Last week, we reviewed the difference between toning and bulking. Today, we are going to dive deeper into how we go about gaining muscle - both with exercise, recovery, and nutrition.
A workout designed to increase the diameter of your muscle fibers will consist of low to intermediate repetition ranges with progressive overload. Naturally, our bodies will adapt to the demands we place on, so we must challenge it in order to gain muscle. We want to perform 6-12 repetitions for 3-5 sets at 75-85% of our one repetition maximum. Rest should range 1-2 minutes between each set to allow your body time to recover.
The opposite is also true. If we stop challenging our bodies, we stop growing. When training is stopped, our gains are lost. This said, we want to keep exercise varied and perform movements that will keep your body guessing.
When training for big gains, we use split routines. A split routine is one that works certain muscles groups on given days. This allows your body to rest and rebuild before you attack it again.
You cannot gain muscle just by moving weight. You have to pair it with nutrition that will support growth.
First, in order to optimally gain muscle tissue, you must maintain a caloric surplus. You need to consume more calories than you are burning in a day. The optimal caloric surplus ranges between ~350-500 kcal per day.
Consuming more calories is step one, but more importantly, we want to consume the right calories.
According to research, the optimal protein intake for muscle gain is between 1.6-2.2 g/kg. This translates to 0.7-0.8 g/lb of body weight per day.
Carbohydrates are critical for maximizing muscle growth. The lack of carbs has been shown to impair growth. Current guidelines for optimization are 4-7 g/kg per day or 1.8-3.2 g/lb or body weight per day.
When preparing our meals, there are three things we want to ensure:
correct daily caloric intake amount
adequate protein intake
sufficient carbohydrate intake
Most importantly, focus on real, clean foods. When we gain muscle, we are tearing down our muscle fibers. We need to feed them what they need to repair and grow.
Are you ready to make gains?
Gaining muscle, or bulking, is nothing more than working and feeding your body right. Create a demand and optimize the environment, and be ready to see results. It doesn't happen overnight, but give it a few weeks and you will begin to see and feel a difference. The key is consistency.