How To Build Muscle The Right Way
You want your body to readily burn fat and be more efficient at burning energy for fuel. You want to prevent injury and strengthen your bones and tendons to minimize sprains and breaks. You want to look lean and improve your cardiovascular function. Well, if all this is true, then it’s time to get on the muscle-building train! Now that you’ve got the goal and the desire, we’re going to show you how to build muscle the right way.
Proper nutrition is a critical factor in building muscle. It would be best to consume high protein meals and a calorie surplus to pack on the muscle mass. This may require a little bit of research on your part, and start looking at food labels to see how much protein you’re eating. A good guideline is about 1g of protein per pound of bodyweight.
A good goal is to eat regularly, about 4-6 small meals per day so that you have the active metabolism to burn fat, the calories to build muscle and the fuel to sustain you through challenging workouts.
Have a protein shake with carbs about an hour before your workout. You can also sip this during your workout and prepare a fresh shake for after. A protein drink with carbs is the best way to support your body after training because it’s easy to digest, giving you fuel that’s needed right away.
Consuming an adequate amount of protein is going to require a bit of meal planning. Here are some suggestions to get you started:
- Lentil and Farro Grain Bowl with Pesto. Have the grains and pesto prepared in the fridge ahead of time so you can quickly mix it up for a tasty snack. It’s also easy to take on the go and eat at room temp.
- Miso Ginger Tempeh. Cut the tempeh into strips, toss with miso, tamari and some diced ginger. Bake on a sheet pan in the oven. Add some green beans, broccoli florets and root veggies to the tray, and you’ve got a complete meal! Feel free to swap out any type of protein here too.
- The Classic Cobb. Your favourite salad made with avocado, chicken, and eggs. It’s so hearty you’ll be full for hours. Cook up a few extra hard-boiled eggs while you’re at it for a quick and easy mid-day snack.
- Turkey Meatballs with Tahini and Hummus. Serve with rice, diced tomatoes, cucumbers and black olives.
- Grilled Chicken with Peach Salsa. BBQ the chicken and top with a mix of diced tomatoes, peach, red onion and cilantro. Add lime juice for extra zip.
- Honey Lemon Salmon. Brush salmon fillets with a mix of honey, lemon juice, salt and fresh dill. Bake in the oven and then pair with your favourite roasted veggies for a satisfying meal.
- Chicken Avocado Black Bean Salad. You can prepare this at the start of the week and have as an easy go-to snack. You’ve got double the protein with the mix of chicken and black beans. If you need something to go with it, pack it into a tortilla shell for a travel-friendly meal.
- Fish Tacos. Top with shredded red cabbage, salsa and your favourite greens. The more colourful the toppings, the better.
- Skillet Egg Frittata. This is an easy breakfast or meal any time of the day. Mix the eggs with any veggies you have in the fridge, add herbs for more flavour and feta cheese for extra protein.
- Tuna Salad Nori Wraps. Mash a can of white tuna with lemon juice, avocado and put into a nori wrap with a handful of sprouts for extra protein. Dip it in Sriracha or hummus. Mmm, are you drooling yet?
With muscle-building workouts, it’s all about the volume of weight you’re lifting. You should be lifting more weight at lower reps, about 6-12 reps per set, with a 60-90 second rest in between sets. Each set should last between 40-70 seconds, short enough that you’re getting tired because you’re maximizing muscle growth and long enough that you’re sufficiently tensing the muscles for growth. Ensure you’re employing proper breathing techniques to help you lift more.
The most efficient way to build muscle is with full-body workouts. Concentrate on exercises that require the use of lots of muscle groups at once, such as squats, deadlifts, presses, rows, and pullups. You can also split your workouts, having one day for upper body and one day for lower body.
You’re going to need pretty strong grip strength to handle the volume of weight you’ll be lifting. If you’re new to weight lifting, you might want to start with a kettlebell workout, which helps build grip strength.
If you’re going to add in cardio, instead of continuously running at the same speed for an extended period of time, do sprint intervals, which are better for burning fat. Go all out for 1-minute, then a light jog for 2-minutes, and repeat for a total of 30-minutes.
Pro-Tip: Muscle Hypertrophy
When you lift heavy weights, your muscles have to generate enough force to overcome the resistance provided by the weight. This causes damage to the muscle fibres, which stimulates a repair response, resulting in increased muscle size. By working out at a level that fatigues the muscle, you also contribute to muscle gain. Notice we said muscle fatigue, not failure. You still want to complete a full repetition.
If you want to get deeper into the science behind muscle building, check out the term muscle hypertrophy. Hypertrophy is the growth and increase of muscle cells achieved through exercise, and the most common way to increase it is through weight lifting.
If you’re going to be lifting heavy weights about 3 times a week, the days off in between are your recovery days. These are just as important as lift days; rest is essential for muscle growth.
On rest days, focus on mobility, stretching, foam rolling and massage. The recovery time will help you be ready to go on your next lift day while minimizing injury. Never underestimate the power of a good foam rolling session on the quads to help with sore knees, so you’re ready to attack those squats.
Also, try to avoid excess stress and get a good night’s sleep so that your body can build muscle during this time of rest and repair.
Why do you want to build muscle? Is it coming from a place of lack, thinking you’re not attractive enough? Focus on having a goal that builds you up mentally as well as physically. Use your workouts as a reward in achieving the type of lifestyle you want, not as a way to punish yourself for how you currently look.
Give yourself sufficient time to see the results of your workouts. You will begin to see noticeable definition within 90 days, with more gains coming in the next 2-3 months. After 6 months, gains typically happen a bit more slowly.
Have realistic goals. Look at your frame. Are you broad-shouldered or more narrow? How much fat do you have? Do you have any underlying health conditions that are preventing them from working out the way you want? Be sure to address any health concerns with a medical professional.
Achieving increased muscle mass is totally possible if you’re diligent about eating correctly, working out and resting. Build smart habits from the beginning, and you’ll be achieving your goals sooner rather than later.
Don’t feel like you are building muscle even though you’re hitting up the gym? Visit us in store, have a chat with one of our experts, and learn about our favourite supplements! We can also be reached on Facebook and Instagram. Now it’s your turn to tell us, how do you keep your exercise routine going? Be sure to tag us! We are #ReflexNation.