Whether you are a bodybuilder, an athlete or a couch potato trying to get in better shape, building muscle mass can help you reach your fitness goals. These eight tips will help you build muscle mass.
1. Load Up on Protein
Protein synthesis is a key component of increasing your muscle mass. For protein synthesis to work, your body needs to maintain a large enough store of protein. However, because your body also uses protein for processes other than muscle building, you need to consume protein at a higher rate than your body can break down your existing protein stores. Research has shown that the body can use about 1 gram of protein per pound of body weight. You can get this protein from food sources, such as lean meats, or supplements, such as protein powder.
2. Get Enough Calories
To build muscle, you need more than just protein. You also need energy. To determine your daily calorie goal, take your weight in pounds and multiple it by 12 to get an estimate of your basic calorie needs. Next, multiple that figure by 1.6 to get your resting metabolic rate. Take the number of minutes you spend lifting weights per week and multiply it by five. Multiply your aerobic training minutes per week by eight. Add the results of those two calculations and then divide by seven. Finally, add your RMR to the result of that calculation to get your daily calorie needs. Add 500 calories to this total to gain one pound per week. If after two weeks you aren't seeing any gains, increase your daily calorie intake by another 500.
3. Drink a Pre-Workout Shake
Exercise increases blood flow to your muscles. Studies have shown that consuming a mix of carbohydrates and proteins before exercising can increase the uptake of amino acids by your muscles, which can lead to bigger gains. Include 10 to 20 grams of protein in your pre-workout shake and drink it 30 to 60 minutes before your workout. You can get a similar mix of protein and carbs by eating a meal instead, but liquid meals are recommended because they are absorbed faster.
4. Focus on Multi-Joint Exercises
To put on the most mass, focus the bulk of your workout on performing exercises that work multiple joints and muscles at the same time. This allows you to lift more weight, which is important for stimulating muscle growth. It also helps build functional strength by working your muscles together, the same way you would when playing sports or doing normal activities. Examples of multi-joint exercises include deadlifts, squats, pull ups and bench presses.
5. Lift Heavy Weights
Lifting heavy weights helps build muscle on both the concentric and eccentric parts of the lift. This is because challenging your muscles with heavy weights forces you to control the weight when you are lowering it and when you are lifting it, which results in an increase in muscle tear and rebuild. Focus on five rep sets with heavy weights, instead of higher rep sets with lighter weights.
6. Don't Always Work to Exhaustion
Your muscles grow during recovery time. It is OK to do tough workouts up to three times per week, but avoid doing them on consecutive days. For the rest of the week, aim for workouts that challenge you but leave you feeling good, instead of exhausted.
7. Eat Every Three Hours
Your body will build new proteins at its most effective rate if you consume around 20 grams of protein every three hours. To determine how much you should eat at each meal, take your total daily calorie goal and divide that by six.
8. Consume Carbs Post-Workout
Consuming carbohydrates increases insulin levels, which slows the rate that protein is broken down in your body. Consuming some carbs after your workout will help promote muscle growth during your recovery period.
There is no one set way to build muscle mass. However, these tips can help you get the most out of your workouts.