By Elliot Fisher MS, CSCS, PES, NSCA-CPT
Everyone wants to build more muscle but few people do what the things needed to actually build muscle.
1. Resistance training. You need to be lifting weights consistently for a long time to build muscle.
You also need to be lifting heavy enough weights to elicit adaptation. A 7/10 intensity is probably sufficient but more is better. Lifting to failure or past all the time will lead to injuries and burnout.
Over time it will take more stimulus to ensure progress. You need to add weight, reps, sets, and make the workouts harder overtime. This is called progressive overload.
2. Diet. If you’re not eating enough protein you wont build muscle. Protein and amino acids are the literal building blocks of muscle. They are also used for a ton of other chemical and enzymatic reactions in the body for general health and physiology. Enough protein is needed to ensure you have the resources to build the muscle you want. Somewhere around 0.8 grams to 1.1 grams is usually sufficient to build muscle. Less protein is needed if you’re actively gaining weight, and more is needed when you’re losing weight. If you’re maintaining your weight then 1 gram per pound of body weight is a good target.
Eating enough calories. If you’re chronically dieting to lose weight and body fat you won’t have sufficient calories to really build much muscle. You can gain a lot of muscle eating around maintenance or a little more than maintenance. If you’re really thin and are looking to put a lot of muscle on over time then eating in a larger calorie surplus like 500 calories above maintenance may be warranted.
3. Recovery. You need to be taking time to rest and recover. This means taking at least one day off lifting per week if not two or three. Sleep is also essential for recovery as well as hormones and overall health. Try to get 7-9 hours per night.
Taking a deload week once a month is a good idea too in order to make sure you’re not getting injured or overusing your connective tissues.
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