The key to building muscle is consistency. Anyone can follow a bodybuilding lifestyle for a day or a week or a month, but the key to sustained growth is to follow your training, diet and rest principles always. Building muscle isn't rocket science, but it does require diligence and planning. Some people are genetically predisposed to gain more muscle than the average person, while some people may find it extremely difficult to gain any muscle at all. It is especially important for those ‘hardgainers' to follow the principles outlined below in order to maximise their anabolic potential.
The exact breakdowns of macronutrients varies between experts, but the key point which everyone agrees on is that you must be in calorie surplus if you want to build muscle. There are a few minor exceptions to this rule, but for almost everyone, you need to eat more energy than you expend if you want to gain muscle.
Eat More Protein
Again, there is debate about what exactly you need to eat to gain muscle, but everyone agrees you need a moderate-high protein intake. Since muscle is made of protein, the body utilises dietary protein to rebuild the muscles damaged by exercise. The rebuilding of this damage is what causes muscle to grow. We recommend aiming for 1g of protein per pound of bodyweight every day.
Don't Forget Fat
Many people focus on protein and carbohydrates when trying to add mass, but it is extremely difficult, and dangerous, to bulk up without adding enough dietary fat. Dietary fat and body fat are two completely separate things, although people seem to confuse the two and think that the more fat they eat, the more fat they will store. This is only partly true, as it depends again on overall calories taken in. Healthy fats from olive oil, avocado, almonds, walnuts, CLA, fish, fish oil, and a variety of other natural sources are a great way to boost your overall calorie intake, and are necessary for overall health.
Fruit and Vegetables
A variety of fruits and vegetables are also important if you are looking to add muscle. While calorically, they have very little value, it is the nutrients contained in these foods that can make a huge difference in your efforts. Fibre, for example, will help all that food you are eating digest more efficiently and help more of it be absorbed. The vitamins and minerals in fruit and vegetables cannot be replicated as well in supplement form, and it is always better to get these from your diet.
You need to give your muscles a reason to grow. All that extra food, without a solid training program, will help you gain weight for sure. Most of it will be fat, though. You need to give your body a reason to utilise all those extra nutrients, and heavy, consistent weight training which damages muscles and causes them to utilise amino acids for repair, is necessary.
Your body is extremely good at adapting to the stresses placed on it, and in little time it will have adapted to the weights you originally used to stress it, and therefore stop growing. On a weekly basis, you should be looking to increase the strength of your muscles either by adding reps, adding weight, or increasing intensity. Keep the rep range low to moderate for the most part - you won't be placing adequate stress on the muscle by doing 30 reps at a low weight.
Part of a successful training routine is deciding when not to train. Your muscles grow at rest, so you need to make sure you have given your body enough time to repair your muscles before you damage them again. Overtraining will cause your body to shut down and stop growing.
While dietary protein is almost better in every situation, there are certain instances where your body can benefit from taking a protein supplement. Post workout, for example, is a key time when you need protein to be digested as quickly as possible. A whey protein isolate will absorb faster than any protein source you can chew, so take advantage of the anabolic window after your workout with a shake.
For those who struggle to put on weight, and for those who struggle to eat enough meals in a day, a weight gainer shake is a great option. Liquid calories are much easier to consume than solid ones, and a good weight gainer product can contain over a thousand calories per serve!
A proven supplement to enhance muscle size and strength, creatine is a must for anyone looking to build as much muscle as safely and legally possible. Creatine draws water into the muscle cells, causing them to stretch and to grow. The extra water weight inside those muscle cells also means that power output is increased, allowing you to move bigger weights, and therefore increase strength and muscle faster.
There you have a brief overview of what it takes to build muscle. Take advantage of years and years of research and trial and error others have done for you, and you will be able to realise your genetic potential in as short a period of time as possible. Building muscle isn't rocket science, but for most people it's not easy, either.
Click here to read our Disclaimer