- Bulking to Build Muscle: What You Need to Know
- Fast Food Doesn’t Mean Dirty Dining
- Have Some ‘Strategic Overfeeds’
- Keep Doing High-Intensity Exercise
- Squat Every Day
- Take it Easy
- Go Beyond Pasta
- Eat the Rainbow
- Watch Your Blood Sugar Levels
- Get Help From Supps
- Is bulking and cutting the ultimate way to build muscle?
- Bulking: What It Is and How to Do It
- Foods to eat
- Foods to limit
- What is Bulking?
- We Have Some Tips on How to Build Muscle and Bulk Up
- 1. Count your calories
- 2. Power up with protein
- 3. Don’t nix carbohydrates
- 4. Weigh the benefits of cardio
- 5. Tailor your workouts for muscle mass
Bulking to Build Muscle: What You Need to Know
“The principle of bulking is to achieve a calorie surplus, where you consume more than you burn off, and converting it to muscle with smart training,” says doctor and bodybuilder Emil Hodzovic. If you’re a “hardgainer” – someone with a rapid metabolism who struggles to gain weight – that can mean chowing down a tonne of food.
First, identify how many calories you need by working out your basal metabolic rate using an online BMR calculator, then slightly exceed your calorie target the clean way, eating whole food sources steak, eggs and milk.
Here nutritionist Matt Lovell describes the daily macronutrient totals for both hardgainers and those who have no such problems.
|Protein per kg of bodyweight||3g||2g|
|Carbs per kg of bodyweight||5g||2g|
|Fat per kg of bodyweight||1g||1g|
So for a 75kg hardgainer, the amount of protein is calculated as 3 x 75 = 225g.
RECOMMENDED: Sam Warburton Diet and Workout to Build Bulk
Fast Food Doesn’t Mean Dirty Dining
Have you ever tried eating 6,000 calories’ worth of chicken breast and broccoli in a day? Hodzovic has, and he doesn’t recommend it. That’s when loading up on convenient high-calorie fast food can seem an appealing solution.
“But feasting solely on nutritionally weak junk food can cause you to lurch way beyond your calorie requirements and get fat, risking a host of illnesses from diabetes to heart disease,” Hodzovic says. It’s important not to compromise on quality.
Go for grass-fed beef, free-range chicken and eggs and chemical-free nut butters – and there are even good-quality pot noodles called Quick Sports Meals from Sport Kitchen for a fast but clean hit.
Have Some ‘Strategic Overfeeds’
It’s the new way to do cheat meals. Lovell, who advises the Football Association and works with Tottenham Hotspur and Manchester City, prescribes these to youth footballers to help them get big enough to survive the intensity of the Premier League. The rule: eat clean 80% of the time and afford yourself an “anything goes” policy for the remaining 20%.
For example, most of your breakfasts should look the “clean” omelette drizzled with omega 3-rich extra virgin olive oil and packed with veg, turkey and chorizo on the left, below, but one in five times you can cut loose with a plate of these “dirty” bacon and blueberry pancakes – but fry everything in coconut oil for bonus healthy fats, and don’t skimp on quality.
Keep Doing High-Intensity Exercise
“If your calorie intake is high, your training intensity has to be higher,” says Hodzovic – otherwise bulk will turn to bulge. Lifting heavy with big multi-joint compound moves will create the stimulus for muscle synthesis, while occasional high-intensity intervals on the rower or bike will keep your body fat low.
The hardgainer who incinerates calories even when resting should replace calories lost during a session with a carb and protein shake before and after a workout. Wear an activity tracker that monitors your heart rate to identify how many calories you burn in a session.
RECOMMENDED: Protein Shake Recipes
Squat Every Day
Or at least every workout. “Squats are an epic exercise and they build a hell of a lot more than just your legs, including a mental toughness that you just won’t get doing endless biceps curls,” says Hodzovic. There is a time and place for a bodybuilding muscle-group split but, to take advantage of the calorie surplus of a bulk, full-body workouts are key.
