How to Build More Muscle Mass

How to Build More Muscle Mass

A fitness program can have many benefits for your body, your and your emotional wellbeing.
Building muscle may be a side benefit on the way to pursuing another goal – such as losing weight, increasing aerobic fitness or building fitness – or it may be your main focus. If it is the latter, it can be confusing to navigate the confusing landscape of conflicting advice, fads and myths when it comes to the best way to build muscle.

Luckily, there are some universal truths when it comes to weight gain, which we will cover as we look at the best, undisputable ways to build muscle mass.

Eat Enough

The three basic tenants of muscle gain:

1) Consume a surplus of calories
2) Lift weights
3) Rest your muscles

We will cover #2 and #3 later in this article, but let’s start with the first point. Note that this is not just about eating enough to meet your needs, but rather eating an excess of calories. This is because you are looking to build extra muscle through intense training, so you must provide your body with the extra fuel it needs to for this additional training and muscle growth.

Muscle growth is the result of your body storing extra protein, in a process which is called proteinsynthesis. However, your body needs protein for a range of functions, such as building and repairing tissue and making hormones, so it is constantly tapping in to its protein reserves. This means you need to supply it with enough protein to replenish its reserves as well as build more muscle, along with carbohydrates for energy to fuel this process.

It can be difficult to get used to, especially if you are accustomed to tracking your diet for weight loss, but when building muscle you need to consume more calories than you burn each day.

Eat the Right Foods

As muscles are built through a process of protein synthesis, it is obvious that you need to consume protein in order to build muscle. However, how much protein exactly should we be trying to eat? According to the Journal of Applied Physiology, in order to build muscle mass, we should consume around 1 gram of protein per pound of body weight (or 2.2g per kilo of body weight) per day, which is the maximum that our bodies can absorb. This means that a man weighing 72kg should eat 160g of protein every day.

To give you an idea:

  • An 80g portion of steak contains 29g of protein
  • A lean chicken breast weighing 110g will give you 25g of protein
  • 100g of cottage cheese contains approximately 11g of protein
  • One egg has around 6g of protein

If you are struggling to consume this much protein through your regular diet, supplements can help. See a list of the here.

Keep in mind also that the body cannot absorb limitless amounts of protein. The maximum our bodies can absorb in one meal is 30 to 40g of protein, so be sure to spread your protein intake across the day. Otherwise, the excess protein will simply be converted to fat stores. For this reason, it’s a good idea to eat a combo of carbohydrates and protein 30 minutes before you go to bed. Although this may go against every healthy eating rule you’ve heard, this will aid protein synthesis while you sleep.

Along with protein, it is important to consume enough energy (calories) to fuel this and other processes in your body. If you do not, your body with tap into the protein you are consuming and use it for energy. The best source of energy is carbohydrates, which are excellent fuel for the processes of muscle growth as well as brain functions. Eat plenty of complex, low-GI carbs such as vegetables, oats and quinoa.

Have a Regular Training Program

This part is probably obvious to most: in order to build muscle, you need to lift weights. Lifting weights puts your muscles through intense exertion, and this strain causes damage to muscle fibres. The body then repairs the damage muscle fibres through protein synthesis, where it fuses muscle fibres together to form new muscle protein strands. These strands are called myofibrils.

This doesn’t mean lifting as much as you can as often as you can, however. Studies show that intense exercise drives the process of protein synthesis for up to 48 hours afterwards.Follow a dedicated training program to make sure you stick to lifting sessions: this will be different for everyone, but 2 to 3 gym sessions per week with off day trigger sessions are generally recommended.

Take Rest Days

As important as lifting is to build muscle mass, resting your muscles is equally important. It is critical that you give your muscles a rest day in between each training day. This is because growth occurs when muscles are resting, not when you are working out. Therefore if you keep lifting and never give your muscles a chance to rest, peak muscle growth is virtually impossible!

Promote “active rest ” through using a foam roller and having best muscle rubs to relieve soreness, aid recovery. This will not only aid muscle growth but it will help you to stick to your training schedule over time.

Sleep and relaxation are also an important factor in muscle growth. Cortisol and other hormones which are released in times of stress have a negative impact on the processes on muscle building. Cortisol can also be the result of working too many hours, skipping meals, lack of sleep and general instability. Make sure you get a minimum of 7-8 hours of sleep each night and have a stable routine which promotes your physical and mental wellbeing.

If you want to effectively build muscle mass, you need to follow the basic principles of muscle building. Although there are important details and nuances which will help to build muscle mass, in general these principles can be summarised as: eat an excess of calories in protein and carbohydrates, lift weights, and rest in between.