You must already have listened to all forms of advice on the best ways to build muscle. While many of these are presented as ‘secrets,’ ‘hacks,’ and shortcuts, building muscle requires commitment.
It is about taking care of the fundamentals and nothing to do with dieting regimes or training programs. Granted, diet and training are both keys to building muscle, but they are hardly the only considerations.
There is nothing complicated about building muscle. Once you have a grasp of certain principles, you only need to be consistent when it comes to doing some things correctly.
But you have to be patient and diligent, hardly innovative and extreme. With time, you should be able to see subtle increases in your muscle mass from one month to the next.
Don’t be deceived. You don’t need huge, drastic gains to say you are making progress. Small changes in your muscle mass will eventually add up to something bigger and admirable.
If you are one of those men, who find it challenging to gain muscles within a short time, read on to learn what you should do.
It matters not if your motivation is healthy living, aesthetics or sports performance.
While your lack of gains could be due to fast metabolism or genetics, there is a lot you can do to tilt things in your favor. All you need is to change what you eat and the way you exercise.
The following are the best ways to build muscle:
1. Set Strength Goals
Most individuals erroneously start with a target to gain a certain number of pounds of muscle after a given length of time. Nothing wrong with that given it can be done.
But it is unrealistic, especially for beginners. The goal should be to build strength and in the process give your body the ability to pile up more muscles.
Strength training is one of the best ways to build muscle, given that it makes your goals concrete and tangible.
As you attain the number of lifts you have set out to achieve, your muscles begin to respond. You don’t need to do a whole range of exercises in the beginning.
Choose three workouts in which you want to make significant improvements and stick to it. Pick an upper-body push, upper-body pull, and lower-body exercise.
As you improve in these exercises, your muscles will also begin to show.
2. Increase Your Training Volume
Training volume is the number of sets multiplied by the name of reps. Muscle growth or hypertrophy largely depends on your training volume.
To increase your training volume, you may have to use lower weights rather than raise them.
In your sets, you may want to include pull-ups, rows, presses, squats, and deadlifts. The more full the range of exercises you include in your games the better.
After all, compound lifts are known to increase the muscle mass in no time. The more the repetitions you make of these exercises, the more the levels of testosterone, which means even more muscle gain.
You may also want to include curls and leg extensions as ways of transitioning from one major workout to another.
3. Give More Focus to the Eccentric Phase
Weight training takes place in two phases, the hard (concentric) and natural (eccentric). Take the squat. Going lower is eccentric while going higher is concentric.
Research suggests that what happens during the eccentric phase is what triggers hypertrophy or muscle gain.
It is essential that you do something to increase the effort it takes to do the eccentric phase of a workout.
You could try slowing down during the eccentric period of every exercise or include exclusively odd variations. To make your squats strange only, start upwards and lower to the floor. Leave it there.
However, you have to increase the weight you are using when doing an eccentric-only exercise. This will significantly compensate for the lack of the concentric phase.
4. Decrease the Rest Intervals between Sets
When working out in the gym, you need to rest in between sets of exercises. But this doesn’t have to be for periods that are too long.
Anything between 30 and 90 seconds is good for muscle growth, given that it encourages the quick release of muscle-building hormones. It also ensures you make your muscles fatigued enough to bulge.
You might be asking yourself just why you need to fatigue your muscles. It is proven that fatiguing your muscles causes high levels of hypertrophy.
You might feel the burn for a while, but that’s the essence of doing the workout in the first place.
5. Increase Your Protein Intake
During training, the muscles in your body get broken down. You need a lot of proteins to repair and build the muscles.
As you increase the weight, intensity, and reps in your workout routines, the more the protein you need to recover. Anybody guesses that your body needs to store more protein to help build muscles.
Given that your body uses protein for other functions such as the secretion of hormones, you cannot just avoid eating more of it.
One of the best ways to build muscle is to increase your meat intake. Of all the food types, protein is going to fuel up your muscle growth.
Conventionally, it has been suggested that the amount of protein you need to build muscle is one gram for every pound of your body weight.
If you are 160 pounds in weight, you will require to eat 160 pounds a day. That’s equivalent to a chicken breast (8 ounces), cottage cheese (1 cup), roast-beef sandwich, milk (1 glass), and two eggs.
But you don’t have to eat meat if you are a vegetarian. Substitute is with beans, peas, spinach, lentils, almonds, and soy.
6. Create Calorie Surpluses, Not Deficits
Apart from eating protein in plenty, you need a good supply of calories to build muscle. Don’t fall for the insistence on cutting calories for people looking to lose weight.
Creating muscle mass works in the exact opposite way. Instead of losing weight, you will find yourself gaining it. One of the best ways to build muscle is to increase your calorie intake, instead of reducing it.
Your body is susceptible to the number of calories you eat every day. A calorie deficit is a situation in which you are consuming fewer calories than you are burning.
When in a calorie deficit, the body reduces the rate at which it builds muscles, which is counterproductive. Your body goes into starvation mode thus making muscle build-up a lesser priority.
To see real results, you should eat an extra 250 to 500 calories a day. There ought to be a balance between the amount of protein, fats, and carbohydrates you eat.