Take it Easy
Working out a plan of endless drop sets, negatives and supersets will probably take longer to do than the workouts themselves, and it’s not time well spent. Instead stick to Hodzovic’s tried-and-tested solution, “controlled movement with slow tempos and rest-pause sets”.
Try this tempo rest-pause set with biceps curls: lift your ten-rep max at a tempo of two seconds up, four seconds down until failure. Rest for 15 seconds.
Lift again for two seconds up, two seconds down to failure. Rest 15 seconds once more, then do a final set of as many reps as you can muster at a faster tempo. Then shake off the agonising lactate.
And never forget – you grow while you rest.
RECOMMENDED: Try the Bulking Workout Plan Henry Cavill Used for Batman v Superman
Go Beyond Pasta
If you’re training hard, you’ll need a hefty dose of carbs with your protein and healthy fats to speed up muscle recovery. A University of Connecticut study identified 470ml of chocolate milk, which provides all three, as the best post-workout antidote.
But the rest of the time you shouldn’t just stick to bread and pasta. “Shake up your carb sources constantly,” says Lovell.
“Cycle between wholewheat, rice (especially basmati, wild and Thai black rice), oats, barley and quinoa for a huge variety of nutrients to help you grow healthy as well as big.”
Eat the Rainbow
As with carbs, you should keep your sources of fruit and vegetables varied. “Eat green leafy veg, bright tropical fruit, dark berries, the full spectrum,” Lovell says. It’ll provide all the micronutrients you need.
Bulk up your meals with pulses and legumes so you don’t have to buy so much expensive meat. “Don’t compromise on this,” says Lovell. “All-cause mortality drops by 5% for every daily portion of fruit and veg you eat.
” That’s a decent trade-off.
Watch Your Blood Sugar Levels
Your body is a control freak – in a good way. It’s excellent at controlling your blood sugar with hormones such as insulin.
“But scoffing sugary foods on a ‘dirty bulk’ causes blood sugar spikes, which carries risks for type 2 diabetes,” says Hodzovic.
One jam doughnut won’t tip you over the edge, but a few might leave you feeling sluggish when your blood sugar drops after spiking. Regular exercise can offset some of the risks, so save the cakes for big training days.
Get Help From Supps
Matt Lovell reveals the essentials
Fish oil: To fire on all cylinders for maximum growth, your cells need essential fatty acids from pharmaceutical-grade fish oils. Get yours with added vitamin E.
CLA: Fats conjugated linoleic acid help your body manage the glucose you’re taking on from carbs so that it goes to your muscles and isn’t stored as fat.
ZMA: If you’re taking care of the eating and training parts of the growth triumvirate, this combo of zinc and magnesium aspartate will aid your demand for the third – sleep.
Probiotics: For immunity support and gut function to tolerate the high demands on your CNS and digestive system from heavy-duty eating and lifting.
Digestive enzymes: You can’t afford a slow digestive grind. Look for the word “proteolytic” on the label for supps that aid protein breakdown for max muscle.
R-ALA/blueberry extract: CLA, this insulin sensitiser helps shuttle sugar into muscles and less into fat stores.
RECOMMENDED: The Best Supplements for Getting in Shape
Is bulking and cutting the ultimate way to build muscle?
If you’ve read a fitness blog or magazine, or even peeked at the Insta #fitness scene recently, you’ve probably heard of bulking and cutting. But if you’re new to the concept of getting as big as the Hulk (well, almost) and then slimming back down Bruce Banner-style in order to tone up, it's not surprising as it was created by and for bodybuilders in preparation for competitions.
There is no standardised definition of bulking and cutting. Bulking involves eating more calories than you need, in order to put on weight, then building muscle via resistance training.
Cutting involves eating fewer calories than you burn (and probably doing more cardio) in order to lose the fat.
The theory is that you put on extra muscle and fat, but then lose the fat to look lean and shredded.
But does this work and is it a good idea? We ask the experts.
Muscles are made of protein, so eating extra protein should lead to bigger muscles, right? Sort of… but not quite.
