Were you always the skinny kid at school? Picked last in gym class because you looked like a light weight? Or are you that guy who’s trying to switch from body mass to muscle? No matter which kind of guy you are, there’s no denying that building muscle is a tough feat to accomplish and it’s even tougher if you’re doing it the right way. Just because it’s tough doesn’t mean it’s complicated though!
As long as your committed and stick to the proper training plans (yes, you’ll need more than one) as well as nutrition plans, you can say hello to some awesome gains must faster than you ever expected. Here’s a few tips to get you started on your journey to a stronger, thicker you.
Tip #1: Limit Your Cardiovascular Exercise
This may seem counter intuitive to some of you since the general consensus is the more exercise, the better, but when it comes to building muscle cardio can actually cause you to lose muscle. Instead of starting your workouts with cardio, trim it down to two days a week. If you’re a fan of the treadmill, keep it to a light 30-minute jog.
The best cardio for men trying to trim fat and put on muscle, however, is to switch to sprint intervals for their cardio. For example, sprint all out for a full minute then switch to a light jog for two minutes. Repeat this interval until you hit the 30-minute mark. If you’re opting for interval training instead of your usual steady jog, then you can kick it up to three times a week.
Tip #2: Decrease Your Reps
That’s right, bros. There really is a rep range that is optimal for building the most amount of muscle possible. So what’s the magic number? The general consensus amongst the weight lifting community is 12 repetitions.
When trying to build muscle, your reps should hover between 6 to 12 reps per set in order for you to see the most muscle growth possible. Additionally, your weight training sessions should ever go over 45 minutes. Rather than going for a higher number of reps, you should be going for a lower number of reps at the heaviest weight that you can manage.
If you want to get even more precise about it, each of your sets should only last about 40 to 70 seconds. If you’re not keeping your sets within this time frame, you’re probably not putting your muscles to work long enough to make them grow.
Tip #3: Keep Your Nutrition on Point
You would think that eating properly would be easy if all you’re trying to do is gain muscle. Unfortunately, that’s not the case. In fact, it may even be more important to be especially picky about your food if you’re trying to gain muscle.
One thing to take note of when building muscle is that you need to be eating regularly. This means consuming 5 to 6 small meals per day. Hitting 6 meals a day is especially necessary if you have a hard time putting on the gains.
With that being said, you should make sure that you’re getting good quality fuel into your body to keep the gains coming. Protein is definitely on top of the list as an important food group to eat. As a rule of thumb, you should be consuming 1 gram of protein per pound of your body weight every day.
Tip #4: Go for Split or Total-Body Routines
Nowadays, you’ll often find people focusing on just one specific muscle group per session. This is probably not the best thing to do if you want to put on muscle mass, though. Instead, what you should be doing is going for a total-body workout or doing split routines wherein you focus on either the upper body or the lower body during your workout.
While there are pros and cons to doing full-body weight lifting workouts and doing split routines, one thing remains clear: it’s much better than trying to spend your entire session isolating one muscle group. The more muscle groups you engage in one exercise, the great the amount of hormones you’ll be releasing in your body from the training.
This translates to greater muscle growth throughout the day. Whether you pick split or whole body routines, it’s advisable to fill your workout regimen with lifts that require the use of multiple muscle groups at the same time. This means adding exercises like squats, presses, pull ups, dead lifts and rows to your routine.
Tip #5: Don’t Forget to Stretch, Rest and Recover
Often times, especially with us men, we go so hard at the gym that we forget how important it is to stretch, rest and recover. Stretching is particularly important after your work out to help prevent injuries and improve your recovery between your workouts.
Additionally, stretching will help to keep your body flexible. You can stretch your muscles out in any number of ways such as massages or a foam roller. Any static stretching can help as well. When it comes to resting, the fitness and medical community has been pretty consistent in recommending a solid 8 hours of sleep per night.
If you want to make sure that your body gets the recovery time it needs (this is, after all, the time that your muscle uses to heal and grow), you should strive to train or hit the weights no more than 4 times in a week. Sure you might be itching to hit the gym, but remember that it is when you are at rest that your muscles do its growing.
Did you know that getting enough rest also has a lot to do with managing your stress levels? For example, high levels of stress or nervousness can send your cortisol levels through the roof. This is particularly terrible because cortisol is the hormone that causes your body to retain fat and burn the muscle fibers in your body.