It is recommended that you eat between 12 and 15 percent protein, 25 to 30 percent fats, and 55 to 60 percent carbohydrates in your daily caloric intake.
You may want to increase your protein intake. In a 2014 study, it was shown that about 45 percent of the calories eaten in a protein-rich is stored up as muscle.
That’s compared to 95 percent of the calories consumed in a low-protein diet, which were stored in the body as fat.
7. Eat Some Casein Way before Going to Bed
There is a reason bodybuilders prefer casein protein as part of their diet. When eaten just before going to bed, casein protein is absorbed into the bloodstream slowly.
Thus, it gradually but steadily supplies the muscles with amino acids unlike other protein types such as plant and whey protein. If anything, eating casein protein just before going to bed can give a boost to your amino acids circulation you 7 ½ hours or more.
You can be sure of your muscles being steadily built, even as you sleep.
The best sources of casein protein include milk, Greek yogurt, and cottage cheese. You may also make a smoothie using casein protein powder.
8. Sleep Enough
It takes more than the right nutrition for your muscles to recover and gain strength. One of the best ways to build muscle is to sleep for at least eight hours per night. That’s to allow for optimal muscle recovery.
As you rest, your body releases growth hormones to help repair and grow your muscles. The levels of the stress hormone cortisol are significantly reduced thus removing soreness due to inflammation in the tissues.
Whenever you can, go to bed at least 30 minutes earlier. That will give you more sleeping time and allow better recovery for your muscles.
In one study, it was shown that sleeping for only five hours and not the recommended eight per night for a week could reduce the levels of testosterone (a muscle-building hormone) by between 10 and 15 percent.
Adults between the ages of 18 and 64 should sleep between 7 and 9 hours every night.
9. Work the Biggest Muscles
Beginners don’t have to worry about the intensity of the workouts in which they get involved. Even a less-intense routine can result in increased protein synthesis.
For those who have been at it for a while, building greater muscle mass is about focussing on the large groups of muscles in the legs, back, and chest. For that, you need compound lifts such as military presses, dips, bench presses, bench-over rows, pull-ups, deadlifts, and squats.
A combination of all these routines is guaranteed to give you bigger and better muscles in no time.
Focusing on the most prominent muscle groups helps to spur muscle hypertrophy, a process that works at the cellular level to increase muscle growth.
According to research findings, you will be able to initiate muscle hypertrophy by doing between 6 and 12 repetitions in 2 to 3 sets of every exercise.
You, however, need to rest for between 30 and 60 seconds between the sets of exercise. The practice damages the muscles for them to be built and made more significant by the protein you eat in your food.
One of the best ways to build muscle is by reducing the cardio exercises you do in a day. If you have been running every day, cut back on it to ensure you gain muscle.
You may want to do cardio exercises on days when you are resting from strength training.
10. Drink Protein and Carbohydrate Shake
Just before and during the workout, you need to drink a shake composed of carbohydrates and amino acids. This helps to increase the levels of protein synthesis, compared to those who drink the shake after the workout.
Here is how it works. Exercise increases the flow of blood in your body to the tissues. Thus drinking the carbohydrate-protein shake just before the workout leads to increased amino acid uptake in the muscles.
The protein content in the shake should be only about 20 grams or a scoop of whey protein powder.
While you may want to take a deli turkey sandwich in place of the shake, liquids get absorbed faster and are recommended.
In addition to the 20 grams of protein, you will need 35 grams of carbohydrates. You will need the energy as much as the amino acids to have a successful workout.
11. Work out Every Other Day
One of the best ways to build muscle is to alternate between a full-body workout and a day of rest.
After a challenging exercise, the protein synthesis is heightened for a maximum of 48 hours. It is during the period of rest that your muscles get to experience the most significant growth levels.
The alternative to a full-body workout is to work each muscle group between 2 and three times every week. Switch from working out one muscle group to the next, until you go through all of them.
If you are into a 4-day workout program, try a lower/upper body split. In this kind of program, you will be able to exercise each of the muscle groups at least twice every night.
You can start with five sets of each exercise and increase the intensity as you go along. Even as you start gaining more muscles, you should moderate the volume to avoid suffering from overtraining.
12. Take an HMB Supplement
HMB or beta-hydroxy-beta-methyl butyrate is a compound that’s naturally produced in the body to prevent the breakdown of protein in the muscles. It also speeds up exercise recovery and encourages growth in your muscles.
The sad part is that increasing HMB levels in the body exclusively through diet is almost inadequate. One of the best ways to build muscle is to supplement your HMB needs.
Taking HMB together with strength training has been shown to help improve muscle size, strength, and recovery. It works much better than exercising exclusively.
When you start pushing yourself too hard, HMB will help to prevent muscle loss and other effects of overtraining. While HMB can be taken on its own, it may also be combined into a protein shake.
These are 12 of the best ways to build muscle. If you have noticed, all of them require dedication and self-discipline to pull through.
To succeed in strengthening your muscles, all you need to do is start. With time and a lot of work, you will be able to achieve the muscle mass you have been dreaming of. While the best time to start is now, you have to stick in there to enjoy long-term success.