When you exercise, you damage muscle fibres, which is a good thing. After exercise, your body repairs these fibres by fusing old and new protein strands together, making them stronger and sometimes bigger. Muscle growth occurs when the rate of protein synthesised into muscle is greater than the amount of muscle protein breakdown.
To increase muscle mass, you must “eat more calories than needed to maintain your body weight”, says personal trainer Scott Laidler. “A high proportion of your extra calories should come from foods containing protein, which will give you the necessary amino acids to build muscle mass. Without protein, you will just gain fat and little muscle”, he continues. But there is a limit.
It's not as simple as protein equals muscle. “There is a genetic limitation to how much muscle mass you can put on over a given time, no matter how much you exercise and eat protein”, says weight loss coach and personal trainer, Dr Aishah Muhammad. So if you eat too much, you'll just get fatter.
It’s not difficult to eat the amount of protein you need for muscle growth. The UK National Diet and Nutrition Survey reveals that the average amount of protein eaten by a 19-64-year-old man is 87.4g per day and woman 66.6g – much more than the NHS recommendation of 55.5g for men and 45g for women depending on body mass and physical exertion.
In 2016, BBC Three reported on a man who was hospitalised after trying to 'bulk up'. He had kidney stones, which he believed were ly to be caused by eating too much protein. He said his body couldn't process the protein and so turned it into calcified deposits in his kidneys.
The NHS links a high-protein, low-fibre diet to recurring kidney stones. The risks associated with a high-protein diet are greater for people with a pre-existing health condition, and if you have kidney or liver damage you should consult a doctor before making changes to your diet.
Back in the 1960s and '70s, when bulking first became a phenomenon, body builders relied on nutrient-dense, natural foods such as steak, milk and eggs. Nowadays, protein is available as shakes, bars and capsules, making it easy to consume vast amounts of it with additional sugar and calories without getting full.
If you want to take a protein supplement, British Dietetic Association clinical and sports dietitian Rick Miller suggests sticking to the recommended serving size and never taking more than is needed.
It’s pretty tough to lose as much fat as you want to while retaining muscle when ‘cutting’.
Years ago, scientists found that a pound of fat contains 3,500 calories of energy. However, burning one pound of body fat isn’t as simple as reducing your calories by that amount – your body loves to burn muscle too.
Scott Laidler learned this from his own journey when he first started out in fitness. He said, “When I cut I took my calories too low and in the process worked off a lot of the muscle mass that I had gained. The phases would cross over for a few weeks, where I would look and feel good, but I wanted to be lean and muscular all year round. It really wasn’t satisfying.”
Bulking and cutting can affect your athletic performance. Rugby and athletic coach, Matt Thomas, told us he never recommends a bulk or cut to his players because “across the board this has been seen to have detrimental effects on athletic output.
When a large amount of body weight is cut through drastic intervention, the effects on performance are very clear.
Aerobic endurance, maximal oxygen uptake and muscular strength generally fall after rapid body weight reduction, but can be increased with gradual weight loss.”
Personal trainers have different opinions on the best way to build muscle and look lean. Many professionals and average gym go-ers look to build muscle without the fat gain that a bulking cycle brings.
“The constant cycle of bulking and cutting might be a good way to max out your genetic potential for muscle gain or get shredded for a photoshoot, but that's the territory of body builders,” says Scott Laidler.
“For a lot of people who are looking to build muscle, a 'lean bulk' or even ‘recomposition’ training phase is the order of the day.
This means gaining muscle at a slightly slower rate but without the accompanying body fat.
“I would advise three total-body weight workouts each week, with a modest calorie surplus on training days.
For the non-training days, if you eat enough calories to break even, or even have a slight deficit, you can avoid piling on body fat. But what you eat really matters.
You also need to be eating quality, healthy fats and carbohydrate to help you perform in your workouts as well as recover.
“Using this method, you'll gradually improve your composition and eventually be in great shape pretty much year-round, which if you aren't on a competition schedule is a much more comfortable place to be,” concludes Scott. Slow and steady really does win the race.
