One thing I get asked quite a lot is how to build muscle.
If you are new to the fitness space, you may think that simply lifting weights and following a program is the way to go to building lean muscle mass.
Well you are slightly on the right track, but there are a few other key factors that need to come into play to achieve this result.
Factor 1 – You need to be eating more food then your daily energy expenditure.
What I mean by this is you have to calculate your daily sedentary energy expenditure and then also add on top the energy/calories you burn with the exercise you do daily.
Once you add this up you then need to be eating more than you are burning daily.
You can find some amazing apps to find this out but I have found this great one for you right now – https://www.health-calc.com/diet/energy-expenditure-advanced
It factors in your sleep, your exercise level and times etc.
As most of you know, I don’t count calories and don’t encourage it as it can lead to unhealthy relationships with food.
The only time I have said that there is a time and place for this is when you are competing in fitness shows or like this, adding on size and muscle.
It does not have to be the whole time you are going through a “bulk” phase as they call it, but to get a rough idea of how much food you need to be consuming daily to be eating in a surplus.
Just note when eating in a surplus. If putting on muscle mass is your goal, then you are going to have to trust the process.
Factor 2 - Eating the right type of foods.
You are going to lose those abs and you may feel a little fluffier and bloated for a little bit with the increased food intake, but this is all part of the muscle building process.
You certainly can still increase your muscle mass and still stay relatively lean.
This isn’t a time to go and eat crappy unhealthy foods as this will decreasing your overall health and we don’t want to be taking 10 steps back.
This is the time however to eat mostly nutrient-dense whole foods.
Think nuts, steak, potatoes, nut butters, avocado, quinoa, bananas, oats, whole wheat bread, Greek Yoghurt, coconut milk, salmon, a range of rice, beans etc
You can definitely do a clean bulk and you wont have to work as hard as if you were to eat cheeseburgers all day long, you get my drift?
Factor 3 – Your training style.
You need to be training heavy weights in the rep range of 6-12. This is the hypertrophy range (building muscle).
Hypertrophy is the process of increasing the number of cells within the muscle tissue; thereby increasing it’s overall size.
If you train with higher reps you are going to surpass the muscle building stage and head towards endurance, which right now your goal is to build muscle.
The amount of training you want to be doing is a minimum of 3 sessions per week. No body built Rome in a day just like you wont build muscle in one session, so you need to be consistent with your training.
Factor 4 – Getting enough shut eye aka sleep.
Many people overlook the importance of sleep. Sleep plays such a large role in your recovery both physically and physiologically.
If you don’t get a good nights rest you could really mess up your hormones and cravings start to kick in and you don’t want to be consuming unhealthy foods.
The more rest you get the better you can focus on your training and overall health and fitness goals.
Factor 5 – Don’t overdo cardio.
If you want to build muscle and still stay relatively lean, too much cardio could put a stop to your muscle building goals.
When you start to do the long duration cardio sessions, you can start dipping in to your muscle stores for energy, this is also known as the catabolic affect.
If you still want to add cardio to your workout routine add 2 to 3 at the max high intensity sessions.
No more than 10 minutes for each session, so give it your full maximum in that short effective session.
HIIT training can also help with building lean muscle, think sprints. Look at a sprinter and a marathon runner, both 2 completely different body compositions.
The sprinter will always have stronger lean muscle mass, especially in the legs then the marathon runner.
Factor 6 – Ditch Those Scales.
When your goal is to put on lean muscle mass don’t be jumping on the scales every few days hoping to see change.
The scales are not the best way to track your progress, especially when it comes to body fat and muscle mass results.
They cannot measure your water weight, your body fat or your muscle mass.
You will however start to feel it with your clothes and how they fit and also in the mirror. This is a good thing because you know all your hard work is paying off.
Factor 7 – Being Patient.
You need to trust the process. Like I mentioned earlier, Rome was not built in a day and neither will your new body.
Body re-composition takes time, at least 12 weeks until you start to see those gains. Enjoy the journey and embrace the changes as each day goes by.
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