Building muscle is not easy, and it is most certainly not something that can happen overnight, or even within a couple of weeks. Forget about all of those nonsense advertisements you see on the internet, promising to add “40lbs of lean solid muscle within 4 weeks” because that is just not possible, even with the assistance of performance and physique enhancing drugs. Building muscle is the perfect example of something being a marathon rather than a sprint. In order to build muscle, you need to be in it for the long haul, and because of that, many people are deterred and put off. They may go to the gym for a few weeks, increase their strength, and possibly even their physiques slightly, yet because the changes they’re making aren’t especially dramatic, and aren’t happening overnight, they simply give in and throw in the towel. If you’re looking to bulk up, slim down, and shape up for the summer, here are six great muscle building tips guaranteed to help you pile on pounds of muscle mass, much quicker than you could have ever imagined.
Don’t get caught up in fad diets and programs
Unfortunately, one of the main problems with many of us, is simply the fact that we’re too gullible and are perhaps too trusting as a result. We will see a product claiming to do something, and will take that as gospel, despite the fact that 90% of the time, these outrageous claims are all down to clever advertising and marketing. Weight training is obviously the most beneficial form of training in order to build muscle, but the problem is that people over-think things and get caught up in hype created by social media etc. The great thing about lifting weights, is that as the exercises are so simple, once you’ve mastered your technique and form, it becomes a piece of cake. Talking of cake, your diet is also crucially important if you wish to build muscle, but the thing to remember is that there is no substitute for good quality whole foods. That means you should forget about meal replacements, forget about the 5:2 diet, forget about the cabbage soup diet, or any other diet for that matter. Simply consume wholesome, nutritious food, train smart, and you’ll soon begin making progress.
Don’t be afraid of a little fat gain
Obviously very few people will ever want to intentionally gain body fat, but unfortunately, if you’re looking to bulk up and build muscle that is exactly what must happen. In order to build muscle, you need to be consuming more calories than you are burning off, otherwise you won’t store anything be it fat, muscle or otherwise. Because of this, your body fat percentages will increase slightly, but that’s just part of bulking. However, the thing to remember is that this is not an excuse to binge eat and stuff yourself full of junk food and excessive calories, because that is extremely unhealthy and that will result in you gaining too much body fat. If you calculate your calories carefully, and make sure that you don’t go too high above maintenance, you can still build muscle and keep fat gain to a minimum. If you’re trying to build muscle whilst maintaining a six pack and 8% body fat however, that just isn’t going to happen.
Ensure you get enough protein
Protein and muscle gain go hand in hand with one another, and for good reason too. Protein is vital for the growth and repair of muscle tissue, which is why it’s so important that we consume enough each day. Get your protein from clean sources including: Chicken, turkey, lean red meats, seafood, fish, organic eggs, nuts, seeds, tofu, soya and protein powders. Aim to consume 1.5 g of protein for every pound that you weigh, so if you weigh 210lbs, you will require 315g of protein each day.
Make sure you get plenty of sleep
You can lift all the weights you like, and consume as much protein as your body will allow, but the simple fact remains that if you aren’t getting enough good quality sleep each night, your body just will not grow as it should, rendering your exercise and nutritional regime pretty pointless. We do 90% of our growing in our sleep, as our bodies rebuild and repair damaged muscle tissues and fibres. If you aren’t getting enough sleep however, your body can only do half a job. Aim for 7 – 8 hours sleep each night, and make sure you go to sleep at the same time each night, and wake up at the same time each morning.
Compound and isolation exercises are both key
We’ve spoken about food and sleep thus far, but not about training, so here we go. Obviously in order to build muscle you’re going to ensure you’re lifting weights and are following a smart training regime each week. Make sure your training combines compound exercises, and isolation exercises, as combining the two will yield the most impressive muscle gains. Compound exercises work multiple muscle groups at once, whereas isolation exercises do just that, they isolate a muscle group so that you’re simply working just that one and no others. They’re both just as important as one another, although compound exercises do tend to build more muscle more quickly. For this reason, it’s recommended you base around 60% of your workout around compound movements, and the final 40% on isolation exercises which will fatigue, shape, and sculpt the muscles.
Always remember your post-workout shake!
Whereas supplements are no substitute for real food, when it comes to post-workout nutrition, downing a shake enriched with protein and amino acids is going to be far more convenient that whipping out chicken, broccoli, and sweet potato. The idea behind post-workout nutrition, is to flood the muscles, or rather, flood the cells within the muscles, with protein, amino acids, and other nutrients that are essential for muscle growth and repair. After a workout, the cells are primed for maximum nutrient absorption, which means that for around one hour they can absorb up to 33% more nutrients than at any other point in the day. For this reason, you need a fast absorbing protein source, complete with amino acids to help speed up the recovery process. Always go with a fast absorbing protein such as whey, and mix with water as it absorbs far quicker than milk.