When it comes to improving physical and overall health, there are few things that you can do that will have a greater effect than putting on more lean muscle mass. The scientific delineation for muscle building is hypertrophy, and it is widely accepted that to really engage this requires strength training with progressively heavier loads, and the consumption of adequate amounts of protein.
Genetics also plays a crucial role in this – but keep in mind that no matter the state of your genetic profile, following the best ways to build muscle listed in this article will doubtless lead to dramatic improvements. In this article, we have distilled the 10 most important things you need to do to put the muscle on and keep it on.
Increase Your Protein Consumption
If you want to build more muscle, then upping your protein consumption is absolutely mandatory. After all, the amino acids responsible for building back your trained muscles bigger and stronger can only come from protein. The real question is just how much protein do you need?
According to the Food and Drug Administration, the recommended daily amount of protein varies on average for men and women. It behooves you to start here, figure out how much you need to maintain the muscle you already have – and then increase your protein intake accordingly as dependent on how big and muscular you want to get. On average then, it is recommended that you eat 0.8 g per kilogram of body weight. Therefore, if you weigh exterior kilograms then you need to take at least 54 g of protein daily.
There is a need for considerably more protein than that if you do strength training. At the very least, you need to double your intake if you engage in resistance training. There’s no way to pin down an exact number, however, but a good guideline is 1.6 g of protein per body weight kilogram in order to put on muscle. Let’s use a practical example to facilitate your muscle-building program: if you weigh 150 pounds, you need to imbibe 110 g of protein daily. If you really get into weightlifting, you can up this to 2 g of protein per kilogram of body weight per day. Let’s say you weigh 200 pounds; then, you need to be getting over 190 g of protein per day in order to build more muscle.
Keep in mind that as you get older, your body will naturally lose muscle since your testosterone levels decrease. As a result, you will need to be adding more protein to your diet anyway – even if you don’t lift weights. Indeed, a 2016 Nutrients Magazine article shows that older muscles don’t react to protein as strongly as your muscles; the only way to effectively combat this is to imbibe more protein.
Take Protein Consistently and Evenly
If you want to maximize your muscle gains, the following is very important: it’s one thing to dramatically increase your protein intake for enhanced cellular muscle synthesis, but to really optimize the situation you want to spread your intake throughout the day so that your body always has enough protein to avoid catabolism (which is the situation in which your body feeds on its own muscles).
Dr. Pam Bruzina of the University of Missouri stresses the importance of interval-eating when it comes to protein. “Frankly, if you can get 20 g of protein in each meal, and you eat about four meals per day, then your muscle-gaining results will be superior to someone who has a similar genetic profile but eats most of their protein in a single meal.”
There have been several studies proving these theoretical claims. To a particular, the February 2018 edition of the Journal of the International Society of Sports Nutrition in the March 2013 edition of The Journal of Physiology compared many different combinations in terms of frequency of protein consumption. The best ones were dividing your protein intake into four meals or snacks per day. Therefore, although you can build muscle if you imbibe 40 g of whey protein twice daily or 15 g of protein seven times per day – the best results by far were obtained by people who ate 20 g of protein spread out over four or more meals per day.
Frequency of Training
When it comes to building muscle, you want to train frequently. Although this can mean different things for different people and programs, the general consensus is that each muscle group needs 2-3 workouts per week to maximize hypertrophy. Studies conducted by Dr. Michaela Devries-Aboud of the University of Waterloo, Canada, back this up.
Because of time constraints, it can sometimes be difficult to train each muscle group the necessary number of times weekly to optimize hypertrophy. One method that facilitates your workouts is a full body strength training routine. Although this can be very good for newcomers, as you become more advanced you may find that you need to focus on your upper body one day, and your lower body the next before you take a rest day. Vegans to the weightlifting game can usually be found doing muscle-group splits – basically, you split up your workout into back and biceps, chest and triceps, legs and hips etc.
Increase The Difficulty of Resistance-Training
One of the fundamental reasons why resistance-training increases muscle size and strength is because your brain and body “recognizes” the need to become stronger in order to deal with the weight. As such, you should feel compelled to make your workout harder as time passes. How you know when to increase it, exactly?
First you need to be able to do the workouts with perfect form. Once you can complete 8-12 reps with perfect form and to fatigue, you should start looking to move up in weight when you can perform about 2 more reps before failure. Instead of going to 14 reps in your next workout, increase the weight by 2.5-5 pounds for your upper body, and 5-10 pounds for your lower body. If acquiring the necessary weights is a problem, then use the same weight but slow down your workouts and pause halfway to make your muscles work harder.
