How to Gain Muscle Mass the Right Way
If you’re so skinny that runway models think you’re too thin, or too weak that normal lifting chores are impossible, then you really should put more time and effort into finding out how to gain muscle mass. Muscles don’t just make you look attractive and impressive. Muscles also make you stronger for your daily activities.
Of course, that just begs that question: what’s the best way to build muscle? Each nutritionist and fitness instructor may have their own ideas on the subject. However, many experts do agree on that you need the right diet, supplements, and weightlifting regiment to attain the muscle growth you want.
What Should You Eat
Training doesn’t matter all that much when you neglect the nutrition aspect of gaining muscle mass. So food should be your first priority. You have to at least eat three full meals a day and you need to increase your calorie intake by about 500 a day. You also need lots of protein, which should be about a gram of protein for every pound you weigh.
But let’s talk about specifics. Exactly what should you eat? Here are some tips to help you out:
- Lean beef. Of all the things you can eat, lean beef offers the most ideal meal if you are aiming to put on some muscles. Lean beef provides with high quality protein, as not all protein are equal in quality. Soy protein, for example, isn’t exactly very popular for muscle builders, although vegetarians like it as an alternate source of natural protein.
Lean beef also gives you numerous essential nutrients, which include B vitamins, zinc, and iron. What’s more, lean beef doesn’t contain a lot of calories. A 3-ounce serving only provides about 154 calories, but you get the same amount of protein as from a cup and a half of beans which comes with almost double the calories.
- Tuna. Tuna, along with sardines and mackerel, contain lots of protein. They’re also full of omega-3 fatty acids while they’re low on fat. Tuna helps you to lose fat, while it also helps maintain your healthy metabolism.
- Chicken (except for the skin). Chicken rivals beef in its ability to provide you with the protein you need. The protein from chicken improves the health of your bones while your muscles get the protein they need to rebuild tissue.
One of the best things about chicken is that there are so many ways to cook and prepare a chicken dish. You can eat chicken frequently and not find yourself sick of its taste.
- Eggs. Don’t listen to all those reports about how eggs are bad for you—these reports are not true at all. If you’re hell-bent on gaining muscle mass, eggs will have to become part of your diet. They pack lots of nutrients for you the money you spend on them. Not only do you get lots of good protein, but you also receive good fat, vitamin D, choline, and 9 essential amino acids.
- Healthy fats. You’re going to need healthy fats if you’re aiming for muscle mass. That’s because you’re going to need growth hormones and testosterone, and healthy fats play an important role in the production of these hormones.
You can get your healthy monounsaturated and polyunsaturated fats from nuts, seeds, and avocado.
- Whole grains. Carbs are going to be a crucial part of your diet, and whole grains offer a much better source of carbs than refined grains. Whole grains are better for your overall health, and they also help provide a steady supply of energy throughout the day. Brown rice is an excellent example. It improves your levels of growth hormones, which help with fat loss and the growth of lean muscle.
- Oatmeal. Oatmeal is great when you’re trying to preserve muscle when you’re also trying to get rid of excess fat. It also has a low glycemic index, which also helps with fat loss and comes with more fiber and a better micronutrient profile.
- Fruits and vegetables. It’s a cliché that you need to eat fruits and vegetables, but it’s a cliché for a reason—these food items really help. They give you enough fiber to help get rid of substances your body doesn’t need. They provide lots of vitamins and minerals, including vitamins C and E plus beta-carotene. And they also provide you with antioxidants which help with your immune system.
If you’re very skinny, you may want to go on a feeding frenzy at least once a week. You may be used to small meals, and this practice will help your body get used to larger amounts of food. You can time this huge meal right after a strenuous workout so most of the calories go you’re your muscles, and your workout may have helped you build up an appetite as well.
What Supplements Should You Take?
Perhaps the most popular supplements among those wishing to gain muscle mass are protein supplements. Whey protein supplements are very popular, because they’re very affordable yet the protein they provide is quite helpful and convenient.
Lots of body builders take protein supplements as often as they can, although your best option is to take a protein supplement right after you’ve worked out. In fact, whole foods may not be your best option for your post-workout protein, as they may take too long to digest.
Other supplements are energy bars that boost your ability to lift heavier weights and to do more reps. Many of these contain stimulants, such as caffeine. Still other supplements claim to help your body become more effective in absorbing nutrients from your food.
Some muscle builders resort to taking muscle building stacks of supplements. These stacks may contain different types of supplements. Some supplements may cause some side effects, and you’ll need to add different substances to these stacks to minimize or eliminate these side effects.
Finally, some people do take anabolic steroid supplements for muscle growth. These things are dangerous, and they’ve been banned for very good reasons. While they may be effective in helping you build muscle, the side effects can be truly horrendous and do serious damage to your health, and even to your mind.
So how do you pick supplements? You read the labels and read the reviews. There are no guarantees with supplements, but a supplement that works with lots of people is more likely to work with you as well.
There are as many recommended workout plans as there are diet plans online, which is to say there’s a lot to choose from. But there are two rules when you’re aiming to gain muscle mass. The first rule is that you need to lift weights. The second rule is that you need to limit your cardio workouts.
Here are some tips to help you out:
- Lifting weights is the widely acknowledged way to get muscle. You may want to focus on intensity rather than endurance, however. You should keep your workouts to less than an hour in duration, as training for more than hour is considered less than effective in gaining muscle. Pick exercises that involve lots of different muscles at once. These exercises include pull-ups, presses, squats, rows, and deadlifts.
- Always stretch and warm up properly. You need fluidity of motion and flexibility, so that you don’t injure yourself doing exercise movement your body has not prepared itself for.
- As you progress, you’re going to need to track your performance and check that you’re improving. Perhaps you may increase the number of reps you make, change the rest period between sets, or you increase the weights you lift. Keep your reps to 6 to 12 per set, and each set should last anywhere from 40 to 70 seconds.
- Try to concentrate on your upper body in one session and then focus on the lower body in the next. That way, you give your muscles time to recover and to build. You should also make sure you train your entire body to minimize injuries. Besides, neglecting muscles don’t make you look impressive—when you have a huge chest and arms but your legs are skinny, you just lock funny.
- You’ll also need to constantly change things around every now and then. For example, you may want to replace one set of exercises with another that also focuses on the same muscle groups. You may also wish to change the order of the exercises you perform. The body is incredibly adaptable, and if you persist in doing the same things over and over you’ll realize that you’ll gain less progress as time passes.
- Your cardio should be limited to about two or three sessions per week, with half an hour for each session. It’s also better to sprint for about a minute and then follow that up with a light jog for a couple of minutes.
While the details of your nutrition and workout plan may differ from anyone else’s, the basic elements are still the same—more calories and protein, plus lots of weightlifting.
Learning how to gain muscle mass also needs patience and determination. You need time to build muscle, and you shouldn’t give up once you start.
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