You can work out roughly how many calories you need to eat to maintain your weight using our calculator below and adjust accordingly to your exercise schedule.
Experts recommend keeping a food diary for a couple of weeks to work out how much you already eat, as it is common to underestimate your calorie intake.
From there, you should start out eating at your maintenance calories and increase them very slowly until you begin to see around a one-percent increase in body weight per month with the right amount of weight training. Any more than this and you could risk gaining too much fat.
Bulking: What It Is and How to Do It
Written by Gavin Van De Walle, MS, RD on February 6, 2020
- Preliminary steps
- Foods to eat & avoid
- Bottom line
Bulking is a term commonly thrown around by bodybuilders.
It generally refers to a progressive increase in the number of calories consumed beyond your body’s needs in combination with intense weight training.
Whereas some people claim that bulking is unhealthy, others insist that it’s a safe and effective method for gaining muscle mass.
This article explains everything you need to know about bulking, including what it is, how to do it safely, and which foods you should eat and avoid.
Share on Pinterest
Bodybuilding is both a recreational and competitive sport that rewards muscle size and definition.
The three main phases in bodybuilding are bulking, cutting, and maintenance. Among competitive bodybuilders, preparation for their contests can be considered a fourth phase.
Bulking is the muscle-gaining phase. You’re meant to intentionally consume more calories than your body needs for a set period — often 4–6 months. These extra calories provide your body with the necessary fuel to boost muscle size and strength while weight training (1).
To varying degrees, body fat tends to accumulate during bulking due to excess calorie intake (1).
Cutting, or the fat loss phase, refers to a gradual decrease in calorie intake and increase in aerobic training to reduce excess body fat from the bulking phase, allowing for improved muscle definition (2).
During the cutting phase, bodybuilders eat fewer calories than their bodies require, which puts them at a disadvantage for building muscle. The goal of this phase is generally to maintain — not gain — muscle mass (2, 3, 4).
One review found that the average calorie intake of bodybuilders during the bulking phase was 3,800 calories per day for men and 3,200 for women, compared with 2,400 and 1,200 calories during the cutting phase, respectively (5).
Bodybuilding consists of three main phases — bulking, cutting, and maintenance. Generally, bulking is meant to increase muscle mass and strength, whereas cutting is intended to shed excess body fat while maintaining muscle mass.
Bulking requires consuming more calories than your body needs.
You can estimate your daily calorie needs by using a calorie counter, which considers your weight, sex, age, height, and physical activity level to estimate your daily calorie needs.
Experts recommend consuming 10–20% above your daily weight maintenance calorie needs during the bulking phase for an average weight gain of 0.25–0.5% of your body weight per week (1, 6, 7).
For example, if you need 3,000 daily calories per day to maintain weight, you should aim to consume 3,300–3,600 instead, depending on your experience level. For a person who weighs 150 pounds (68 kg), this equates to an increase of 0.4–0.8 pounds (0.2–0.4 kg) per week.
While novice bodybuilders who have 6 months or less of weight training experience should aim for the higher end of this calorie range, bodybuilders with several years of experience should target the lower end to limit increases in body fat (8, 9).
If you’re gaining less or more than 0.25–0.5% of your body weight per week, you should adjust your calorie intake accordingly.
Once you establish the number of calories you need for bulking, you can determine your macronutrient ratios.
Macronutrients — carbs, fats, and proteins — are the nutrients that are needed in larger quantities in your diet. Carbs and protein each contain 4 calories per gram, while fat packs 9.
Experts recommend that you get (4, 6):
- 45–60% of your calories from carbs
- 30–35% of your calories from protein
- 15–30% of your calories from fat
For example, if you decide you need to eat 3,300 calories per day, your diet would contain:
- 371–495 grams of carbs
- 248–289 grams of protein
- 55–110 grams of fat
While you can make adjustments your dietary needs, the proportion of calories from protein should remain at 30–35% to support optimal muscle growth (4, 6).
You can use calorie tracking apps to help you stay within your calorie budget and macronutrient ranges.
