Many gym fanatics and amateurs want to get bigger, stronger and leaner. It would be very difficult to acquire all three at once, unless you are a newcomer and you will be able to have initial progress in all of them simultaneously. However, as you go forward you will notice that it would be extremely difficult to continuously improve in all three aspects, however you can further make improvements in bulking up and your strength.
Here is a list of things you need to consider when planning to put on some serious muscle mass:
• Proper weight training/resistance training (volume, intensity, frequency, exercise selection, tempo, etc.).
• High energy intake (energy balance, timing, macronutrients, micronutrients, meal frequency, supplements, etc.).
Remember your progress will also depend on your genetics, some people will be able to have significant improvement in gaining muscle mass easily, where other will need to put a lot of effort to get same results. There should be a fine balance between high energy diet and progressive muscle overload.
Gradual increase of stress placed upon the body during training session will enable you to achieve progressive overload. Yes, it is important to train hard, but it is even more important to train smart. I’m sure you know some people who go to the gym and don’t train wisely, they may spend a lot of time working out but without a noticeable progress neither in strength nor in the body appearance. To make improvement in muscular mass, strength and endurance you need to continually increase stress on your muscular skeleton and nervous system.
This can be achieved in numerous ways:
• Increase resistance/weight (from 20kg to 30kg, 40kg and so on)
• Increase number of sets (from 2 sets to 3 sets, 4 sets and so on)
• Increase number of repetitions (from 8 reps to 9 reps, 10 reps and so on)
• Increase intensity/decrease rest periods (from 60 sec to 50 sec, 40 sec and so on)
• Increase number of exercises (from 5 exercises to 6 exercises, 7 exercises and so on)
• Increase frequency/how often you train (from 3 sessions to 4 sessions, 5 session and so on)
A fine balance and combination needs to be established between above variables to provide gradual overload. I personally suggest you leave your ego outside the gym and take weights that are suitable for you, ensuring you have control over weight throughout the exercise. You are not in competition with anybody else in the gym, therefore focus on you own progress. Also, I would like to emphasis on having a proper form, technique and use full range of motion when performing exercises as this way you will prevent injuries and activate more muscle fibers in every single repetition. As mentioned already in our previous article, you may be able to see better results from your workouts when building your training plan around compound exercises using free weights. You don’t have to confuse your muscles with all sort of different exercises, you may find that using fewer effective exercises will give you more benefit than having different exercises every session. By overtraining your muscles you will gain muscle growth, thus train your muscles more frequently.
You need to have a strategic approach with energy intake surplus. It will depend on how aggressive you want to go, but having around 10% energy surplus would put you in a good starting position. If you have insufficient and wrong nutrients to build new muscle from you won’t have significant improvement. And on the other side if your energy intake is far beyond your energy expenditure and required “materials” for muscle building, you would be laying down some excessive body fat. You may need to get professional assistance in establishing your daily energy intake together with daily energy expenditure as there is no one size fits all approach here. A list of factors to consider when putting a nutrition plan is outlined below:
• Energy balance (having adequate surplus of energy intake, e.g. number of kilojoules/calories per day).
• Timing (it is crucial to have it build around your training session to get the best out of each session).
• Macronutrients (define the ration between carbohydrates, protein and fats).
• Micronutrients (having enough vitamins and minerals to support your body systems).
• Meal frequency (try to eat more frequently with smaller portions than having big portions 1-2 times a day).
• Supplements (it is used to supplement your food intake, but don’t base your energy intake around them).
Subjective nutrition summary is to:
• have surplus of 10-15% in energy intake
• have as a minimum 3 proper meals (breakfast, lunch and dinner) and 2 small meal (pre-workout and post-workout).
• having most meals prepared at home ensuring macronutrient and micronutrient requirements are met.
• having around 1.5-2g of protein per kg of the body weight.
• having whey isolate as a post-workout meal.
• having multi-vitamin/amino acids daily on periodical basis.
• having sufficient amount of water throughout the day.
Remember, recovery after the sessions plays big role in muscle growth and your performance in the next session. Use the information provided above to make significant improvement in size and muscle mass, and if you going to be consistent and adherent to these rules you will be able to see a noticeable improvement not only in your muscle mass but also in strength. But my advice to you would be to seek an expert who would be able to build a progressive program that is customized to you, complimented by a well-balanced high energy diet.
By beFitness team.
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