6 Fundamentals on How to Gain Muscle
Looking to put on muscle? You've come to the right place!
Whether you're looking to gain muscle for physique or function, maintaining muscle mass has numerous health benefits including:
- Reducing the risk of heart disease.
- Aiding in weight loss and metabolism.
- Preventing injury.
- Boosting mood and mental health.
- Improving overall health and wellness.
Easier said than done, gaining and maintaining muscle takes time, dedication, a proper diet, and consistency.
If you're ready to put in the work, keep reading to learn more about these muscle building fundamentals.
Here's your sneak peek...
- Increase Protein Intake
- Eat More
- Lift Heavy
- Use Supplements
- Add Carbohydrates to Your Recovery
- Incorporate Rest and Recovery
INCREASE PROTEIN INTAKE
A simple rule of thumb when building muscle mass, eat 1 gram of protein per pound of body weight every day.
Remember this, your body needs protein to function, your muscles need protein to grow.
The more protein you have in your body, the more protein your muscles have to build off of - it's called protein synthesis.
Simply put, your body is constantly using your body's protein stores to:
- Build and strengthen bones, muscles, cartilage, and skin.
- Repair worn-down and damaged tissue.
- Oxygenate blood cells and regulate metabolic reactions.
- Maintain adequate pH and fluid balance.
...and with all these responsibilities, your protein stores are always being drained, which isn't good news for those trying to build muscle. This is why you need to eat adequate amounts of protein daily.
Add these high-protein foods to your diet to hit that 1 gram per pound goal:
- Fish and Seafood
- Chicken Breast
- Lean Red Meat
- Low-fat Milk, Yogurt, and Cheese
- High Quality Protein Powders
Your muscles need fuel and not just protein.
We're talking calories.
Typically, you won't be gaining muscle while you're in a caloric deficit, but more of a maintenance or surplus.
Your body needs protein, carbs, fats, and micronutrients in order to grow in size and strength. If you're looking to gain muscle, now's not the time to be restricting calories.
Small weights and high reps aren't ideal for building muscle. If your goal is to build size and strength, you'll need to start lifting heavy.
When you start lifting heavier weights, it puts more stress on your muscles and causes greater muscle tear. Although this may sound bad, this is the beginning of muscle building.
Here's how it goes:
- Muscle tears are caused when your muscles are under stress from physical exercise, ie lifting heavy weights.
- You'll feel these muscle tears after a workout when you're feeling "sore".
- Once torn, your body uses stored protein to repair and rebuild the tears.
- The body will "over repair" the damaged muscle fibers which result in the building of muscles.
Compound movements like barbell squats, deadlifts, and bench presses are great exercises to build strength and mass.
Add these movements to your training regime to build strength. The popular 5x5 rep x set range is perfect for building mass.
USE SUPPLEMENTS TO YOUR BENEFIT
High quality supplements can help you meet your protein needs, help optimize your training, and help your post workout muscle recovery.
Take a quick look at these supplements and how you can incorporate them into your lifestyle.
Adding a protein powder to your daily diet can help fill the gaps and help you meet your protein needs.
(Remember, one gram of protein per pound to build muscle is ideal, protein powder can help you meet this mark.)
Protein powders help to effectively build muscle, improve recovery time, and promote a healthy weight.
Whey protein is great for individuals who want a higher source of BCAAs and have no dietary restrictions.
Plant protein powders, such as pea and brown rice protein, are great for individuals who have a lactose intolerance or choose a plant based lifestyle.
Check out these easy ways to add protein powder into your day:
- Add a scoop of protein to your coffee, known as a "profee"
- Add protein powder to your smoothies, smoothie bowls, and yogurt bowls.
- Add protein powder to overnight oats.
- Use a protein shake as a high protein, low fat snack.
- Drink a protein shake after your workout to help restore your body's protein stores.
Hydrolyzed collagen peptides are high in amino acids that aid in muscle growth.
Studies have shown that on top of resistance training, supplementing with collagen peptides had increase fast free mass and strength.
Aside from supporting your muscles, adding collagen to your diet also improves the health and integrity of your joints, ligaments, and the connective tissues of your tendons.
Branch Chained Amino Acids are the building blocks of protein and your muscles. They contain three essential amino acids; Leucine, Isoleucine, and Valine.
Leucine works to boost protein synthesis and increase growth.
Isoleucine works to improve recovery after strenuous training sessions.
Valine works to repair torn muscle tissue fibers to ultimately promote muscle growth.
All together, BCAAs help to:
- Boost Protein Synthesis
- Prevent Loss Muscle Mass
- Improve Muscle Growth
- Reduce Muscle Soreness and Fatigue
- Shorten and Improve Recovery
When training, the best time to take BCAAs is either 15-20 minutes your workout or during your workout.
Creatine is one of the most widely studied supplements in sports nutrition.
Here's why, Creatine:
- Increases phosphocreatine stores, which creates more ATP to fuel muscles.
- Supports muscle gain by maximizing strength and fighting off fatigue.
- Reduces lactic build up, which improves endurance and anaerobic performance.
- Has been proven to increase strength, lean muscle mass, and athletic performance.
Although our bodies naturally produce creatine, supplementing with 5 grams of creatine per day helps to saturate your muscles' creatine stores which will improve mass, power, and explosiveness.
ADD CARBOHYDRATES TO YOUR RECOVERY
You need them to recover and BUILD muscle.
And we don't mean shitty carbohydrates that will counteract your gains, we're talking about a good post workout shake with clean carbohydrates to help you recover.
During training, your body uses it's glycogen stores as fuel. Glycogen is the storage form of carbohydrates and once these stores dry up, you'll need to replace them to avoid fatigue and decreased performance.
Consuming carbohydrates after your workout will replace depleted glycogen stores and replenish your muscles to help you recover for your next workout.
MUSCLES NEED REST, RECOVERY, AND SLEEP
Your muscles need protein, training, and SLEEP!
Ideally 8-10 hours a night, but if you can't hit that goal, get at least 6 hours to ensure your muscles have time to rest, recover, and rebuild.
When you train, your muscles begin to tear. Your body will use its protein stores to rebuild these tears, but your body will need rest in order to do so, this is where sleep comes in.
When you get adequate sleep, your body releases hormones to help you rebuild those tears, recover, and grow muscle.
Don't skip out on your sleep, not only is it important for your muscles, it's important for your overall well being.
You need to:
- Increase your protein intake.
- Eat more. Food = Fuel.
- Lift heavy and in the correct rep ranges.
- Use high quality supplements to your benefit.
- Remember that your muscles love carbs, if you want to grow muscles, now's not the time to cut them out of your diet.
- Get enough sleep and rest so that your muscles can recover and rebuild.
AND be consistent! If you're serious about putting on muscle, get disciplined, put in the work, and the muscles will grow.