If you wish you gain muscle fast, one question that trips you up is undoubtedly this: 'What can I do to build muscle as effectively as possible?' 💪
Cue, turning to many advanced lifting techniques (like drop sets and program periodization) in hopes of adding mass to your frame in the most time-efficient manner. And when you don’t see results? You’re likely to switch up your routine again, wishing that a novel stimulus is going to ‘shock’ your body into responding.
Unfortunately, that’s not going to work.
While much of muscle growth has to do with patience, consistency, and time (hypertrophy takes time!), the truth is that it also relies on proper alignment of your training and nutrition habits.
In other words: you have to train and eat per your goals. Below, find out the various nutrition and training factors you need to take care of–other than putting in the hard work in the weights room–to turn your body into a muscle-building machine.
Eat enough protein
There’s no running away from this.
Protein supplies your body with the amino acids (i.e. building blocks) needed to repair muscles torn during training. The more you lift, the more protein you're going to need–especially if you're doing a body recomposition, where you’re eating in a slight calorie deficit to build muscle and lose fat simultaneously.
If you don't eat enough protein, what's going to happen is your body will allocate however much there is to other crucial bodily processes, like making hormones (hypertrophy isn't a priority for survival).
So, always shoot for a protein intake of anywhere between 1.6 grams to 2.0 grams of protein per kg of body weight daily. This is particularly crucial if you’re on a vegan diet, where protein intake is generally lower than non-vegan diets.
For instance, if you weigh 50 kg, you should consume roughly 100 grams of protein daily. Unable to hit that amount through your diet alone? Don’t worry–you always have the option of supplementing your intake with protein shakes.
Avoid high-intensity cardio as much as possible
There are many reasons to love high-intensity cardio sessions–they can help you burn more calories in less time, double up as strength training, and perhaps most of all: they make it seem as though you're working your body doubly hard. You're sweating, panting, and out-of-breath. Every HIIT session is a great workout.
That is… Unless you’re looking for maximum muscle growth.
High-intensity cardio forms are known to involve a high degree of eccentric components that cause considerable muscle damage. That means they require quite a bit of time to recover from. And what happens when you’re sore?
You’re less likely to work out again. And that will decrease your training volume, the most significant contributor to hypertrophy.
With that said, should you now skip out on cardio altogether?
Of course not. Cardio brings about plenty of health benefits, including improved heart health, lowered blood pressure, and strengthened immune system, after all.
What you should do, instead, is reduce high-intensity to a minimum in your training routine. You could replace 2 of your cardio sessions with low-impact alternatives, like walking or swimming, for example.
Stay hydrated, always
You probably already know that it's essential to stay hydrated for optimal health in general. But you likely didn't realize your hydration status could affect your muscle growth as well!
Here's the thing. Because water is involved in so many essential bodily processes, research has found that being just 2% dehydrated can start to hinder your body's ability to perform!
Being only slightly dehydrated can slow the activity of enzymes in your body–and that includes the ones responsible for the production of energy.
Meaning? If you wish to train as hard as you possibly can, you’ll have to stay properly hydrated.
While there are all sorts of recommendations for exactly how much water you should consume daily, the consensus is that you should aim to drink at least eight glasses of water.
There are 2 (relatively) easy ways to tell if you're adequately hydrated:
• Urine color – If your urine is a pale, yellow color, odds are, you’re properly hydrated. However, if it’s dark-colored, that's a sign that you probably need to drink more fluids. Do also note that certain foods and/or supplements can alter your urine's natural color. For instance, vitamin B12 supplementation can turn your urine fluorescent yellow or green.
• Sweat rate – Another way to measure your hydration is to weigh yourself before and after training. The weight difference can be an indicator of your hydration status. If you’ve put on or maintained weight, then you could assume that you’re properly hydrated. But if you’ve lost weight? Then you’ll have to drink more fluids to replace what you’ve lost.
Get enough sleep
Skimping on your sleep every night? After all, if The Rock (Dwayne Johnson) can maintain his figure on a meager 4 hours of sleep, so can you, right?
Well… Not everyone is The Rock.
As it turns out, adequate quality sleep is crucial for increasing muscle mass and improving performance in the weights room. That's because sleep helps replenish your muscle glycogen stores.
A little background: muscle glycogen is an important fuel source during exercise. If you run out of it, you'll experience something called 'hitting the wall.'
In addition to that, sleep is also the period where your body is flooded with the human growth hormone (HGH)–one of the primary hormones that help maintain, build, and repair muscle tissues.
So, every night you sleep for less than 7 hours? You’re essentially shortchanging yourself of this natural muscle-building compound.
According to National Sleep Foundation guidelines, adults should strive for anywhere between 7 to 9 hours of sleep per night. If you’re someone who constantly tosses and turns at night, it may be worthwhile improving your sleep hygiene.
A few things to try include black-out curtains, barring electronic device use an hour before sleep-time, and avoiding caffeine and/or alcohol 5 hours before turning in.
All this assumes you're lifting
Of course, all the muscle-building tips mentioned in this article? They'll only help you gain muscle mass fast if you're putting in the work to lift weights consistently. And for that, there's probably nothing that'll get you closer to your physique goals than GymStreak – the AI-powered personal trainer app that delivers personalized, periodized workout sessions tailored to your unique goals. Try it out today.Get GymStreak
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