Experts recommend consuming 10–20% more calories during bulking than your body needs. Carbs should comprise the largest percentage of your diet, followed by protein and fat.
Many people view bulking as unhealthy because it can increase fat mass, particularly when your calorie surplus is too high.
While bulking, some bodybuilders also tend to eat calorie-dense, nutrient-poor foods that are typically not consumed during the cutting phase, including sweets, desserts, and fried foods.
These foods, especially when eaten as part of a high calorie diet, can increase markers of inflammation, promote insulin resistance, and raise levels of fat in your blood (10, 11, 12, 13).
However, proper bulking is not about extreme overeating or giving free rein to every craving.
It can be performed in a healthy manner if you maintain a proper calorie surplus and focus on eating nutrient-dense foods. These foods contain a high amount of nutrients for their calorie count.
Remember that bulking is also intended to be followed by a cutting phase to decrease your fat levels.
When bulking, it’s easy to eat high calorie, nutrient-poor foods desserts or fried foods to rapidly achieve a calorie surplus. Yet, healthy bulking is possible as long as you focus on nutrient-dense foods.
Your diet is essential to bulking the right way. Remember that just because a food is high in calories and will lead to a calorie surplus doesn’t mean that it’s great for muscle gain — or your overall health.
Foods to eat
Including nutrient-dense, whole foods in your diet ensures that you get adequate vitamins and minerals, healthy fats, and quality protein.
Here are examples of foods that should comprise the majority of your diet:
- Fruits: apples, avocado, bananas, berries, grapes, kiwi, oranges, pears, pineapple, and pomegranate
- Vegetables: asparagus, arugula, beets, broccoli, carrots, collards, cucumber, kale, mushrooms, and peppers
- Starchyvegetables: arrowroot, jicama, peas, potatoes, rutabaga, and yam
- Grains: breads, cereals, corn, oatmeal, popcorn, quinoa, and rice
- Seafood: cod, crab, lobster, salmon, scallops, shrimp, tilapia, and tuna
- Dairy: butter, cottage cheese, cheese, milk, and yogurt
- Meats, poultry, andeggs: ground beef, eye of round steak, pork tenderloin, skinless chicken, sirloin steak, turkey, and whole eggs
- Legumes: black beans, chickpeas, lentils, lima beans, and pinto beans
- Nutsandseeds: almonds, chia seeds, flaxseed, sunflower seeds, and walnuts
- Oilsand nut butters: almond and peanut butters, as well as avocado, canola, and olive oils
- Beverages without added sugar: coffee, diet soda, unsweetened tea, and water
Beverages with added sugars, such as sweetened coffee, tea, or regular soda, can be enjoyed in moderation.
Foods to limit
While a bulking diet allows for most foods, some should be limited because they contain very few nutrients. These include:
- Alcohol. Alcohol interferes with your body’s ability to build muscle, particularly when drunk in excess (14).
- Addedsugars. Added sugar, which is common in candy, desserts, and sugar-sweetened beverages, is linked to several negative health effects when eaten in excess (15).
- Friedfoods. Regularly eating fried foods may increase your risk of heart disease and type 2 diabetes. Fried foods include fried chicken, onion rings, cheese curds, and fish and chips (16, 17).
These foods don’t need to be avoided completely but should be reserved for special occasions and events.
Supplement use is highly prevalent among bodybuilders (18).
Bodybuilders take supplements for various reasons, including to boost overall health, immune function, and exercise performance (19, 2).
Still, despite the hundreds of supplements marketed toward bodybuilders, only a handful have strong evidence to support their use. Those backed by studies include (20, 21):
- Caffeine. This ubiquitous stimulant decreases sensations of pain and increases focus, allowing you to exercise longer and harder. It’s commonly added to pre-workout supplements (22).
- Creatine. Creatine provides your muscles with additional energy to work harder and lift more. Studies suggest that creatine monohydrate may be the most effective form (24).
- Protein powder. While it may not directly affect performance, animal- or plant-based protein powders offer an easy and convenient way to meet your daily protein targets.
