Want to be stronger and more confident?
Want to be bigger and fill out those t-shirt arms?
Want to look good walking down the beach?
Whatever your reason for wanting to build muscle, it is a perfectly valid fitness goal and Active Goals is here to help with the knowledge and workouts you need.
Muscle building is going to require you to eat a calorie surplus. You are going to need to eat more calories than you burn so you have extra to build muscle.
As well as ensuring you are consuming enough overall calories to build muscle you are going to need to pay extra attention to protein. Proteins are the building blocks for the body. It is recommended that you consume approximately 1 gram of protein for each lb of bodyweight to repair and build your muscles.
Muscles are made in the kitchen as well as the gym!
Read my article ‘The Macros Diet, A Healthier Way’ for all the information you need on calculating how many calories and what quantity of each macro nutrient you should be consuming.
Your body needs time to recover from your weight training sessions and to have a chance to build muscle, so it is important that you are getting a good 7-8 hours sleep per night. At least as close to this as possible.
It has also been proven that lack of sleep increases the likelihood of gaining fat.
You also need to make sure that your body has a chance to recover properly in between sessions. If your workouts are intense enough, you should not be training the same muscle group one day after the other.
Sometimes less is more. When it comes to muscle building, it is just as important to give your body the chance to build that muscle as it is to train hard at the gym. If you train too intensely without the adequate recovery time, you will end up over training and not getting the results you want.
Allowing time is your best form of recovery but here are a few ways to speed up that recovery process:
- Foam rolling
- Active recovery (light cardio activity)
- Contrast water therapy (alternating hot / cold)
- Good hydration
- Good nutrition
As you need extra calories for muscle building then it is advised not to do too much cardio as this will also burn calories that would otherwise be used for muscle growth.
However, assuming we are looking to gain muscle and stay lean then some cardio will be beneficial to keep the fat cells at bay.
This is going to be a bit of trial and error as everyone has different metabolisms and stores fat differently. I advise starting with 2, half hour cardio sessions a week and keep increasing this if required. If you start to put fat on along with muscle then you will need to increase this until you find the right balance.
There are many different supplements available out there which will help in varying degrees.
I think it’s important to get the basics right before looking to supplement your diet. However, there are several supplements that will offer an advantage. Which ones and how many you take will come down to your budget (as many of them are not cheap) and your own judgement.
These are the most popular ones:
As mentioned above, protein is the building block of the human body. When consuming extra protein to support your muscle building, it can be hard to get this all in the form of food. Especially when you consider that 100g of cooked chicken breast only has about 30 grams of protein in it. It can therefore be beneficial to consume some of this protein in the form of a shake.
Whey protein is the most popular type of protein and is a by-product of making cheese. Other vegetable based proteins are available if you prefer, but make sure that they contain a complete amino acid profile.
You can get whey protein concentrate and isolate. Isolate is more refined and therefore gets digested quicker for your body to use. This may be beneficial straight after a workout.
Casein protein is another form of milk protein which is slower digesting than whey. This one may be good to have before bed to provide a slow release of protein whilst you sleep.
Immediately after working out is the most important time to have a protein shake.
Multi-vitamins as a bit like a nutritional insurance policy. If you follow a healthy diet, there is a good chance that you are getting all the vitamins and minerals you require. However, if you are lacking in a couple then the multi-vitamin will top these up.
Building muscle increases the processes that your body needs to perform and therefore you will also require more vitamins and minerals than someone who doesn’t train.
Basically, a product that gives you more energy to train with. Taken just before you train, often in a powder form but can sometimes come as a gel. There are many brands available, with all different ingredients and at different price points.
One of the key ingredients in pre-workouts is caffeine. Caffeine supplements can also be purchased separately, without the other ingredients and at a fraction of the cost, if preferred.
Branch chain amino acids
These are three of the essential amino acids. Essential amino acids are the ones that your body isn’t able to produce on it’s own. Branch-chain refers to their chemical structure. Although these amino acids are found in other protein supplements there is some research to show that supplementing with BCAAs in addition to whey protein may build more muscle, reduce muscle soreness and reduce fatigue.
Creatine is a compound that gets stored within your muscles and provides additional energy / power. Although creatine gets consumed naturally in food such as red meat, it’s only found in very small quantities – unless you eat kilograms of steak a day! Therefore, supplementing with it can give you more power and better performance than you would have otherwise.
Essentially really fast digesting sugar. Can be taken either during your workout to provide a stream of energy or post workout to replenish your muscles energy that you have just used.
Remember that muscle building takes time. You can only build so much muscle per week. This amount is relatively small and will vary for each person. Over time, all these small amounts of extra muscle will build up and become the body you set out to achieve. It’s a long process but one that you need to stick to if you want to see results. Remember your goals and keep going.
If it was easy then everyone would be walking around with a perfect physique.
It’s important that you track your progress for motivation and for feedback on what works best for your body.
Remember that muscle weighs more than fat and therefore the scales really aren’t the best way to keep track.
Using measurements around key body parts is best.
- Chest / back
- Upper arm
Measuring your body fat percentage is also a good way on keeping an eye on whether you are increasing fat as well as muscle. You can use a machine for this or a set of skin fold callipers.
Don’t forget photos!