09 March 2008 ~ Comments Off on The Basics of Building Muscle

The Basics of Building Muscle

For the first post of my blog, I deemed it of urgent importance to explain the basics of building muscle before getting into more specific topics. This is the check list that you need to go by before asking yourself why you are not gaining muscle.

# 1 – Training

Training builds muscleThere is a lot to talk about when referring to training but I will try to deliver the most important information.

First you need to record your workouts. Include how much weight you lifted, how many times you lifted it (reps), how many sets, and your approximate rest periods between each set. This is crucial because you cannot objectively measure progress unless you can see what you were doing weeks prior to. If you find out that you are not making any overt gains, then you know that something is not right. I have witnessed many of my friends who go to the gym, without writing anything down, and ask me what I am doing to make gains. That book Is more than just a way to tally information. It is motivation. See what you did your last workout and aim to do more. Do not get lazy and neglect this, for it will only halt your progress.

Secondly, you need to know what kind of workouts to do. There is an emporium of information online about the best workout, but all I am going to say about this is listen to your body. I have trained legs with triceps, back with shoulders, calves with abs and every other combination that you can think of. There is no “perfect” workout, but there are a few guidelines to follow when executing one. Keep your workouts under an hour. The longer you workout isn’t necessarily better and in a future article I will discuss why. It is a good rule of thumb to do no more than 12-15 sets per body part that you exercise. Generally, allow 4-5 days before working out a muscle group again.

Lastly, keep things interesting. Change up your workouts, reps, volume, rest periods, exercises, and frequency. Your body is an adapting machine and you need to make sure that it is constantly adapting to new circumstances. If you keep your body guessing then your body will keep growing. At least every eight weeks do an overhaul on your workout plans and mix everything up.

Next, I am going to inform you of probably the most important part of bodybuilding – nutrition.

# 2 – Nutrition:

Proper nutrition allows for proper muscle growthThere are books written in regards to this important element of building muscle. However, I will briefly cover the most important areas of your diet and later discuss them in more detail.

You are what you eat, period. If you want your body to look its best then you need to feed it well. Stray away from fast foods, never skip the most important meals (breakfast, post workout, bedtime), and eat frequently (every 2 hours works for me). Depending on your goals, be aware of your carb/protein/fat consumption and ratios. The only times that you need anything high in the glycemic index (unless you are diabetic) is for breakfast and after you workout, otherwise keep it complex. Stay away from the saturated fats but don’t be scared of consuming good fats.

Good Carb Sources – Fruit, vegetables, oats, sweet potato, rice, pasta, dairy

Good Protein sources – Dairy, lean meats, cheese, nuts, eggs,

Good Fat sources – Nuts, seeds, flax oil, cashews, fish

Next I will discuss something that can completely make your training and diet endeavors useless without it -rest.

#3 – Rest

Sleep is important for a bodybuilderThere really is not much to say about this except don’t overlook it. Get at least 8 hours of sleep a night and don’t train muscle groups if they are sore. Be careful not to over train and listen to your body. The only time that your muscles grow is when you are asleep, so give your body a chance to do this.

# 4 – Supplements

This is perhaps the most insignificant part of building muscle, yet it is often looked at as the prime reason for making gains. Why? People are always looking for a reason to point a finger at someone else for doing what they aren’t, and they are always looking for a way to get results faster. My opinion is that far more effort should be spent into the first three steps before this last one. However, if you must indulge in supplements, at least make it useful by sticking to the basics:

Vitamins – Your macronutrients fill in the gaps that your diet leaves. Keep these bad boys up to par and you will definitely put your body in muscle-build mode.

Protein Powder – This serves as a convenient way to make sure that you are getting in proper amounts of protein. However, don-t let it take the place of whole foods. It is ideal for post workout. Remember, food > supplements.

Creatine – A lot of people have a bad connotation attached to creatine. However, with over 20 years of studies to back up its results and safety, it isn’t very sapient to not utilize this product. It is great for adding more energy to workouts, helping to get over plateaus, and offers some positive muscle building effects.

Ok so there you have it, a short run down of what millions of people need to know to get into shape. This is a basic list, but always make sure that you are constantly working to improve these categories. Much like a chain depends on its supporting links; make sure that you do not neglect these important elements of building muscle. It is now pretty late at night so I must dart off to bed and catch up on #3.

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