So many people ask us this question... Why can't I build muscle quick? The reason this is such a popular question is because it's the main reason people go the gym.
Build a bit of muscle and improve overall physique.
We're going to take a look at how you can make some quick changes to help you build muscle without sacrificing health or performance.
First thing we want to look at is our nutrition. Which is can be broken down into three main areas;
- Nutrients & Food Quality
- Protein intake
First we start by manipulating calories because gaining muscle is an anabolic process. This means that
'it requires energy in order to build up large molecules from smaller ones. So, you need to be taking in more energy than you burn.'
Also known as a Calorie Surplus and it is how we gain muscle, size and with this often comes some body fat too - but we can get rid of this later when we diet back down. To get in a calorie surplus what we need to do is work out our maintenance calories and aim to eat higher than this each day. Please note; as your weight goes up so will your maintenance calorie number so you will have to keep working this out and eating more.
Nutrients are very important to nail down from the off. Whilst shovelling in all this food and calories is going to provide us with weight gain. Eating the wrong macro split, unhealthy food or too much of the wrong thing can lead to internal problems such as gut health issues, organ problems and even diabetes if you're really not careful. This is why calorie intake can never be the 'be all and end all' of dieting. IIFYM is a great principle if you have already nailed down self discipline and healthy eating.
Protein is a macronutrient that contains 4 kcal per gram. It is known for being the muscle building macronutrient which makes it a huge pro to bodybuilders and athletes but also scares off a lot of average joe everyday users. People believe 'If I drink protein and don't train I will become fat' but then swap their protein shake for a high sugar milkshake which still contains protein because it's in most dairy based products but is less nutritionally beneficial and contains more calories giving you a legitimately higher chance of increasing body fat because you're now not training and drinking milkshakes and ohhhh it's a downward spiral.
So I guess that leads us on to our next important area to look at;
In particular quality, frequency and recovery.
Getting high quality training sessions in is actually very simple, it breaks down into some pretty easy rules to follow.
1) Good Form is a must. Don't load the muscle until it is ready as this will lead to injuries down the line and potential irreversible effects on the muscles, joints and body.
2) Go in with a plan. If you don't have a plan, they're easy to find. There's a few in our members area, tons on my instagram and millions on google. Heck, why not even go to google, type in your favourite muscley actor's name followed by 'workout plan' and train like them!
3) Progressive overload is the key to consistent gains. This is the process of writing down on each exercise; weight lifted, reps and how hard it was and using that data to get make sure next time you train that session, you match or improve on every exercise. This is a perfect way to guarantee improvements but it has to be paired with rule 1. Don't load a higher weight on the bar just because last week you managed to squeeze out a full set on the weight. Make sure you're lifting every weight with good form and to the rep range set before you up the weights.
Frequency and recovery are also vital things to master. Training often is great and another key to muscle growth, but training too much can actually reverse the positive effect. The body needs time to recover and so ideally don't train the same bodypart two days in a row and try rest at least two days a week.
Now once the above two are mastered we can start looking more in depth. A place I like to look next in clients is;
Supplements are a great tool and should be utilised safely once diet has been nailed. I'm not going to overdo it with the detail here for now as i'm going to do individual posts on each one. Here, in rough order of importance would be my supplement sheet for the average human wanting to really boost performance and muscle growth.
Creatine - Direct source of ATP which fuels our muscles.
Protein - Aids our muscle recovery, promotes muscle growth.
Multivitamins - Nutrients are your friend and chances are your diet isn't providing you with enough.
Caffeine - Pre workout consumption of caffeine can often lead to heavier weights lifted and allow you to focus better during workouts. However caffeine has a half life of 5 hours and so shouldn't really be consumed after 3/4pm if you want to get a decent night sleep.
ONE I TAKE BUT I'M NOT RECOMMENDING WITHOUT DOING YOUR OWN RESEARCH; Glucose Disposal Agents - Really good for older insulin resistance people or people consuming high amount of carbohydrates. Shuttles glycogen into the muscle and lowers blood sugar levels safely post carbohydrate consumption.
The Reason our coaching has been effective over the past few years is that we started to really focus on how different individuals are. Using test's like blood tests, biomechanical analysis, Intolerance tests etc we can now really look at you as an individual. Here are some things we think you should look into if you really want to have a in depth look at what's going on under the bonnet
Testosterone and Estradiol - Having a healthy level of both of these is important as they're both driving factors in muscle growth and recovery. More is not always better, especially when it comes to these hormones, instead we should be finding out what our levels are and making sure they're in a healthy range for our individual body. Addressing the underlying causes of this such as stress, poor sleep, excess alcohol or a poor diet, is crucial.
Micronutrients and cholesterol – to optimise your performance, keeping an eye on your cholesterol and making sure that your current diet that gives you the right balance of fats and also having optimal levels of micronutrients for muscle growth and performance are both important. A lot of people have sub-optimal vitamin D and iron levels, which can make it harder to build muscle. A simple blood test will tell you your levels of this and then you'll be able to manipulate the data easily using supplements.
Creatine kinase (CK) – CK is a breakdown product from muscle. If you are overtraining or not getting the intensity right, you can put way too much strain on your kidneys. Looking at your CK level can ensure you’re working out within your bounds. Kidney function is tied into CK, but also hydration. If your kidney function is low, it’s an indication that you need to drink more water in and around your workouts.
So to round this off I want to start by reiterating these are our tips for building muscle, NOT a beginners guide to training. It is advice and areas to look at for those who have already been training and have started to plateau. Obviously the tips are for you to pick and choose from but I have wrote this so that the order you read it in, is from best place to start making changes. I hope this helps and should you need any further information drop me a message or schedule a FREE health consultation call!
Next blog will be up within a week which will be: How much protein do we need to build muscle.
Till next time Fit Fam.
Yours in health,
Fit Food Sam.