Building muscle is one of the main reasons why people join a gym. For an athlete, it may provide you with a competitive advantage over your opponents. For the average person, it is an excellent way to feel better, look better, and even function better in daily life.
It can be incredibly difficult and daunting for people to enter the world of fitness. For those interested in building muscle, what you can find on the internet is countless unfounded claims and baseless facts.
However, there are several aspects of building muscle that are relatively straightforward and fundamentally important to know. In this article we will be discussing five muscle building basics that all beginners can benefit from once they start their fitness journey.
1. Progressive Overload
Beginner weightlifters should start with moderate resistance and volume. The old saying “no pain, no gain” couldn’t be further from the truth, and could potentially lead you to injury. Instead, begin with weight that feels manageable to you. Leave your pride at the door.
Progressive overload is the gradual increase in exercise weight (resistance), number of repetitions, or frequency (reduced rest time between sets). This concept is essential to weight training, because it will prevent you from hitting a plateau in your fitness progression.
2. Ensure adequate protein intake
Nutrition is important. There is no escaping this fact. Often times beginner weightlifters fail to consume a sufficient amount of protein relative to their training regimen. Within the world of fitness, there are few, if any, aspects that are more confusing and controversial than protein consumption.
The data published regarding protein intake is overwhelming and is usually tailored to a certain population or performance goal. Above all the noise and confusion is the fact that simply getting “enough” protein each day is critical for building muscle.
What is enough? The Recommended Dietary Allowance (RDA) for protein is 0.8 grams/kilogram of body weight. The RDA is established as the minimum amount of a nutrient that one needs to satisfy basic nutritional requirements. For individuals who do not engage in resistance training and just want a healthy dose of protein, this is considered enough. For individuals who regularly participate in resistance training and have the goal of building muscle, increasing your protein consumption beyond the RDA will be beneficial. Beginner weightlifters seeking to maximize muscle protein synthesis should consider protein intake in the range of 1.3 to 1.8 grams/kilogram of body weight.
3. Optimize sleep
If you are new to the world of health and fitness you might be surprised by this fundamental aspect of muscle building. Resistance training and proper nutrition is only the first half of the process. The second half, which is just as important as the first, is rest and recovery. Sleep is where most of the muscle building and repair occurs.
How much sleep do we need? The answer depends on your age and training intensity. In general, the National Sleep Foundation recommends that young adults (18-25) and adults (26-64) get 7 to 9 hours of sleep every night. Sleep demand increases with exercise. In other words, the more often and harder we train, the more sleep we need. For example, elite athletes may get as much as 12 hours of sleep every night! Remember, when you cheat your sleep, you’re really cheating your muscle building potential.
4. Compound Movements
Emphasize compound movements over isolation exercises. Compound movements are hands-down the best way to achieve overall muscle growth and strength. These exercises include squats, lunges, pull-ups, push-ups, bench presses, shoulder presses, and deadlifts.
Compound exercises target multiple muscle and joint groups at the same time, unlike isolation exercises such as the bicep curl. It will take more time and effort to perform and perfect compound movements, but the strength gains and muscle growth will be more pronounced.
5. Be consistent
You may have heard this before - consistency is key. The one most important thing to getting results in life, no matter what it is you’re trying to achieve, is consistency. Being sick and injured are valid reasons for missing a planned workout. Besides those two reasons, you need to hold yourself accountable for showing up and putting in the work in accordance with your training program.
Let’s take this idea one step further. Being consistent with bad advice or with a bad training program is going to make you consistently bad. How do you know if you’re following bad advice or a bad training program? If your training regime leaves you feeling run down, completely exhausted, and sore to the point where you cannot get back into the gym, then chances are you’re following an unsustainable program.
Lucky for you, Gerardi Performance offers tried and tested workout and diet programs for individuals of all fitness levels. If you’re interested in a 100% personalized muscle building workout and diet program, click here!