Have you been going to the gym regularly for months and haven’t been able to put on any serious poundage? If you answered yes to any of these questions, it’s time to take a step back and make some plans. Building muscle is not rocket science. There are four key factors that will mean the difference between building muscle and staying skinny. You have to ask yourself these four questions.
Is my diet optimized for building muscle?
It’s time to get out of the “3 meals per day” mentality. If you want to gain (or lose) weight you need to feed your body whole foods, six times per day. This means splitting your large meals up and eating about once every three hours. Not only is this good for your metabolism, but your body will use the foods instead of storing them as fat.
Your six meals per day should consist of mainly complex carbohydrates and protein. You should aim for at least thirty grams of protein per meal. High protein foods include lean meat, chicken, fish, egg whites, cheese and milk products. Complex carbohydrates are found in brown rice, brown bread and potatoes. Stay away from foods high in salt and sugar
Should I be using supplements, and when should I be taking them?
If you can afford supplements you should be using them. The basic three you should be considering are protein, carbs and creatine. Whey protein supplements are the fastest known way to deliver quality protein to your muscles. This makes shakes particularly effective after your workouts, when your body is craving protein for muscle re-growth.
There are three key times that supplements should be taken. First thing in the morning, after your workout and before bed. If your diet is up to scratch you shouldn’t need supplements at any other time. Don’t use supplements to replace meals. Supplements are supplements, not meal replacements.
Am I training hard and not smart?
The biggest mistake the new lifters make is thinking that the more they workout the bigger they’ll get. This couldn’t be further from the truth! Two basic rules you must remember when it comes to weight training. First, quality is better than quantity. Second, compound exercises are the kings of building muscle.
Compound exercises require at least two joint movements. Big compound exercises are the squat, bench press, wide grip pull up and seated row. These movements recruit many more muscles fibers to use to move the weight. This means more muscle groups are worked, the exercise is more challenging and the potential for growth is much greater.
Generally you should be doing three compound exercises for one isolation exercise. For example your back/biceps workout might consist of wide grip pull ups, seated row, bent over row and standing bicep curl. You might think this is not enough work for your biceps? Wrong. Your biceps are worked heavily in all over these exercises; the bicep curl just finishes them off.
The length of any training session should not exceed one hour. And you only need to train one muscle group once per week. This means a split routine should only need to be three days per week. In fact, most professional bodybuilders only train four times per week. Remember, it’s quality not quantity.
Do I get enough rest and recovery time?
When you workout you’re not building your muscles, you’re breaking them down. The reason why you looked “pumped up” when you’re in the gym is because your muscle tissue is swollen and damaged. Your muscles actually grow when you are resting. So in simple terms, no rest equals no muscle growth.
So take it easy when you’re not working out. Ease up on the cardio. And make sure you get plenty of sleep. Sleep is the body’s number one time for building muscle. This is also why it’s important to eat before bed, so your body has the fuel to repair muscle in your sleep.
Simple isn’t it?
So you can see that despite what you read in magazines or on the web about building muscle, it’s surprisingly simple. If you get the four aspects I have mentioned in this article right, you will build muscle.
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