3 simple tips to help build muscle.

Now we know not everyone wants to look like a bodybuilder, but being able to build some muscle regardless of the look you are after is important as it keeps you healthier, mobile and promotes a better, more efficient metabolism. However, many people struggle to develop the physique they want as they struggle to build muscle. So, we present to you three simple tips that will help you on you do just that.

1. Be consistent in attitude and progressive in application.

Growing muscle is a slow process for most people. Therefore, being consistent in our diet and training is essential. Many of you might be going to the gym regularly and eating well, but how many of you log your workouts and your food intake to know how your strength is progressing and how many calories you are eating? Simply put, to grow muscle we need to create a stimulus for it to adapt (weight training) and provide fuel for recovery (food). As our body adapts to the stimulus, we need to place more stress on the muscle to make it grow. If you are not getting stronger each week or progressing the amount of work you are doing in the gym, then it is unlikely that you will be growing, as you are not forcing adaptations. Yes, this is hard, but unfortunately that’s the way it has to be. So, if you’re not already, start logging your training and working out how you can force an adaptation. Using more weight (even tiny increases), more reps and more sets are three things you can look at manipulating each week to increase your training volume. The same applies to food; be consistent, eat enough protein each day (around 2g per kg of bodyweight) and then note how many calories you consume. If you’re not growing, eat more.

2. Be patient.

Leading on from the last point… Even if have your training is progressing and your diet is consistent, don’t be too impatient. Muscle grows at a rate of grams per week for most; so if you’re gaining weight too quickly, you might be gaining fat. This is for most unnecessary, so hold your calories until body fat starts to fall (which it should as you build more muscle, as more muscle means more energy is required to keep it). If you are already overweight, then as long as you provide adequate protein in the diet and enough energy to fuel your training and recovery, then you can lose fat and build muscle at the same time, even on an energy deficit. Energy required to build muscle will be taken from fat stores so are not required from the diet. On the opposite end of the spectrum, if you are very lean, then you may need to sacrifice a little condition to grow as there are no extra reserves to support muscle growth.

3. Get enough rest.

More is not always better. When we train hard, we need chance to let the body recover and grow. The temptation for many people when they struggle to build muscle is to train more frequently. No matter how hard you train and how well you progress your workouts, there will be a threshold for the amount of training you can do where you need to consider taking extra time out of the gym. This will vary from person to person and will be dependent on training volume and nutrition, but if you are pushing your training hard in each session and increasing output like we have suggested, this needs to be accompanied with proper rest. It is possible that at a certain point when you progress your training output that it will become so high that your performance in the gym will start to decrease; this is a good sign to take a week or so out the gym, or employ light training to let the body recover. On a weekly basis you should get at least two, if not three full rest days per week out of the gym in order to allow recovery. Also, remembering to get enough sleep is a really common issue for many, and will definitely impair your recovery and growth.

So there you have it, the ‘secret’ to muscle gain. The truth is there is no real secret or system to muscle growth. It is fundamentally about consistent application of effort, and consistent progression of your training and nutrition. Identifying how much rest and recovery you need is something that takes time and experience, but taking a bit of time out the gym or backing right off with your training intensity and volume when you start to feel constantly tired will do you no harm, and it is very common that after a short break that people come back bigger and stronger.