You heard it countless times. The best way to add muscle mass to your frame is to lift weights as much as you can. You also heard that strong is the new skinny, which explains why you are paying extra attention to dumbbells than the treadmill. Apparently, bulking on muscles is easier said than done.
Here’s the truth: building muscle mass is more than just lifting weights. It takes a lot of routines and number of reps to encourage your muscles to grow bigger, sans the steroids. What you eat and drink the whole day could also play a crucial role in muscle building, too.
To guide you better, regardless if you are a woman who is trying to maintain a fit physique or a man who wants to bulk up, here are important things you should do to build muscles the right way.
1. Limit Cardio. Cardio exercises such as running and swimming are good for the heart. In fact, it helps you lose extra pounds and keeps your weight at bay. When it comes to building muscle mass, you don’t need extra time in the treadmill.
Aside from protein, your body needs adequate amount of fat to encourage muscle growth. Without this, you might be lifting weights and not see any improvement in your frame.
Still, this doesn’t mean you should eliminate cardio in your workout routine. Light jogging for 30 minutes, two to three times a week is the best way to go about it. If you want to get rid of fat without losing your body’s capability of building muscles, sprint intervals could do the trick.
2. It’s Not Always About Calories. You might think that building muscle mass is a good excuse to indulge on pizza and steak. After all, working out damages muscle tissues and rebuilding them requires energy under the name, calories. Hence, it’s a win-win situation for you.
Apparently, that’s not how it goes. Extremely high calorie intakes lead to increase in body fat. This makes you bigger, however, there are extra calories left since your muscle tissues don’t require that much. The worst part is it leaves you with extra fat.
Therefore, stick to a healthy diet and avoid refined sugars and processed foods. At the same time, aim for 300 to 500 calories everyday. This amount is good enough to sustain your energy, keeps your weight at bay, and helps build muscle.
3. Train your entire body. It is tempting to focus on one muscle group during workouts. Besides, all you need is toned biceps and six-pack abs so why work out the rest of the muscles in your body.
That’s not the way to do it. Exercises are either single joint or isolation and multi-joint or compound. Most fitness experts require multi-joint workouts because more muscle groups come into action and make it easier for you to lift more weight.
Consequently, the more muscles you involve, the greater the hormone release you can get, which stimulates muscle growth.
In doing multi-joint exercises, make sure to do this early in your workout while your body is still fresh. Hit each muscle group with the same number of reps to ensure balanced training. This also minimizes risk of injury and preserves flexibility. Save the single joint exercises such as leg extension or chest fly towards the end of the workout.
4. Train, and Then Eat After. One of the biggest mistakes people make in the world of fitness is that they don’t eat after workout. This could be problematic because your body is weak and needs sustenance to be able to recover.
When it comes to after-training meal, carb and protein is your best choice. Before you react, here is the best part: your body is less likely to take carb on the fat-storing pathways and instead, send it down to growth-promoting area. This boosts insulin levels and kick-start the process of muscle growth. The combination of protein and carbs from this area also leads to muscle feeding, thank to the boost in insulin levels.
After workout, you know what to do. Make sure to watch your food intake so you won’t compromise what you worked for.
5. Allow Your Body to Recover. Fact: building muscles doesn’t happen overnight. You might be excited to see the results, which is why you spend extra time in the gym until you see an improvement. While this sounds as a good plan, it is important to allow your body to rest and recover.
By rest and recover, this means getting enough sleep. Sleeping seven to eight hours of sleep every night is enough time to allow your body to recover. In case you missed a few hours, make sure to make up for it.
Aside from this, training for a maximum of four times a day is enough to help you build muscle while allowing your body to get some rest. Alternate your training and rest days to give your body sufficient time for recovery. Rest period of one to two minutes is also important to ensure recovery before lifting weights again.
6. Do less. Did you know that less is more when it comes to weight training? You think that the higher number of reps will build more muscles. Believe it or not, doing more could do more harm than good.
Therefore, stick to eight to 12 reps per set and nothing more than 20. Multiple studies show that doing reps within this range is more effective than doing more than 12. When you do so, make sure to go heavy early while you strength levels are on its peak and move at a controlled speed to ensure muscle growth.
This doesn’t mean you should go heavy all the way. For multi-joint exercises, fitness experts recommend few lower-reps set, preferably not more than six reps. This is enough to stimulate strength gains and prime your body for size.
Remember: light weights for higher reps and heavier weights for lower reps.
7. Stay Hydrated. Before you start strength training and all throughout your workout, it is important to keep yourself hydrated. Drinking lots of water especially prior to your workout helps you feel full and reduce any feelings of hunger.
During your training, drink at least eight ounces of water every 15 to 20 minutes, especially during hot days. Your performance suffers by up to two percent when you are dehydrated.
If you waited until you feel thirsty, then you waited too long, which could affect your body’s performance.
Water is the best choice to stay hydrated. You can also go for low-calorie sports drinks to maintain energy levels.
8. Change It Up. It’s okay to follow a specific routine every training day. It maintains uniformity and helps you test your body’s capacity, especially if you are getting better in a given routine. Here’s the problem: your body starts to get used to it, which makes strength training or any kind of workout less challenging.
Therefore, change it up. Every four to six weeks, change some parts of your routine for variation. Alter the number of reps you do, the exercises you perform, the amount of time dedicated for rest, and any other training variables. Take note of these changes on your workout journal, so you can see any progress. It will remind you of what you’ve been able to accomplish so far, which will motivate you to keep on going.
9. Remember: Mass Gain Varies. You may be spending a considerable amount of time in the gym or running around the neighborhood to get those toned muscles; however, it is taking you too long to see the results. On the other hand, there’s this guy or gal who started lifting weights a few months after you did, and yet, the results are more obvious on them.
What Went wrong?
Keep in mind that muscle gains vary from person to person depending on various factors, such as body size and level of experience. Naturally, men have a higher percentage of lean muscle mass and skeletal muscles than women do. Men’s muscles are also stronger than women’s by five to 10 percent.
In other words, mass gain varies. Instead of relying on what you see in the mirror, use a tape measure to keep track of the changes in your body. Measure and record your biceps, waist, hips, chest and quads. This way, you will see how much mass you are gaining.
10. Train with a partner. You might feel self-conscious when a stranger is watching you work out; however, having a spotter or a friend with the sufficient know how on strength training may help you a lot in your training.
A spotter ensures exercise safety, especially when you are lifting heavy weights. They can help you lift for an additional rep or two when you experience muscle failure.
They can also help you do negative reps, wherein you lift weights and take up to five seconds to lower them. This induces damage and tension, there by stimulating muscle growth. He could also strip off the proper amount of weight during your last set of exercise.
More importantly, a spotter is there to encourage you to work out more when you feel like giving up.
It takes time to build muscles mass. Include strength training in your workout routine, allow your body to recover, and be patient. You will see the results in no time, but take it easy. An injury will set you back even further, so build up slowly and steadily.
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