They say patience is a virtue, but when it comes to building muscle, who really wants to wait? Here are seven simple tips that can help you speed up the process to a more fit, more muscular frame …
1. Commit to the cause.
It’s GO time. Bring your A game. It’s do or die … No matter how many sports clichés we throw in here, the message is the same: it’s time to get serious! If you’re truly set on getting bigger, you can’t sit by and wait for a magic muscle-building wand to tap you on the shoulders. You need to train your mind, sacrifice your time, and commit to a consistent training program. So how much time are we talking? Aim to block out at least 30 minutes each day to focus on resistance training, with some cardio thrown in for good measure.
2. Rise with (or before) the crack of dawn.
Making room in your schedule for some serious training might seem daunting at first, but there are always ways to get the job done – like waking up early to train so it’s off your list before your day gets too busy. According to Business Insider, waking up early for exercise and other healthy habits is one thing that sets highly successful people apart from the rest. Just ask Apple CEO, Tim Cook, who wakes up at 3:45 a.m. each day to get a head start on his emails. If just the thought of hearing your alarm at 3:45 makes you cringe, we get it. Try instead for a 5:00 or 6:00 a.m. start, depending on when you go to work or school. It’ll be painful at first, but will become second nature before you know it.
3. Lift heavier.
The only thing worse than not going to the gym is showing up and just going through the motions. To get building, you’re going to have to get lifting. Heavy, that is. Each time you challenge your muscles with a heavier weight, you force them to work harder. In doing so, your muscle fibers break down and you expend extra calories. But fear not; your precious muscles are safe. Once your workout is done, you can restore those broken-down muscle fibers with proper nutrition and adequate rest. In no time, they’ll be ready to train again – and possibly perform better than before. The idea is to lift increasingly heavier weights as the weeks go by. As you do, your body will adapt by increasing its strength. And the stronger you body becomes, the bigger your muscles will grow.
Just make sure to use slow, controlled movements. If your lifting starts to look sloppy or you need to cheat your way through the motion, you’re lifting too heavy. Drop down to a lower weight and finish your reps with more quality than quantity.
Don’t forget to train your legs. Not only do you not want to be the dubious owner of a pair of chicken legs, neglecting your lower body creates imbalance in your physique. Alternatively, training your legs with compound exercises (like squats, which recruit muscles from your whole body) can do wonders for your overall size and strength – even in your upper body.
4. Keep your workouts short, but intense.
Think of your workouts as a powerful sprint versus a long, drawn-out marathon. You have a job to do (build muscle) and you want to do it fast. In the best interest of your time and your results, we advise keeping your workouts down to one hour in length, max. You can tack on more time if you’re adding some cardio after, but you shouldn’t need more than 60 minutes to run through a weight-training session. The intensity of your workouts is always more important than the length of them. Keep in mind, intensity refers to both mental and physical fortitude. Showing up focused and alert (versus distracted by a recent fight with your girlfriend) is just as important as how physically capable you are.
So how can you increase your exercise intensity? Simple. Option 1 – take shorter rests in between sets. That means no five-minute chats at the water cooler. Option 2 – increase your weights or pump out more reps until you reach failure … that point at which you can’t lift anymore. If you really want to go all out, combine Option 1 and 2.
5. Know when to take a break.
This might seem contrary to point #4, but knowing when to rest is just as important as upping your intensity. Doing too much – especially when you’re a newbie – can backfire on you. Overtraining or lifting too heavy can cause excessive soreness, which may keep you from the gym and eventually cause you to quit. So, take a rest day when needed and let your tired muscles recoup.
This goes for at nighttime, too. Recovery is imperative for muscle growth, and one of the best ways to recover is to get a decent night’s sleep. We’re talking a solid seven to eight hours of uninterrupted shut-eye. When you first start training, you may even need more than this, as your body adjusts to all that extra effort in the gym. As you slowly drift into la-la-land, your body will start replenishing its energy stores and rebuilding broken-down muscles. All this repair work will pay off as you show up that much stronger for your next workout.
6. Shake things up post-workout.
If your body could talk, it would beg you for high-protein nutrition right after a strenuous workout. That’s because it needs protein to help rebuild and repair those broken-down muscles we’ve been talking about. Protein also helps recover the calories you expended during training. Within th
at first hour after your workout, make sure to drink a high-protein, moderate-carb shake to help fuel protein synthesis and prevent protein breakdown. Your goal is to build new muscle while preserving any existing muscle you’ve already worked so hard for. Consuming a high-protein shake also has the added benefit of adding fluids to your system – plus a whole array of essential vitamins and minerals – so you don’t get dehydrated.
7. Don’t use exercise as an excuse to eat garbage.
So, you’ve hit the gym already today. Good stuff. Now don’t let that one hour of intense training give you permission to eat anything and everything under the sun. People do this all the time. They think that when they work out, they can go to town on all their favorite foods. Surely the workout will make up for it, right? Not so, my friend. If anything, training should give you more incentive to eat right. Your body doesn’t just beg for high-quality nutrition after the gym – it needs it throughout the day. If you constantly feed it junk food laced with sugar and fat, you may as well kiss muscle growth goodbye. Yes, you need to eat more often throughout the day if you’re working out. But no, you don’t need your diet to be a steady influx of donuts.
And that, folks, is how it’s done. With these seven simple tips, you should be packing more muscle in no time!
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Disclaimer: This content is for informational purposes only and is not meant as medical advice, nor is it to diagnose or treat any medical condition. Please consult your physician before starting or changing your diet or exercise program. Any use of this information is at the sole discretion and responsibility of the user.