Most people think that to build muscle, they must first lose the weight on top of those muscles. This idea of “weight loss” has been promoted by the fitness industry as the ultimate end goal.
However, modern fitness coaches and health experts are finally acknowledging that the opposite is true. Whether you want to bulk up or slim down, resistance training is key. No amount of cardio will give you larger biceps or a toned tummy.
That being said, building muscle isn’t always as easy as it seems. There is a right and wrong way to exercise for muscle gain. If you’ve been doing the same exercises in the gym for months and aren’t seeing progress, chances are you simply don’t have the right knowledge. Keep reading about how you can build muscle and get bigger by simply changing up your routine.
1 Busting Fitness Myths
There are two major myths in the fitness industry that need busting before one can start gaining muscle. Those two myths are regarding cardio and diet.
The first is the age-old belief that cardio helps you build muscle. This couldn’t be further from the truth. Cardio does have immense value in promoting heart health and endurance, but it does nothing to increase muscle gain.
The second myth is that carbohydrates cause weight gain and therefore must be avoided. Bodybuilders have always known this to be false, but the average person looking to gain muscle might not. The truth is that weight gain is caused by a slow metabolism.
If you have a slow metabolism, cutting out carbs and fats could, in fact, make you gain weight rather than lose it. It will certainly do nothing to help you gain muscle.
2 Tips for Gaining Muscle and Getting Bigger
- Lift for Hypertrophy
Hypertrophy is a fancy word for muscle volume growth. You want to be training in such a way that your muscles can break down and then build back up during recovery. Learning how much exercise per week you should be doing is incredibly important, as everyone has different limits.
- Limit Your Training Days
When it comes to gaining muscle, more isn’t always better. Lifting for hypertrophy will only be effective if you give your body time to recover between workouts.
For those who are determined to hit the gym every single day, it’s highly recommended to do a different muscle group each day. However, an optimal schedule would be a full-body workout three times per week.
- Eat More Protein
If you are lifting for hypertrophy and regularly breaking down your muscles, your muscles won’t simply build back up on their own. They need protein. In fact, it’s recommended to consume as much protein as possible for weight gain.
This doesn’t mean you should have a giant steak for every meal. There are plenty of vegetables and grains that also contain high amounts of protein. A well-rounded meal will have red meat, chicken, or fish, along with carbs and a variety of vegetables.
- Get Enough Sleep
A tragic amount of people rely on stimulants like coffee, energy drinks, and pre-workout powders to give them motivation for their workouts. While consuming caffeine in moderation can be beneficial, it can never replace the health benefits of a good night’s sleep.
The average person needs between 6 to 8 hours of sleep. If you are regularly active, try shooting for 8. If you don’t give your body the proper time to recover, your muscles won’t recover as quickly or at all. While you sleep, the body releases human growth hormones to repair the damage it endured the day before. If you are getting enough sleep and consuming enough protein, this process will happen more quickly and effectively.
- Create a Calorie Surplus, Not a Deficit
No matter what your fitness goals are, the worst thing you can do is restrict your calories. The human body is an amazing machine, and its only goal is to stay alive. If you remain in a caloric deficit for any long period of time, your metabolism will actually slow down to accommodate the lack of fuel.
During this process, your body will actually take protein from your muscles to use as fuel. That’s the LAST thing you want if you are trying to gain muscle. Therefore, in order to ensure muscle growth, you need to give your body more calories than it needs.
By lifting for hypertrophy, your muscles will be under more stress than the body is used to. This means that the body will need more than the normal amount of calories and protein to rebuild the muscles. Doctors recommend consuming between 250 and 500 extra calories a day, mostly from protein.
It’s also important to remember that your calorie intake should increase as your muscles grow. Muscle burns more fuel than fat, and your metabolism will increase along with your muscle mass. Treat your body well and give it what it needs.
- Listen to Your Body
While strength training is for muscle growth, it’s incredibly important to take the slow approach and listen to your body. The phrase “no pain, no gain” has caused an immense amount of damage to the general psyche.
For instance, In high school sports, students are taught to regularly push their bodies past their limits at the behest of coaches who are more concerned with keeping their jobs than with their students’ long-term health.
In reality, if you’re sore for days after your workout, it means your muscles aren’t recovering properly. Rather than wearing your pain as a badge of honor, adjust your weights and reps so your muscles can handle the load in their current state.
3 Muscle Growth for Overall Fitness
Bodybuilding is an admirable sport that requires discipline, responsibility, and motivation. However, gaining 30 pounds of muscle mass won’t do you much good if you can’t run half a block or touch your toes.
Gaining muscle is very important for a healthy lifestyle, but only if it’s integrated into a well-rounded fitness journey. Always remember to include endurance and flexibility training in your workout routines. You’ll feel more alert, more energized, and much more likely to stick to your strength training routine.