5 Tips for Adding Muscle

By Lora Keleher , last updated November 25, 2011

Men and women looking to lose fat and build muscle should consider these five tips for adding muscle. Building muscle requires planning and technique, not simply increasing how often you work out, or how much food you consume. The workouts and dietary changes that can assist you with adding muscle can also help with weight loss, increase self-confidence, and provide overall health benefits.

Hit Muscle Fatigue

The bigger the weights you use, the bigger your muscles will become, right? Actually, a scientific study demonstrated that the size of the weights you lift isn’t a significant factor in how much muscle you’ll develop. Instead, focus on lifting weights until your muscles reach fatigue, or the point when you can’t do another rep. Hitting fatigue causes your muscles to develop new proteins, which are critical to building mass.

Rest Between Workouts

Is it true that working out as frequently as possible leads to bigger muscles and faster results? Not really. Although it seems that working out everyday would produce faster results, studies indicate that working out every other day and resting on off days is the best strategy to increase bulk. Muscles actually develop while resting, and the effect of an intense workout typically lasts 48 hours. Focus on upping the intensity of your workouts, rather than the frequency.

Vary Your Workouts

It’s called a workout routine, so shouldn’t it be, well, routine? After you’ve been following a routine for several weeks, your body becomes used to the workout and results begin to slow down or cease. To avoid this phenomenon, you should alter your routine every four to six weeks. You don’t have to drastically change your workouts, but you do need to make changes, such incorporating new exercises, increasing the number of sets or reps you perform, altering the amount of time you rest between sets, or changing the order in which you workout different muscle groups.

Schedule Your Meals

How important is diet to building muscle? It’s essential, but it’s not only what you consume, but also when you consume it that makes an impact. For example, drinking a shake loaded with whey protein prior to working out can increase protein synthesis at a much faster rate than drinking the same shake after a workout. As for meals, you should eat five to six small meals throughout the day, incorporating a protein-rich breakfast into your daily routine. Between your meals and protein shakes, you should consume around one gram of protein for each pound you weigh, on a daily basis. After you start working out, you should also increase your total caloric intake by about 500 calories per day.

Track Your Progress

You’re obviously after results, or you wouldn’t be working out. While you’ll probably notice if you wake up one morning with a six-pack, you may not observe the subtle, day-to-day changes that result from diet and exercise. If you don’t see results, you may be tempted to quit or cut back on the frequency of your workouts. By keeping a diet and exercise log to track your progress, you can stay motivated and continue to make improvements. You can also use the log to ensure that you’re varying your workouts regularly and consuming enough calories. If you’ve been working out for months, and aren’t making any progress, consider consulting with a professional trainer.

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