The ladies and gentlemen who have conquered the world of fitness several times over, the likes of Eddie Hall, Arnold Schwarzenegger, Pauline Nordin, and Isabella von Weissenberg know that building muscle is not just an aesthetic issue. Having a powerful frame comes with greater strength, more resilience, and a fitter, healthier body for all of your everyday activities.
Suddenly, carrying all of your groceries home doesn’t seem all too difficult after a few weeks of doing the Farmer’s walk, and you don’t cringe when someone asks you if you can help them move.
Now, even if you don’t plan on joining the aforementioned hall of fame, there is so much you can do to elevate your efforts to build more muscle, and consequently earn a leaner, stronger physique, and a more functional body.
By now, you already understand that resistance training is go-to method to build muscle. However, for the gym novices among you, it’s not enough to just pick a weight and chase the pump, but crafting the right program, minding your frequency, volume, and intensity, and choosing the most effective movements also matter.
For example, compound movements that push your entire body to work, such as squats, pull-ups, deadlifts, lunges, and the like, are a better alternative to isolation movements that target a single muscle. Make sure you hit all the muscles enough times during the week (don’t be that guy who skips leg day), and monitor your intensity – too much or too little is equally damaging for retaining and building muscle.
By far the most neglected factor is how consistent you are with your sleep. Quantity and quality do matter, of course, since few of us can function optimally with less than seven or eight hours every night, but if you manage to do that only every third night, you’re making your journey much harder.
Muscle protein synthesis, hormone regulation, and other metabolic processes that are vital to building muscle all happen after your training is done, and especially during sleep. This is when your body heals, repairs your damaged muscles, and prepares you for the next grueling workout – so it’s up to you to provide it with as much quality rest as possible.
In addition to sleep and training, diet is the third pillar of building muscle you cannot possibly afford to neglect. Building the right diet by minding your caloric intake as well as you macronutrient balance will let you eat enough protein to allow your muscles to grow, enough carbs to replenish your glycogen stores, and enough fats to stay healthy.
However, it’s often recommended to add professional gym supplements to their diet, so that you can meet your daily caloric and macronutrient needs. Whether it’s protein, creatine, or a bulking blend, you can significantly improve your efforts when you balance your nutrition with the right food and supplements designed to aid in muscle building.
It’s not just that your body is predominantly composed of water, but it’s also essential for many bodily processes that will lead to building healthy, lean muscle. For example, you cannot expect nutrient absorption to happen smoothly if you don’t drink enough water.
Plus, proper hydration is vital for ensuring maximum productivity in training, your energy levels will increase, and you will be able to perform better when you drink enough water.
Although adding some aerobic exercises into your routine is an excellent choice for your overall cardiovascular health and your endurance, you should make sure that it’s not counterproductive to your muscle-building goals.
Have you ever seen a marathon runner bursting at the seams with muscles? However, short-distance runners pack much more muscle on their frame. If your primary goal is to build muscle, don’t waste too much time on the treadmill, because it may have an adverse effect on your gains.
Stress is a sneaky beast, one that can ruin almost any endeavor you set your heart and mind to, and gains are no different. Coming from a wide range of sources and triggers, stress tends to affect many internal processes of your body, from producing the right hormones, all the way to your willingness to stick to your diet, that it’s one of the most common causes of failure.
If your gym routine or your jogging isn’t enough to keep you Zen, by all means, do something else to relax and unwind on a regular basis. Meditation, soothing baths, massages, and quality time with those you love should be your no-stress vents that help you keep your body in balance.
No fad diet or a brilliant workout program can deliver results overnight, or in a week for that matter. Most people are very eager to see the change quickly, but building lean muscle is a long-term process that should be perceived as a commitment rather than a temporary aspiration. By dividing your overall goal of getting bulkier into daily, weekly, and monthly milestones, you will get more control over the entire process.
Consistency in all above mentioned aspects of your lifestyle is the glue that keeps them all together and helps them work their magic. Stay persistent, keep monitoring your progress with apps or journals, and you will start to notice the progress in more ways than just your physical appearance.