Most men and women who work out seek to build more muscle for a number of aesthetic and health reasons. The reasons to build muscle range from bulking or toning up, speeding up metabolism, increasing athletic performance, weight gain or weight loss, injury prevention and much, much more. Whatever your reason for lifting weights, we are sure it is a good one and we encourage you to meet your goals as quickly as possible.
Diet and Exercise are Key
You can’t build the muscle you want without first fueling your body the right way. If you want to get better results from your weight lifting you’ll have to educate yourself a bit more about the nutrients that will work best to kick your body into high gear.
One of the first recommendations Lisa Scotto makes – one of personal trainers who was also a competitive body builder –is increasing your protein intake on the days you are working out. “I’d tell my clients to try and consume one gram of protein for every pound of body weight in order to give the body the fuel it needs to build muscle and repair itself from intense workouts,” says Lisa. For example, if you weigh 180 pounds you’d want to try and consume 180 grams of protein on the days you are weight training.
Note: Your body can only digest about 35 grams of protein per sitting. So mixing a half pint of almond milk and three scoops of protein powder won’t help you much.
Looking to Gain Weight?
If you are looking to gain weight to bulk up a bit then you’ll also need to increase your daily caloric consumption. Here is some simple math for you to help you decide on how many calories you need to consume to put on some weight in a health manner:
3,500 = roughly one pound
So if you were to consume an extra 500 calories per day (500 calories x 7 days = 3,500) you would be able to gain one pound a week or four pounds a month. Boost that number to 1,000 calories per day and you could gain as much as eight pounds a month.
What You Eat Matters
Just because you are eating different types of foods doesn’t mean you should get your nutrients from anywhere. Jason Gwaltney, a former college football player and a Fitness Nutritional Specialist, says you should consider eating healthy proteins and carbs like eggs, oats, nuts, fruit, turkey, yogurt, chicken, lean beef, fish, brown rice and wholegrain pastas. “I also recommend switching the three-meal-a-day standard to something that sees you eating more like six snacks/meals per day instead,” says Jason.
This is the other really important part of quickly building muscle next to nutrition. Here are some hard and fast recommendations from all personal trainers:
– Don’t skip working out the legs!
– Weight train at least three times a week
– Workout all areas of the body
What you do in the gym is up to you but it is important to target the different areas of your body that help you keep a balanced look. This is not only important for appearance (you know the guy at the gym with huge arms and little chicken legs?) but also because having a stronger upper body and a weaker lower body may place additional strain on the lower body because of that extra weight.
Look to target areas such as your arms, chest, back, shoulders and core as well as your calves, glutes, thighs, legs and everything in between. If you are not sure how to get a complete full body workout over the course of the week ask one of personal trainers or a trainer at your local gym.
Get Some Rest
Even the most seasoned weight trainers will tell you that rest is as important to building muscle as is nutrition and exercise. Your muscles and overall nervous system need time to recover and taking a day off between weight training will actually help your progress. A common question we get is “Because I work out different areas of my body every three or four days before lifting again, is it ok that I weight train every day?” Our advice is that the entire body should get rest and be freed from the demands of weight training. Even professional bodybuilders only train four to five days a week and rest the other days.
These rest days can be supplemented with moderate cardio days or yoga-like exercises. The point is weight training every day is unnecessary and not recommended.