What’s more, mass- or weight-gaining supplements tend to be popular among people looking to bulk up. They come in powder form and are mixed with water or milk.
These supplements can pack over 1,000 calories per serving and boast sugar, protein, and several vitamins and minerals.
While they’re a convenient way to increase your calories, they’re often poorly balanced, containing too high a percentage of carbs compared with protein and fats.
While occasional use is fine, most people shouldn’t make them a regular part of your routine.
When bulking, be sure to include a variety of nutrient-dense foods in your diet to support muscle growth and overall health. You should limit alcohol, added sugars, and fried foods, though certain supplements can be useful.
Bulking is a technique used by bodybuilders to increase muscle size and strength.
It involves consuming 10–20% more than your daily calorie needs in addition to weight training.
To make bulking healthy and effective, you should ensure that your calorie surplus isn’t too high and that you’re limiting highly processed, nutrient-poor foods.
What is Bulking?
To help us better understand the finer points of bulking, we have enlist the help of Maximuscle Ambassador Sean Lerwill. With years of experience within the fitness industry Sean has a wealth of knowledge and shares his views and opinions on the best way to bulk for the Ibiza Challenge.
The fitness industry has changed a great deal in the last 5-6 years. Huge credit for this goes to the use of social media to supply and spread fitness knowledge and methods.
This has lead to what were once very niche terms “cut”, “off season” or “bulking” from the bodybuilding arena becoming synonymous with your average gym goer who is looking to get in shape for the summer holiday or just for their life in general.
A few years ago, physique modelling competitions the IB or UKBFF were only run a few times a year. These days a huge number of federations and promotions have arisen, meaning competitions are running nationally and internationally almost every week.
This supply has only been able to occur due to the demand of those wanting to compete. These days you can walk into any gym and you’ll find at least one person training for a competition and in their “bulking” phase.
A few years ago, this would have been confined to a few specialist bodybuilding gyms only.
So what exactly is “bulking”? If you aren’t aware, to build muscle you need to provide your body with excess calories. Everything in life is about energy. To add weight (be that fat or muscle) to your body you must supply the body with more energy (as calories from food) than it needs.
We all need different amounts of calories. You can roughly work out your needs as they are dependent on you age, weight, height and activity; which is dependent on your job and how much you train.
As long as you ingest more calories than you need, to maintain weight or referred to as maintenance calories, you’ll be in an energy surplus needed to gain weight.
Someone who is bulking is purposely eating more calories than they need.
By providing your muscles with a strong stimulus to grow from progressive, intense training, these excess calories, especially protein, should aid to muscle hypertrophy and gains.
However, if you just eat a calorie surplus without the necessary resistance training for muscle growth the excess calories will just add body fat.
Many bodybuilders and physique competitors still speak about “bulking” on their “off season”. This is the time of year where they aren’t competing, so do not need to be lean with a six pack.
They therefore purposely eat more calories than they need and train their muscles hard with the aim of forcing the muscles to grow. For the most part they also gain a fair bit of body fat compared to when on stage.
They look far more bulky and are hence bulking.
Bulking can be done in one of two ways:
1. A clean bulk refers to adding excess calories (for the reasons explained above), but doing so with largely healthy foods. The types of foods eaten when clean bulking aren’t that dissimilar to foods eaten when cutting or trying to maintain and stay lean.
Treat meals (the addition of a meal or two a week with more unhealthy foods) will still be used in many cases, but 90% of meals will be nutrient and calorie while meeting the calorie surplus requirements for bulking.
A clean bulk usually leads to a leaner bulk and is certainly more healthy, to the body and mind, long term.
2.A dirty bulk refers to adding excess calories as described above but with any and all foods. Often it is seen as an excuse to eat all the foods avoided during a cut or when staying lean. Therefore cakes, chocolates, ice cream and alcohol among others are often overdone. Foods that are calorie dense but are often low in nutrients.
This could have health implications and not something that is typically advocated.. The psychology of eating such foods after cutting them out for so long can also be detrimental when bulking this and it has been linked with eating disorders.
