Are you getting out walking? I hope so. It is one of the best exercises for you and if you are physically able, it is something you should try to get out and do every day.
One of the next most important exercises you should be doing regularly is resistance training. Want to burn fat? Get stronger? Improve your body composition? Decrease your risk of heart disease and diabetes? Improve your bone density? Fertilize your brain and actually change the size of it for better?
Do you want to live a better quality of life, now and well into the future?
If you said yes to any of those, then it is time to prioritize one of your largest organs. Muscle is a vastly underestimated organ, one that burns fat, influences metabolism, protects against disease, fertilizes your brain and so much more.
Trust me when I say, you want to build muscle, and lots of it. And the only way to get it is to use it, or you will lose it. And by losing it, you do the opposite of what I stated above…you lose quality of life, your bones get more brittle, your memory starts to go, you become more susceptible to diabetes and heart disease and you gain body fat.
So, I am going to assume you are all on the “I want more muscle” bandwagon now. Here are your THREE KEYS TO GAINING MUSCLE MASS
KEY 1 = Lift Weights
If you are interested in building muscle mass you need to lift weights. How heavy the weights should be and how many times you should lift them depends on a number of factors BUT, there are some generalizations you can start with.
As a beginner lifter you will want to lift less weight, but more times so that you can get your body prepared for lifting heavier weights. You can also do full body resistance training sessions where you work all your muscles in each session, repeating two or three times and then returning again that week to do it one more time.
- Beginner: 12-15 repetitions, 2-3 sets, 1 exercise per body part, 2-3 days per week, full body workout.
As you get stronger and your body knows how to move the weights around safely you can start to increase your weights, therefore decreasing how many times you are able to lift them until you get fatigued. You can exercise each body part in two different ways in each session (ie a chest press and a pec fly) and can split your workout up over 3-4 days and into body groups (ie upper and lower body days).
- Advanced: 5-10 repetitions, 3-6 sets, 2 exercises per body part, 3-4 days per week, split workout
KEY 2 = Eat Enough Protein
If you want to build or maintain muscle you have to consume protein. And enough so that you activate “muscle protein synthesis” (MPS) or muscle building. This is only activated by feeding the body with the proper building blocks, consuming high quality protein, in the right amount, throughout the day.
How much protein you need varies, but studies have shown that we need to consume 20-30 grams of protein in one sitting in order to stimulate MPS and ideally that protein contains the amino acid leucine in it. Leucine is suspected to be the only amino acid that can stimulate muscle growth and prevent deterioration as we age.
- Consume 1.0 – 1.5 grams of protein per kilogram of body weight you have
- Consume leucine rich foods like chicken, beef, pork, tuna, tofu, pumpkin seeds and eggs
If you want to learn more about protein, how much you need and what are good sources of it check out my blog, Protein: the What, the Why, the How and the When,
KEY 3 = Sleep Enough
It’s not only that getting enough sleep helps muscles grow, without adequate sleep muscle mass actually decreases. A study in 2011 discovered that individuals who slept only 5.5 hours had 60% less muscle mass at the end of the study, compared to those who slept 8.5 hours and had 40% more muscle mass. The key may be that the bulk of our growth hormone and testosterone is secreted while we sleep, these are essential for muscle growth and repair.
- An average person requires 7-9 hours of sleep per day.
Now I know a lot of you might feel nervous lifting weights on your own or without proper instruction and I don’t disagree but I would worry less about the danger of lifting weights and more so about the dangers of being weak.
Happy Lifting everyone!
Related Post: Protein: The What, the Why, the How and the When