Most people who join the gym want to build muscle. Simple as that. It could be as well as wanting to stay fit or to train for a certain event, or just to focus on building muscle in their bodies. People think lifting heavy weights as often as they can will get them to where they want to be, but your body is actually building muscle when you aren’t working out, meaning your workout should continue outside of the gym. This article is split into two sections: Rest, and Nutrition, to make it easy to see how you can effectively build up muscle whilst still staying healthy and keeping your body safe.
Someone preparing to build muscle.
You should be aware that rest days when being at the gym are just as important as working out. This is key when muscle training, as resting your body is essential in building up muscle tissue. We recommend 3 rest days if you workout the other four days in the week. This gives your body time to repair and your muscles time to grow and improve. It’s suggested that you don’t take two rest days next to each other as your overall workout can suffer, so spreading them out throughout the week is best, but see how you can work around your current routine to get the best rest you possibly can.
Another point to bring up is sleep! It is so important for muscle building to sleep as many hours as you possibly can each night to allow your muscle tissue time to grow and repair. By focusing on your training just when you are in the gym and not continuing when you are at home can reverse all the effort you have put into your body. Simply, rest is just as important as the actual time you put in at the gym, and the time you put into your muscles is pointless if you don’t allow your body to rest as that is the only time your muscle tissue builds.
Someone actually building muscle.
When you are lifting weights, the protein in your muscles begin to breakdown, and then when you rest, protein synthesis occurs which helps to rebuild your muscles. This takes place through consuming foods that are high in protein so that synthesis levels are higher than breakdown levels. It sounds scary and complicated, but it is perfectly normal when weight training for this to happen. Even simpler, you need to stay healthy outside of the gym as well as in so that your muscles can improve. This can be done by eating enough calories every day, even on rest days, and filling up on protein and other essentials:
Protein - Aids in repair and muscle growth. This can be added to your diet by eating: Meat, Eggs, Fish, Quinoa, Nuts, etc. You may already have enough protein in your diet, but by planning your meals and food shop, you will help yourself eat better meals to help muscle growth. You can also supplement protein with protein powders and drinks.
Carbs – These provide slow release energy to help you get through the day without snacking and give you enough energy when working out. These can be added to your diet by eating: Bread, Rice, Pasta, Potatoes, Oats, Fruit, etc. These easily give your meals more variety.
Glutamine – This is an amino acid that is important for lean muscle growth. It can be added to your diet by eating: Whey Protein, Spinach, Cabbage, Broccoli, Organic Poultry, etc. It can be harder to add these into your diet, but a few can easily be found and used in most meals.
To calculate your calories and track your nutrition we recommend the My Fitness Pal app:
Whilst this won't be 100% accurate, it is a great place to start and you can adjust as you go along. With regards to protein intake, a great starting point is to consume: 1g of protein per lb of bodyweight per day and then adjust to suit. We will go into more detail about calculating these macronutrients in coming articles so stay tuned!
To sum up, your workout should continue outside of the gym, whether you are trying to build muscle or not. Muscle actually builds and repairs when you aren’t working out, so make sure to factor sleeping and rest into your fitness routine, as well as making sure you are getting all the food you need to aid with the muscle growth.
Good luck with your muscle training!