- Eat sufficient Protein
Eat between 1.6g and 2.2g of protein per kg of body weight dependent on your goals and bodies response. At least 30% of your daily calories will need to come from quality protein sources.
- Become a Failure
They say one of the keys to business success is a willingness to fail. This is perhaps even more so in fitness and muscle building. Training works best when it’s intense and pushes the muscles to their limits. If you’re not failing in your last reps of a set or at least by the last exercise in your session, then you may not be pushing hard enough. If you reach failure in weight training, it’s a sign you’ve hit the muscle hard and it’s a good chance you’ve really hit the muscle fibres. Go to failure then recover.
- Spread Protein Intake through the day
The body can only process so much protein at any one time. Spread your protein intake across the day in ideally 25 – 40g per meal.
- Eat you Spinach (and other vegetables)
While eating spinach alone won’t make your muscles pop like Popeye, adding lots of quality vegetables particularly dark green kinds like broccoli, kale and spinach will help you get the nutrients you need without too many calories.
- Eat Some Carbs
If you’re trying to build muscle, you will need some quality carbohydrates to give you energy for workouts and replenish lost nutrients afterwards. Aim for quality less refined carbs with low sugar like oats, rice, rye and wholemeal pasta.
- Don’t Cut Calories Too Much
Don’t underestimate the calories you need. In order to build muscle you will need to be in calorie surplus. If you’re struggling to gain and eating plenty of protein, try adding some quality unsaturated fats and/or carbohydrate calories to your diet.
- Lift Heavy Weights For Lower Reps
If you’re finding your current training isn’t giving you the results you want and assuming you are eating and recovering correctly, try increasing weights and lowering reps. This can help stimulate strength gains. Although, it’s important to always lift with good form to avoid risk of injury.
- Drink Plenty Of Water
Drink plenty of water through the day to ensure you don’t get dehydrated and suffer physical and mental fatigue.
- Don’t Remove All Fats
Don’t cut out fat completely, fat has more calories, but there are some high quality fats found in foods like avocados, nuts, egg yolks and oily fish contain essential nutrients for your body. Aim for no less than 20% of your MACROs from good unsaturated fats.
- Avoid Poor Quality Calories
It may seem obvious, but avoid eating unhealthy foods and snacks. Foods with high levels of refined sugars, trans fats and poor quality proteins will just increase bad calories, provide limited nourishment and won’t particularly help your body’s energy levels.
- Ensure Your Stimulating All The Muscle Fibres
Muscle building is about breaking down the fibres through training and then helping them to recover and grow stronger/better. Ensure your form is good and you work in different weight and rep ranges to activate all of the muscle fibres.
- Use Compound Exercises
Make sure you do lots of core compound, multi-joint movements in your workouts like deadlifts, squats, benchpress, military press, pull ups, etc… Research shows that these types of exercises are best for developing overall strength and muscle.
- Try BCAAs
Research has shown Branch Chain Amino Acids to be a safe supplement. They can help avoid the breakdown of muscle by ensuring there are enough of the right amino acids in your body for training. Although it’s worth noting that these amino acids can be gained through eating good quality protein rich foods so they are a supplement not a replacement. BCAAs are often seen as particularly useful when trying to reduce fat and lean out. Ie. helping to avoid the loss of muscle during diet where calorie intake is lower (calorie deficit).
Having a supplement of Zinc, Magnesium Aspirate and Vitamin B6 before bedtime can help improve sleep for recovery and is also known to help in supporting natural Human Growth Hormone (HGH).
- Train, Recover, Repeat
Ensure you are training intensely and recovering enough. Research suggests that it can take up to 14 days to recover fully from an intense workout all things considered. However, as a general rule of thumb you can resume exercising the same muscle group safely after 48 hours. Note for most of us mere mortals training larger muscles like the back, it’s advisable to leave more time between sessions as it can take a week for large muscles to recover. In addition, big moves like squats and deadlifts can impact your nervous system so again, a week is probably best in most cases unless you are working with relatively low weights. In all cases, try to listen to your body. It’s ok to feel tired and a bit sore from training and active recovery can be beneficial, but it shouldn’t be pain or impacting your life and health negatively. If it is, ease off, rest more and ensure your nutrition is on point.
- Avoid Over Training
Training intensely is not enough. You have to give your body a chance to recover. If you train hard, eat whatever you want, party hard and get limited sleep eventually it will catch up on you. Train within your ability to recover. That doesn’t mean you shouldn’t train intensely, but if you’re having trouble sleeping (the right amount of training should help you sleep better not worse), feeling ill regularly it may be a sign your over training. Also, if it doesn’t feel right, check with your Doctor.
- Eat Less Frequently
You may find eating more less frequently helps you to build muscle. A lot of the fitness advice out there regularly promotes eating many 5-6 small meals per day to lean out, particularly as it’s known to speed up the metabolism. If you want to gain more muscle you can try eating 4 larger meals per day or 3 larger meals and one small snack through the day. However, it’s important to note that for most of us quality and quantity of calories is key. You need to eat enough that your in surplus to build muscle and it’s important that those calories are 30% or more protein. Classic Bodybuilding ratios are 40% Protein 40% Carbs and 20% Fat with a calorie intake in excess of what you burn through exercise and your basal metabolic rate (resting calorie burn which is dependant on a number of factors including size and genetics).
- Sleep and Rest
Amazingly little is really known about why we sleep, but what we do know is we need it for our bodies to recover. Many athletes swear by it and 9 – 12 hours of sleep is not uncommon for an athlete. You may not be training at their level, but it doesn’t mean the whole of your day doesn’t wear you out. If you want to build muscle, try increasing your sleep time at night or with daily naps.
- Pre-Workout Coffee
There are lots of supplements out their claiming to be magic potions to boost your workout. Most of them contain caffeine. No harm in trying one of these supplements from a tested and reliable source, but if your looking for a natural boost to supercharge your workouts, try coffee.
- Green Tea
Known for it’s healthy anti-oxidants, Green Tea is also found to aid fat loss. It also contains some caffeine so is a great natural alternative to a cup of coffee.