Especially as the subsequent cut can often be far harder as a dirty bulk usually leads to a less lean end point as well as a change of palate that must then be changed again!
There may be different methods, but the bottom line is that bulking is a term used to describe a state of training and eating with the aim of increasing muscle mass.
Bulking relies upon eating more calories than the body needs for a set amount of time before dieting/cutting calories to then lose any excess body fat gained, while maintaining the muscle.
It’s history may be in the bodybuilding arena, but thanks to the wide availability and prevalence of physique competitions it has filtered into even the most mainstream highstreet gym or swanky health club.
For a basic guide on how to work out your bulk check out this bulking calories article.
BACK TO THE BULKING ZONE
We Have Some Tips on How to Build Muscle and Bulk Up
As every gym-goer knows, gaining weight can be a good thing as long as the added pounds are in the form of bigger muscles and not a bigger belly.
Whether you’re skinny and trying to pack on muscle or not-so-skinny and working to convert your body mass into muscle, bulking up isn’t as easy as it sounds.
The trick is to feed your muscles and body by adding clean calories and nutrients so it can add muscle, not fat. Here’s what you should do to bulk up.
1. Count your calories
You need calories to bulk up. | iStock.com
For muscles to grow, they’ll need to be fed. According to experts at Columbia University, this means eating an additional 2,270 to 3,630 calories a week to build as much as 1 pound of muscle during that period of time.
When broken down into daily needs this equals about 500 additional calories a day. Then you’ll need to calculate your daily activity.
If you’re hitting the gym regularly for an intense weight lifting session, you could be burning up to 500 calories an hour, shifting your caloric intake goal to be around 1,000 additional calories a day.
2. Power up with protein
Protein powder will become your best friend. | Source: iStock
Protein will become your best friend as you begin on this quest to build muscle. You’ll want to eat enough, but not too much as too many extra calories (even from protein) will only add fat. An average desk-bound male needs 0.
36 grams of protein per pound of body weight, but if you’re hitting the gym regularly to build muscle you’ll want to shoot for 0.7 to 0.8 grams of protein per pound of body weight.
You can get your fill of protein from protein supplements, shakes, bars, and most importantly, natural high-protein foods meat, eggs, peanut butter, and nuts.
3. Don’t nix carbohydrates
Yes, carbohydrates are important to build muscle. | iStock.com
Most people focus on the importance of protein when trying to build mass, but carbs play an important role in building lean muscle. When you exercise your body converts stored carbohydrates into ATP molecules that are used for energy.
If you skimp on the carbs you will have lower energy leading your workouts to suffer. Livestrong.com recommends eating a simple carbohydrate one to two hours after your workout. The carbs will drive nutrients into your bloodstream to feed your muscles while stimulating the release of insulin.
This helps your muscles start the post-workout repair process.
4. Weigh the benefits of cardio
Cardio is needed, but not as important as lifting to build muscle. | iStock.com
If you’re a skinny guy looking to build muscle and mass, you’ll want to leave cardio your weekly routine. Adding cardio to weight training can decrease your strength gains and muscle growth while burning more of your body’s precious calories.
If you’re a bigger guy who is looking to slim down and build muscle, incorporating cardio into your strength training workouts may result in greater fat loss. When it comes to the relationship between cardio and weight lifting, not all cardio activities are equal. According to Bodybuilding.
com, you should opt for cycling over running, as hopping on the bike is less detrimental to the impact of your resistance training.
5. Tailor your workouts for muscle mass
Building muscle takes real work. | iStock.com
To see results, you’ll want to lower the number of reps and increase weight. Men’s Fitness recommends doing between six and 12 reps with a lower number of total sets. Use heavier weights and slow, controlled movements to complete each rep.
Each set should last between 40 and 70 seconds to ensure you’re tensing your muscles long enough to stimulate growth. For the fastest, best results, set up your training schedule to either train the entire body in a single workout or concentrate on the upper body one day and the lower body the next.
Don’t try to isolate one muscle group in a single session.