Many people ask me how to build muscle? Some are wanting it for looks, some for strength, others to boost metabolism and some to enhance ease of daily activities. Typically there are two key factors to focus on to improve muscle mass – strength training and nutrition. With the body being such a complicated organism, there are other components that play a significant role, however these are the two main factors we can focus on daily.
Resistance exercises require the body to apply force to a muscle under load. This can be either through body weighted exercises, using free weights, holding a muscle in a fixed position or using machine weights with a controlled loading. Typically muscle size grows in size optimally when performing repetitions of around 8 to 12 reps per set. For best results the muscle needs to have almost reached fatigue by the last repetition. Overall muscular strength can be enhanced with typically less repetitions whereas muscular endurance increased with higher repetitions.
Any form of strength training can be beneficial to the individual as it enhances metabolism, assists with bone density, can improve balance and improves the ability to perform everyday activities. Strength training can also have many other physiological benefits that can help prevent or manage disease.
So, regardless of whether your goal is to build muscle, there are many reasons to perform strength training at least a couple of times per week. On a side note, rest and recovery is also essential to allow muscle to repair and grow. Overworking muscles and not allowing recovery will not improve size or strength. Speak to a trained fitness professional if you need guidance on programming for training, rest and recovery.
The body can only perform as well as the nutrients it has to work with. Think of nutrition as your tools to building a precision machine. The body focuses on survival before before any other aspect. So nutrients will typically be provided to essential sources first, for example brain, circulatory system, digestive system etc. Increasing muscle mass is typically not a priority if limited nutrients are available.
So, to build muscle mass adequate nutrition is essential. Your body will unlikely provide nutrients to muscle if you’re not eating enough calories and providing adequate nutrients. Nutrition is essential if you want to maximize your training results, and who wants to do an intense workout and not get the best results? No one… a lot of effort for reduced results.
Adequate nutrition includes having enough calories for energy, protein to assist with rebuilding muscle mass post workout, along with a host of other micronutrients that assist with the physiological response to exercise and recovery. Branched chain amino acids are particularly important as these are the specific nutrients in building the muscle fibre. However, replenishing energy stores, removing toxins from the effect of exercise and allowing recovery is just as important.
By having a balanced nutritious diet, that incorporates quality nutrients over the day can assist with results. Supplementation is an optional and convenient choice and can be beneficial particularly to those who have specific performance goals. For the general population a balanced diet or a mix of a healthy and diet and basic supplementation can be sufficient. You can read more about the products I choose to use here.
There are more advanced strategies that can be added to this such as nutritional timing, cycling of programs, focusing on specific muscle groups and training protocols. However, the basis of how to build muscle mass in general comes down to strength training and nutrition.
Often I use the analogy of thinking of the body as a precision machine. If we want it to perform optimally we need to ensure it has all the parts required (nutrients) and we care for it with quality fuel (nutrition) and any other aspect it needs to run efficiently, such as exercise, rest and recovery. Funnily enough we often abuse our own ‘vehicle’ by providing cheap fuel, we miss essential parts it requires, don’t care for it but still try to drive it like we stole it 😂🤣…. and then complain 😉🤔🤣.
If I can offer any advice it would be to value your health. It truly is your best asset. If you need guidance and support, check out my online program where we focus on the basics to build better health. You can read more here.