their professional and personal lives, and one of the main keys to that success is the building of muscles.
Thankfully, gaining muscle isn’t that difficult, you just need to know how to go about it in the right way. Let’s look at three basic principles that lead to the significant growth of new muscle.
As strange as it may sound, building muscle is all about damaging the muscle fibres that you have to start with. Heavy resistance training and full body workouts of compound exercises are the best way to go about this, so it’s important to incorporate weightlifting into your training schedule.
The simplest approach to building muscle is to break down your training into four or five days, and on each day focusing on a different body part. So for example, one day you can work on building your leg muscles, the next day chest, the next day back, the neck day arms, and the next day shoulders, and so on. Doing 8-12 repetitions per set, and doing 3 sets, using a moderate to heavy weight, is a great way to start off your muscle building training. Performing the sets to failure – when you can’t possibly do one more repetition – is the key to increasing your muscle mass.
This approach to breaking your muscles is known as hypertrophy, but remember that you have to keep things challenging. Your body is excellent at adapting, so staying at the same weight on the same number of sets will only lead to your muscles not being troubled by the workouts. So maybe every four weeks you can increase the amount of sets you do or the weight you are using.
The foods you consume will play a vital role in your success at building muscle. Firstly, you’ll need to make sure that you have a calorie surplus available to generate new muscle. If you consume only the amount of calories you need to maintain your existing lean muscle mass, you may get stronger but there just won’t be enough spare resources to generate new muscle fibre.
Protein is king, and without it, you won’t be able to build muscle successfully. Muscles are largely made of protein, and as with most tissues in your body, muscles are dynamic and constantly being broken down and rebuilt. To gain muscle, your body must synthesise more muscle protein than it breaks down.
For this reason, people who want to build a lot of muscle need to eat a greater amount of protein. A higher protein intake helps build muscle and strength, and a common recommendation for gaining muscle is to consume 2.2kg of protein per kilo of body weight per day. The best sources of natural protein are meats like chicken and turkey, fish, eggs and dairy products, as they all have the essential amino acids your body needs. Making sure there is 20-30g of protein per meal will have you well on your way to consuming the right amount of protein throughout the day.
Supplementation is also an incredibly popular and easy way to make sure you are getting the recommended amount of protein you need. Whilst you shouldn’t skip eating natural sources of protein, things like whey protein can help you quickly get some added protein into your body. Using whey protein in a shake after your training can prove advantageous for your muscles in the time between leaving the gym and having your high protein dinner at home.
Rest is probably the most underrated factor when it comes to muscle growth. It is perhaps not the most obvious thing to think about, but it’s incredibly important. Muscles need time to recover in order to grow, so it’s recommended that when training, you rest about 60 seconds between each set. This gives your muscles time to recover, not warm down, before going again. The worst thing you can do is overtrain and abuse your muscles.
Take care not to overwork tired muscles. Training the same body parts too frequently can significantly impair your recovery. They say the golden rule is to never train an aching muscle, so that’s why we suggest training a different body part each day.
It turns out that our real muscle growth takes place while we’re resting at home. Sleep is crucial for strength training and helps with muscle repair after a strenuous workout. Along with consuming protein to aid in muscle repair and new growth, your body produces its own muscle-building hormones while you sleep, increasing blood flow to your muscles and repairing the tissue damaged from working out. A consistent sleep schedule of 7-8 hours a night will greatly help the muscle-healing process.
There are 3 basic factors when it comes to building muscle. The first is training, making sure that you are working the muscles hard without abusing them. The second is nutrition, making sure that you’re getting the right amount of protein that your body needs. And lastly, making sure you get enough rest and sleep so that your muscles have enough time to rebuild and replenish. If you work these three together, you’ll be well on your way to building your muscles to the size you want!