How Do I Build Muscle?

When we speak about building muscle, generally the first thing that comes to mind is going to the gym and lifting weights.

While resistance training in the form of weights is certainly plays a large role, when it comes to building muscle, most of the work is actually done in the kitchen, in that what you eat will have a greater part to play in the size and strength of your muscles.

Muscles respond to the amount of calories and protein that you eat, how you exercise and the quality of your rest and recovery. The balance between these components will determine how effectively you are able to build muscle.

Resistance training is where you break down muscle fibres, encouraging the body to rebuild these fibres bigger and stronger. The rebuilding process is where the real muscle growth occurs, and this happens when we rest.

The body takes nutrients available in the bloodstream and uses them to initiate repairs. Having a surplus of calories in your system means that there is excess energy available to build bigger muscles than before.

How Should I Eat?

Making sure that your nutrition is on point is one of the key ways to encourage your body to build muscle. The balance between the amount of protein, carbs and fats that you eat throughout each day will determine how your body responds to any exercise that you do.

Protein

The more protein you incorporate in to your diet the better as fat as muscle building goes. There is a base daily requirement of protein as it is not a nutrient that can be stored in the body.

You need anywhere from 1.6 to 2.2g of protein per kilogram of body weight to maximize recovery and build muscle. For a person weighing 80kg, that averages out at around 150g of protein per day.

Check out our article on protein for more in-depth view on what role protein plays in your diet overall

Carbohydrates

Your body uses stored glycogen as fuel during exercise. Consuming enough slow burning carbs throughout the day will help to increase the amount of energy that you are able to use during exercise and replenish what energy you have burned effectively.

When eaten in tandem with protein, the rate at which glycogen and proteins are synthesised within the body is enhanced, helping you to get better results from your training.

How Should I Train?

The question of how intensively and frequently you should train is one that doesn’t have an exact answer as it depends on where you’re starting.

If you haven’t done a lot of weight training before and are looking to increase your muscle mass, here are some basic tips to help you get started:

Start Slowly

It is important to give your body time to adapt to lifting heavy weights. Your muscles, bones and joints will be under greater pressure than they are used to, so it is a good idea to go easy at first and allow them time to adapt.

Focus first on getting your form right and activating the correct muscle groups so that when the time comes to increase the resistance you can take full advantage.

Add Weight

Gradually increasing the weight stresses your body and muscles. It triggers them to gain in strength and size so they can better handle heavy weights in the future.

Now that you’ve got your technique dialled in, try to push yourself to lift more today than you did last week. Every increase in weight that you are able to lift equates to greater muscle building potential.

Rest, Recover, Re-Hydrate

Muscles need time to recover from the stresses of working out in order to grow bigger and stronger. Try to allow for at least a 48 hour rest period between working out specific muscle sets. So if Monday is chest day for you, try to wait until Thursday before choosing to work out your chest again.

When you work out you break down body tissues and cause microscopic tears in your muscles. Resting gives your muscles, nerves, tissues and bones time to rebuild bigger and stronger.

During deep sleep your body’s production of growth hormone increases, which helps the process of repairing and rebuilding muscles. Making sure that you get enough quality sleep is essential, along with keeping your body hydrated to ensure that the system runs as smoothly as possible

Fuel Your Workouts

In order to increase in size you must be consuming more energy than you are using each day. This way your body will have left over fuel for building more muscle.

Exactly how much energy you need to consume will vary based on your current size and how vigorously you exercise. There are tools available online, such as this calculator to help you dial in the exact numbers.

Aside from keeping your main meals full of the right nutrition, a pre workout snack of good carbs and protein, such as oatmeal, will help to give you the extra energy needed to workout with greater intensity.

Once you’ve finished exercising, chances are that your muscles will be depleted in glycogen and will need refuelling. Having a meal that is high in protein and carbs, such as any of our Swole Range meals, will help your body to rebuild and recover faster.

Be Patient, Be Consistent

As the saying goes, good things take time. Any gains that are made quickly can be lost just as fast, and if you are committed to improving your overall health, size and strength long term you mustn’t place too much pressure on yourself in the beginning.

Eating healthy and exercising are good habits that will become the basis of a healthy lifestyle if you stick with them, and your persistence will become visible in the long run. Stay true to your goals and let the results take care of themselves.