Do you want to develop your tone and muscle mass, but don’t know how? We tell you everything. You’ve probably heard that you should incorporate strength training into your exercise routine. Still, free weights can seem a lot scarier than walking or jogging in your neighborhood. While results aren’t always quick, by implementing a solid weight training routine you should see noticeable muscle gains within weeks to months.
Read on to learn more about how muscle is built, what foods support a strong body, and what you can do to get started.
How do muscles grow?
Skeletal muscle is the most adaptable tissue in your body. When you do extreme exercise like lifting weights, your muscle fibers experience trauma or what is called muscle damage. When your muscles are injured like this, satellite cells outside the muscle fibers are activated. It tries to repair the damage by grouping and thus increasing the muscle fiber.
Some hormones also help your muscles grow. They control the satellite cells and are responsible for, among others, the following:
– sending cells to the muscles after exercise
– formation of new blood capillaries
– repair of muscle cells
– control of muscle mass
For example, resistance movements help your body release growth hormone from the pituitary gland. The amount released depends on the intensity of the exercise you have been doing. Growth hormone kickstarts your metabolism and helps convert amino acids into muscle-building proteins.
How to effectively build muscle for gaining muscle mass
You don’t have to spend all day in the gym to build muscle. 20 to 30 minutes of strength training 2 to 3 times a week is enough to achieve results. You should try to target all major muscle groups at least twice during your weekly workout.
Even if the results don’t appear immediately, a single weight training session can promote muscle growth. Exercise stimulates what is called protein synthesis within 2 to 4 hours after the workout. Your levels can stay high for up to an entire day.
How exactly do you know your muscles are growing?
You may be able to see more muscle definition. If not, you will definitely be able to lift heavier weights with more ease over time.
Strength training activities include:
– bodyweight exercises such as push-ups, squats and lunges
– movements with resistance bands
– exercises with free weights or even objects
– training with stationary strength machines, such as rowing machines
When lifting weights, you should aim to do 8 to 15 repetitions in a row. It’s a series. Take a minute to rest between sets. Then do another set with the same duration. Hold for about 3 seconds before lifting or pushing the weight back into place. Then hold this position for a full second and wait again for 3 seconds before lowering the weight.
The goal is to lift weights, also called resistance, that are heavy enough to challenge you. A good guideline is to choose a weight that will tire your muscles after 12 to 15 reps or repetitions. If the weights seem too easy for you, try gradually increasing the weights to the next level.
Even one set of 12 reps with a fairly heavy weight can help build muscle, compared to 3 sets with a lighter weight. Learn more about the benefits of lifting heavy weights.
Why rest is important when you want to gain muscle mass
When starting a strength training program, it is important to let your body rest. If you don’t take rest days, you risk injuring yourself and having to take a break from physical activity, slowing your progress. Experts recommend not doing strength training on the same muscle group two days in a row.
Do women build muscle at the same rate as men?
Men and women build muscle differently. Testosterone plays an important role in muscle development. Although both sexes have testosterone in their bodies, men have higher amounts of this hormone. However, studies have shown that men and women respond similarly to strength training.
Muscle growth is also affected by:
– body size
– body composition
Overall, the most noticeable changes in muscle mass tend to occur in people of both sexes, who have more muscle mass to begin with.
Cardio and muscle gain: does it work?
Aerobic exercise, also called cardio, increases your heart rate and breathing rate. It will strengthen your cardiovascular system. You may have heard that too much cardio is bad for building muscle. Current research shows that this is not necessarily the case. Aerobic exercise can actually promote muscle growth, muscle function, and overall exercise capacity. These effects are particularly noted in the elderly and previously sedentary patients.
The sweet spot for promoting muscle growth through cardio has everything to do with intensity, duration, and frequency. Exercise at an intensity of 70-80% heart rate reserve (HRR) in 30-45 minute sessions, 4-5 days a week. You can determine FCR by subtracting your resting heart rate from your maximum heart rate. Cardio and resistance exercises will keep your body and heart healthy and strong.
Diet and muscle gain
The foods you eat can also help you build muscle. In particular, protein intake plays an important role in muscle supply. How much protein should you consume? The current recommended dose is about 0.8 grams (g) per kilogram (kg) of body weight each day if you are over 19 years old.
For example, a woman weighing 68 kg needs about 54 grams of protein per day. (68 kg x 0.8 g = 54.5 g.) A man weighing 82 kg, on the other hand, needs about 66 grams of protein per day. (82 kg x 0.8 g = 65.6 g.)
Don’t know what to eat? Look for protein-rich foods that are also high in the amino acid leucine. You can find leucine in animal products such as:
dairy products such as cheese
Non-animal sources of protein include foods such as:
That’s good, you can start your muscle building program
The first step may be to visit a local gym and consult with a personal trainer. Many gyms offer free sessions as part of a membership promotion. A personal trainer can help you master proper form with free weights, weight machines and more. Proper form is essential to avoid injury.
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