You need to firstly understand how muscle gain works before you start training. Whether you have a specific goal to get into bodybuilding or figure contest, or just wish to fill out those t-shirts better – you need a starting point. It can be frustrating when you feel you are putting in the work to add those 5 – 10lbs of muscle mass but those results elude you.
Building muscle is not difficult if you follow a few basic rules. Firstly, lets get a better understanding of the body’s physiology to muscle growth. After you workout your body replaces and repairs damaged muscle fibres through a process that fuses fibres together making new muscle protein strands. These strands increase in thickness and number thus creating more muscle for muscle hypertrophy. You may be surprised to know that muscle repair and growth does not actually take place whilst you are lifting, but during rest. By following these four tips, you’ll be able to build muscle mass more efficiently and quickly.
So now that we have a better understanding of how muscle growth takes place in the body, you can see how weight and resistance training play a huge role in building muscle mass. You’ve probably heard the big guys in the gym using the term Hypertrophy when describing their training methods. This by definition, is the enlargement of an organ or tissue from the increase in size of its cells. The equipment used for hypertrophy and strength training remains the same, however methods differ in volume, intensity and rest between sets.
Good food choices are essential to muscle growth.
Eat more protein! As we mentioned before exercise breaks down your muscles and protein builds them back up. The harder you train the more important the muscle building foods you consume will become. It is recommended that you consume 0.3 grams of protein per kilogram of body weight per meal. This should keep your Protein Synthesis (the process in which cells make proteins) positive enabling you to grow bigger muscles. Its easy to find good quality, high protein sources on the market such as fresh meat, eggs, Greek yoghurt, nuts and protein powders.
When talking about Protein synthesis we need to consider Calorie Surplus. Quite simply you need to consume more calories than you burn each day. If your body thinks you are going into calorie deficit and burning more calories than you are taking in, then it will not prioritise these energy stores for building new muscle. To help with this you need to know the minimum number of calories you require whilst inactive. This is called your Basal Metabolic Rate (BMR) and is worked out by using the below formula:
• BMR for Men = 66.5 + (13.8 x weight in kg) + (5 x height in cm) − (6.8 x age in years)
• BMR for Women = 655.1 + (9.6 x weight in kg) + (1.9 x height in cm) − (4.7 x age in years)
Once you have figured out your BMR you need to add the number of calories you think you burn during an average workout. Then add 200 – 400 calories for additional muscle growth to give you your suggested daily intake of calories.
Although not essential, supplements are a great addition to your muscle building arsenal and are most effective when taken before and after workouts. Let’s have a look at some of the pros and cons of some of the bigshots found on the market:
Pros: Whey protein is a high-quality, quickly digested protein that contains all the essential amino acids. It increases muscle protein synthesis post-workout and boosts the immune system.
Cons: Some people are intolerant to whey protein, after all dairy is one of the most common food allergens. It is possible to consume too much whey protein and put on weight and cause massive spikes in insulin. Whey Protein is highly processed meaning it often contains undesirable ingredients such as soybean oil, vegetable oils and artificial sweeteners.
Pros: Increases stores of phosphocreatine (stored energy) in the muscles. Creatine boosts your resistance to fatigue, enabling you to increase your workload volume during a single exercise session. Creatine helps increase the hormone IGF-1, a key player in muscle growth.
Cons: At the beginning of use, creative can causes water retention and subsequent weight gain. If too much creatine is consumed it can cause stomach issues and diarrhoea. Creatine can worsen kidney disease, so it is recommended you consult a doctor if you have any known impaired kidney function. Creatine has been linked to irregular heartbeats and light-headedness – if you experience any of these affects you should immediately stop taking your supplement and seek medical advice.
Pros: Aids in getting a much deeper sleep. Contains magnesium, zinc and Vitamin B6.
Cons: Can cause intense and vivid dreams (possibly a pro for some).
The most underrated component to muscle building – Get more sleep! As mentioned earlier, muscle growth needs sufficient muscle recovery, which takes place during rest. Roughly eight hours a night should do it. Don’t fall into the bracket of gymgoers with overtraining syndrome. Listen to your body’s need for rest and refrain from overworking already tired and achy muscles.