It’s gradually catching on, that you can no longer achieve the body of your dreams by just ‘doing cardiovascular’ fitness training alone! It does help and is a great starting point for those starting off, but you can get way more bang for your buck, getting it done in less time by getting in the weights section of the gym.
Fortunately, you don’t need equipment to get the desired effect; body weight resistance can be just as affective.
We have all got to start lifting resistance to help us move better, stand taller, supercharge our metabolism, prevent osteoporosis in later life, lose body fat, and ultimately, make us function at a higher level every day. I hate to break it to you, but you just can’t achieve that from running or walking (unless you are a genetic freak). Bottom line: you need to get your lift on!
Building muscle is one of the most popular fitness goals around. Not only does a strong, toned, muscular physique have aesthetic appeal; but the additional strength also has functional benefits, increases your metabolism, protects against injuries and much more. However, when it comes to actually building the muscle, many people limit their progress by making a few simple mistakes. Today, I’m going to help you avoid making these same mistakes and maximise your muscle growth by listing five of the best muscle building tips.
Tip 1: Use free weights
Weight machines do have their benefits, and when you’re just getting started with strength training, they’re a great way to learn the exercises and target certain muscle groups without having to worry about balancing the weights. However, if you’re relying solely on weight machines to build muscle, then you’re going to limit your muscle growth.
Free weights require you to balance the weights as you lift and, by doing this, they target additional muscles that weight machines cannot. Therefore, for maximum muscle growth, free weights need to be part of your strength training routine.
Tip 2: Incorporate both compound and isolation exercises
Compound exercises and isolation exercises are both essential for muscle building and have their own unique benefits. Compound exercises utilise multiple joints and muscle groups, and are great for building overall size and strength. Isolation exercises utilise single joints and muscle groups, and are great for focusing on specific muscles and strengthening weaker areas of your body.
Despite this, many people stick to just compound exercises or just isolation exercises, and stunt their muscle growth. Therefore, if you want to get the most out of your strength training, make sure your routine includes a mixture of compound exercises (such as chest presses and squats) and isolation exercises (such as bicep curls and tricep extensions).
Tip 3: Stick to a structured muscle building programme
Another big mistake people make when trying to build muscle is that they head to the gym and start lifting weights, but they don’t have any plan in place. At best, this will lead to uneven muscle development and, at worst, it will cause overtraining injuries. So, if you’re currently lifting weights or going to start soon but don’t have a plan in place, now is the time to make one.
To create a structured muscle building plan, start by choosing some exercises that hit all eight of your main muscle groups: biceps, chest, core, forearms, legs, shoulders, triceps, upper back and legs. If you’re struggling, a personal trainer will be able to help you with this, or you’ll be able to find plenty of suitable exercises online.
Once you have your list of exercises, you then need to decide how many days per week you can commit to strength training workouts, and divide the muscle groups across these days. So, if you can commit to three days per week, you’ll want to hit three muscle groups on two of the days, and two muscle groups on the third day. If you can commit to four days per week, you’ll want to hit two muscle groups during each workout.
Then, all you need to do is stick with this plan, be consistent, and you’ll enjoy maximum muscle growth.
Tip 4: Eat protein with every meal
Protein is an essential nutrient that builds, maintains and repairs your muscles. Therefore, if you’re trying to build more muscle, you need to be eating protein with every meal so that your body has the necessary fuel to build bigger, stronger muscles. To do this, make sure each meal contains plenty of fish or meat. These food groups generally contain between 20 percent and 30 percent protein, and by eating them regularly, you’ll keep your protein levels topped-up and support optimal muscle growth.
Tip 5: Sleep at least six hours per night
Sleep is very important when it comes to muscle growth. When you sleep, your body releases growth hormone which stimulates muscle growth and allows your muscles to recover and grow between workouts. However, getting less than six hours of quality sleep each night inhibits the release of growth hormone and prevents your muscle from recovering properly between workouts. So, if you’re serious about muscle growth but not currently getting at least six hours of sleep per night, start making some changes today, to ensure that you get enough sleep going forward.
Failing to incorporate all five of the muscle building tips above into your routine can seriously stunt your muscle growth. So, take another look at all five tips, start incorporating them today, and watch your muscles grow.