As much as we want to see maximum gains after every session, building muscle is a balancing act. Your body can only grow a certain amount of it per week. If you eat more calories than necessary, the remaining mass will turn into excess fat. You also need to give yourself sufficient time to recover – without staying away from the gym for too long.
This will all take some trial and error to master. Your diet, metabolism, and exercise habits each influence your individual ability to build and maintain muscle. What works for one person might not bring the same results to another. The good news is that it doesn’t have to be rocket science.
Whether you’re a beginner or you’ve found yourself facing a training plateau, there are several strategies you can rely on to build muscle efficiently and effectively. Let’s get started.
Aim to start each day with a meal that’s high in protein and macronutrients. This way, you’ll immediately have a steady source of energy to sustain you through the morning hours. By putting your best foot forward, you also set a positive trend for the rest of the day. Here are a few breakfast ideas that are perfect for bulking:
- Chicken omelet
- Eggs and avocado toast
- Greek yogurt with fruit and nuts
- Banana and peanut butter smoothie
In the context of exercise, intensity refers to how much weight you lift, and volume refers to the number of sets and reps you perform. For building muscle, your training should be characterized by medium intensity and high volume. An example would be 10 to 15 repetitions with one-minute breaks (or less) between sets.
The reason for this is lactic acid, which is what causes the burning sensation you feel during exercise. It’s also known to promote muscle growth by increasing hormone production.
While diet is undoubtedly important, many people find it difficult to cram in tons of healthy carbs throughout the day without missing out on any essential nutrients. Supplements can help fill the gap and provide additional benefits that aid in exercise performance and recovery.
Turkesterone, for example, is a plant-based supplement that improves body composition, muscular endurance, and lean muscle tissue. It has also shown to positively affect anxiety and sleep as noted on this site. Some other popular workout supplements you can try include creatine, beta-alanine and branched-chain amino acids.
The necessity of protein as part of your diet when building muscle goes without saying. What beginners often miss are fruits and vegetables. Almost all of them are low in calories, which means you can eat large amounts without worrying about gaining fat. Instead, you get a range of powerful antioxidants, minerals, vitamins, and fiber.
Keep in mind that some fruits in particular are high in sugar, so always check the nutritional facts before stocking up.
Your muscle-building endeavors will be to no avail if you’re always dehydrated. Intense exercise causes significant water loss through perspiration, and you don’t need to lose much before impairing your performance and ability to recover. Remember to drink enough water before, during and after exercise to ensure you get the most out of each session.
The vast majority of your dietary intake should comprise whole foods. These are unprocessed and unrefined products that are as close to their natural state as possible. Examples include meat, fish, eggs, oats, and brown rice. Avoiding processed foods such as cereal, fruit bars and pizza is also vital for overall health.