HOW TO BUILD MUSCLE
When people first start weight training in the gym with the intention of building muscle they usually do so with some success, at least to begin with. This is known as the ‘newbie gains’ phase where you’ll build some decent amount of muscle and strength, providing that your training correctly whilst getting enough calories and sleep.
The gains you get during this phase will continue coming if you stay consistent, and for some people, it can be a couple of years before things start to slow down. This is why I love it when clients come to see me who have never trained before, because I know I can give them a huge head start.
Although muscle building does require a lot of hard work and dedication, the things you need to do to achieve it are actually very simple. I will go over the 3 things I see as essential when trying to build muscle to give you a general idea of how to go about it.
Of course, you need to be training to build muscle, but there are more efficient ways to go about it to speed up your results. You should be aiming to increase your workout volume on a regular basis. This means having some kind of overload to challenge your muscles more than before. There are various ways to go about this, you could add weight to the bar, add in reps and sets, decrease your rest periods or increase your time under tension. Just make sure you log down exactly what you do each time you workout so you know how to build upon it.
You also need to look at how often you’re training each muscle group. For example, let’s say you train your chest on a Monday, from this you will stimulate muscle protein synthesis (MPS) for up to 72 hours. This means for the next 48-72 hours your chest muscles will be repairing, ready to come back bigger and stronger than before. After 48-72 hours all adaptations stop, so if you’re only training chest on a Monday you’ll be missing out on 4 days of muscle growth. This is why training frequency is important and should take precedence over increasing workout volume when trying to build new muscle.
Building muscle will also require you to eat right based on your starting point. For example, if you’re already very lean and want to start adding muscle to your frame you will need to make sure you’re in a calorie surplus. This means you will need to make sure you’re eating more calories than what it takes to maintain your current weight. This can be determined by constantly tracking your caloric intake and weighing yourself. Once you have worked out your maintenance calories aim to consume 500 calories above this each day and you’ll gain roughly a pound a week.
Within your total calories, you need to make sure you’re getting enough protein. You should aim to get at least 1 gram of protein for each pound you weigh. Some of the weight you gain will be fat rather than muscle, but if done correctly a sufficient amount will be muscle mass.
If you are trying to lose weight, try cutting 500 calories from your diet each day. This will cause you to lose roughly a pound a week. And if you have just started working out, you can likely lose weight while gaining muscle and increasing your strength!
There are other things you can include to increase your performance and recovery. If you would like some personalised guidance on your muscle building journey I am here to help!