Firm biceps and visible abs : that’s what many people dive into the gym for. Yet many of them also give up within a few months. After all, if those results fail, it’s easy to believe that building muscle will not be your thing.
However, it is not necessary to put your intentions out immediately. Anyone can build muscle, if you know how to do it! How do you prevent yourself from doing nothing for months? With the tips below you know exactly what to look out for.
Muscle Mass and Muscle Recovery
To understand how you build muscle mass, you will of course need to understand exactly how muscle growth works. In fact, the mechanism is very simple, although a bit counterintuitive. In order to grow your muscles , you first have to slightly damage them. You do this by training: if you exert yourself very strongly, tiny cracks will appear in the muscle tissue.
Fortunately that sounds serious than it is. Your body recovers afterwards, and it does so by repairing your muscles a little bit stronger than they used to be. That way you build up just a little more strength and muscle mass after every workout!
The Right Exercises –
When setting up a training schedule, choosing the right exercises is of course important. It is most efficient to go for compound exercises as much as possible , such as the squat , dead lift and the bench press . This allows you to address multiple muscle groups in one movement, and thus you train more muscle mass at the same time.
Also make sure that all muscle groups are included in your fitness schedule . You don’t want to end up with broad shoulders and pivot legs, to name a few.
Once you have established a sports schedule, it is important that it does not stop there. You will have to develop further from that first schedule! After all, your body is getting stronger, so weights that were once challenging will go very easily. And of course you do not do the necessary muscle damage with that.
So you will have to make it hard for yourself again and again. That does not only mean that you use increasingly heavier weights. Other factors can also play a role, such as the number of repetitions or the duration of your breaks. Whatever you do, make sure your training isn’t the same week after week. Challenge yourself! That may sound logical, but many people are already broken up here in the beginning.
The last thing to look out for in your training schedule is the amount of rest you take. That may sound a bit strange; after all, your training sessions are the moments when you are busy. Still, the recovery time you take is an essential condition for success. That makes sense if you realize that muscle growth is mainly a matter of ‘damage repair’.
Your muscles do not grow through training, but through recovery between training sessions. Therefore, there should always be at least 48 hours between two workouts of the same muscle group, and even more with some athletes. You can plan workouts in quick succession, but do that for different muscle groups.
A Calorie Surplus –
Of course you need sufficient building materials to build muscle mass. After all, you have to build new body tissue, and it has to come from somewhere. For that reason you need a calorie surplus to build more muscle mass. Of course you should not go overboard completely: you eat a little more, but also no pounds and kilos.
On average, a surplus of about 10 to 20% of your calorie requirement is about good. That means an extra 300 to 500 calories a day for most people . You don’t have to keep a detailed record every day, but keep an eye on it!
Proteins for Muscle Mass
Also make sure that the macro nutrients in your diet are well balanced . To start, of course, you need enough protein . Proteins consist of amino acids , which in turn are used by your body to build new muscle tissues. As a strength athlete you can maintain about 1.5-1.8 grams of protein per kilo of body weight every day.
As for the rest: you really need carbohydrates and fats , despite all the diet types in which they are completely deleted. For example, in our Fit Chef book you will find a lot of suitable recipes with which you can get everything in the right proportion.
One last question you hear a lot about sports nutrition is whether you need supplements to build muscle. The answer is very simple: no, you certainly don’t need them. If you get no results without supplements, some powders and pills will not change that. The problem lies elsewhere in your training schedule or lifestyle!
If you do get results without supplements, you often do not really benefit from those extras. In short, you can do well on healthy, natural food. In some cases, supplements can give a helping hand; protein powders can be very easy, for example. But don’t feel obliged to stock up on tons of it!
Cardio Training ?
And also a question that sometimes comes up: do you need to do cardio in addition to strength training if you want to build muscle mass? It can certainly be a good idea, but keep an eye on your primary goal. As you know you need a calorie surplus.
This means that you will have to offset the calories you consume with cardio somewhere. Focus on (heavy, but controlled) strength training , do mainly compound exercises and (optionally) add some cardio to your sports schedule.
Preferably do not plan your cardio workouts for your strength training. This way you prevent that you no longer have any energy left to train intensively. In addition, you usually do not need more than two cardio workouts per week.