5 Rules for Building Muscle Mass
Are you the guy who slips through the slightly open crack in the locked gate to let your friends in on the other side? Maybe you're the one who cringes every time you have to take your shirt off whenever your team is 'skins'. If so, building muscle mass may seem like an impossible mission for you.
The good news is bulking up is easier than you think. Beyond all the latest exercise fads, videos of the month, and commercialized trends, there is time-tested training and dieting principles that are naturally proven to help you pack on the meat regardless of other techniques you incorporate into your workout. Most fitness experts agree upon these bedrock principles.
Real muscle building doesn't happen overnight, so give yourself some time and consistency to meet your goals, and you'll see your body mass improve in time.
Rule #1: Protein! Protein! Protein!
It's almost impossible to be in the fitness world for any period without hearing "protein" shouted out like a college fight song. The skinny is this: Protein is stored in the body through synthesis. How much your muscle grows is in direct correlation with how much protein you shove in your mouth. The problem is that protein is a hot commodity in your body. Because it's utilized so fast, it is often depleted at a high rate. The answer? More protein.
Rule #2: A Protein Diet
Rule #2 is to follow rule #1. Add as much protein to your diet as you possibly can. Increased protein intake is beneficial to you as you increase your workout regiment. There are several natural sources of protein that the body can utilize every single day.
Meat is the number one source. Chicken, fish, beef, and pork all have healthy doses of protein. Although opinions vary on which is meat is best, and how it should be prepared, there's no denying that meat is an excellent source. Other sources of protein include cottage cheese, eggs, milk, and various nuts.
Rule #3: Work Out Every Other Day
This is a no-brainer for workout experts. Working the same muscles every single day causes more deterioration than growth. Your muscles grow when they are resting, not during intense workout times. If you feel the need to work every muscle, then schedule a full body workout on your iron pumping days.
By giving your muscles some time off, you'll notice an accelerated rate of muscle mass at a faster rate. Protein synthesis is at its peak when the muscles are off the clock. If you decide to alternate muscle categories, then do so at 48-hour intervals. Putting your muscles to bed is as crucial as waking them up.
Rule #4: Carb Up
If you haven't figured it out by now, what you put in your body in the kitchen is as important to maximizing muscle mass as what you do to your body in the gym. And, yes, carbs are part of the equation. Post workout meals with carbs will increase insulin levels that decrease the rate at which protein breaks down. This keeps more protein in the body for longer periods.
But careful, your carb intake could include particular types of foods that can pack on more fat than you need. Good carbs can be found in vegetables, whole fruits such as bananas and apples, legumes such as lentils and kidney beans, nuts, pumpkin seeds, whole grains, and potatoes.
Rule #5: Strength Training
No, we didn't say bodybuilding. Leave that to the pros. We're talking about strength training which requires a different mindset. The concept is simple: add weight to your workout as you go and as your body will allow. By adding weight incrementally, you will naturally gain more muscle mass as your body can handle more repetitions with more weight across the bar.
Remember, this is a process that happens over time, so it's important not to add too much weight too fast. Your body is often an indicator of how much you can handle in any given setting.
Focusing on the Goal
Setting goals is essential in building muscle mass. Goals help you measure your success while giving you something to work toward. Decide what your overall goal and then break it up into smaller achievable goals that serve as benchmarks along the way.
Weight training is a serious endeavor that combines discipline and recreation. Take it too seriously, and you may burn out. Don't take it seriously enough, and you'll still be the guy squeezing through the crack in the open gate.
What do you do to build muscle mass? We'd like to hear from you, sir. Please share with us your training or dieting methods in the comments below!