Using Protein Shakes and Supplements to Facilitate Muscle Growth
When you begin your journey to build more muscle, it becomes almost immediately apparent how difficult it can be to get in the daily serving of protein needed. This is where protein powders and supplements can be a veritable godsend – the shakes, in particular, can significantly facilitate reaching your protein goals.
Generally speaking, the best one for this is whey protein. It digests very quickly, and has all of the amino acid you need – especially the amino acid leucine, which directly activates muscle protein synthesis on a cellular level. Even if you’re vegan or vegetarian, you can still reap the benefits by swapping out whey protein in exchange for rice protein, pea protein or even Cricket protein. The one thing to be wary of as a vegan is that almost all types of vegan protein are lacking in some of the amino acids needed for muscle growth; however, you can make up the balance by using more than one type of vegan protein.
Use Protein Immediately Post-Workout
Although you can get this protein from food, you’ll find that protein shakes are tailor-made for immediate post-workout consumption. This is not only because of the ease with which you can take them, it’s also because of how quickly whey protein is absorbed by the body and put to use in muscle protein synthesis.
Nutrition and kinesiology experts are loud and clear on the matter: immediately after a resistance-training session, your body exists in a state where it can liberally absorb protein better than any other time during the day or night. This state is called the “metabolic window“; you will simply build muscle better and faster during this window – as long as the high-quality protein necessary to do so is available. This window lasts a maximum of about two hours; therefore if you can get about 20 g of protein in within one-hour post-workout, you will be doing your body a great service on the path to building muscle.
Carbohydrates Are Very Important, Too
Just because this is a protein block party, doesn’t mean that you shouldn’t be getting in a solid amount of carbohydrates in your muscle-building journey. Dr. Liz Applegate is the director of nutrition and sports at UC Davis. She stresses the importance of protein unequivocally. “If your body lacks the necessary amount of carbohydrates, then it will simply start to break down some of your fat and hard-earned muscle for the protein; it will use these as fuel – which is counterproductive.”
There’s another reason why you should make sure you’re getting enough carbs. Simply put, carbohydrates are the fuel; they will help power you through your workouts, which will inevitably lead to more rapid muscle growth and strengthening.
Imbibe Protein For the Long Night
It’s a known fact that your body – especially you weightlifters and bodybuilders – will feast on your muscles during the 7 to 8 hours of recommended nightly rest. This is why experts recommend that you include your pre-bedtime protein shaker snack in your calculations for the day.
Helpfully, he gets a lot more explicit in a paper published in the Journal of Science and Medicine in Sport (the August 2020 edition). In several research trial studies, it was shown that healthy young adult males who imbibe 20-40 g of slow-release casein protein about half an hour before bedtime can significantly increase muscle mass over time.
Just like whey protein, you can get casein protein in a variety of dairy products. The primary difference between them is that casein takes a lot longer – several hours – to release all of its amino acids into your bloodstream. Although not particularly good for an immediate post workout shake, this does make casein protein an excellent option prior to bedtime.
Adequate Rest and Recuperation
The science of muscle gaining would be incomplete if we did not stress sleep. It’s simple: your body is only being broken down during your workouts; it actually repairs itself when you’re resting and sleeping. That’s why experts recommend you get at least seven hours of sleep every single day – in addition to eating a balanced diet with healthy servings of protein.
It’s also not a good idea to train your muscles too much, since this means they won’t have a chance to repair themselves and grow bigger. Not only is this physical, but mental fatigue can set in if you’re constantly pushing yourself and working out too many days in a row without resting. For more specific information, make sure you put 48 hours between training the same muscle group. This can vary a bit, since some workouts may be more intense than others – but a full two days is a good rule of thumb. You can also workout another muscle group the next day, so it doesn’t necessarily mean you need to cease all workouts for two full days.
The Centers or Disease Control and Prevention recommends 7-9 hours of sleep nightly. During this rest, your body will be in prime position to properly regulate your hormones. This can help a great deal in stifling the production of the stress hormone cortisol, while also helping to elevate growth hormone and testosterone – the latter are essential for muscle growth. Cortisol, on the other hand, can inhibit your body from activating muscle growth since it needs resources to combat the stress which is why insomnia can kill your gains.
With the great habits up above, we wish you the best of luck on your muscle-building journey. Before you know it, it will become a profitable lifestyle.