Finding It Hard to Build Muscle?
Want to learn how to build muscle in 9 minutes? ...
... Forget it.
Success in anything worthwhile doesn't come easy or quickly, and that's particularly true when it comes to building muscle.
How long does it take to build muscle depends on the individual. For some people building muscle comes naturally, but they are in the minority.
If you're like me, you find it hard to put on any muscle, despite spending several hours in the gym a week. Luckily for you, I have spent the last 15 years figuring out what works and what doesn’t so you don’t have to - so here are 9 tips for how to build more muscle - the right way...
1. Learn That Fat Is Your Friend
Fat gets a pretty bad rep these days, as people assume that eating any kind of fat will make them, well… fat!
While this is understandable, it is not necessarily the case. If building muscle is your goal, then fat is your friend, not foe. Fat can allow you to bulk up as it reduces the amount of wasted glucose and amino acids in beginners.
This will allow your body to access greater quantities of glucose and those all-important muscle building amino acids.
Fat also simulates your hormone production, which increases your levels of testosterone (a hormone) which allows you to build body mass (1).
2. Eat More Healthy Fats
So now you know fat is not the enemy and is in fact vital for you to build muscle. But not all fats are created equal, and you’ll find some of the best fats in olive oil, beef and nuts.
Beef is particularly good as not only is it a rich source of good fats, but also protein and cholesterol which supports the production of testosterone (2).
3. Eat More Often
Rather than having 3 large meals a day, you should divide your meals into 2-3 hour intervals.
This will enable you to eat 5-6 times daily, which provides your body with continuous nutrient circulation, providing much-needed nourishment to those fatigued muscles of yours.
Its important to learn how to count macros here too, as you will need to know how much nutrients you are actually getting each day.
Macronutrients are made up of carbs, proteins and fats, and at its simplest, you can calulate the macros of a given meal using the details below:
- Carbs provide 4 calories per gram and typically make up the largest portion of people’s calorie intake.
- Fats have the most calories of all macronutrients, providing 9 calories per gram.
- Similar to carbs, proteins provide 4 calories per gram.
So if your meal had 100 grams of carbs, 20 grams of protein and 10 grams of fat then you can calculate the total calories like so:
Carbs: 100 * 4 = 400 calories
Protein: 20 * 4 = 80 calories
4 = 80 calories
By eating more often (and learning how to calculate macros and tracking accordingly) - this approach prompts your body to produce more growth hormone, which (as the same suggests) allows your body to grow faster in response to resistance training.
By eating smaller meals more often, you will actually end up eating more throughout the day, and this will serve to supercharge your muscle growth and energy levels (2).
4. Harness the Power of the Almighty Growth Hormone
I mentioned this incredibly powerful hormone above, this allows your body to build muscle, reduce fatty mass and enhances the growth factor known as 1(IGF-1) which works in much the same way as insulin. So how do you harness it?
Well you already are, as your body increases the release of growth hormone when you exercise and when you sleep. But if you really want to get the best results, then supplementing with 7-10 grams of arginine (which is an amino acid) before exercising can increase growth hormone levels during your sleep even further.
5. Boost Progress Using Carbohydrates
Now that you’ve made friends with fat, it’s time to start being nice to carbs. Another common misconception is that carbs will also make you fat… again not necessarily! Carbs are essential in order to build quality muscle and achieve maximum growth.
This is because carbs when consumed, will transform into glucose in your body, which is then stored as temporary fuel. The surplus glucose is then stored as muscle glycogen, which is stored energy within your body which will influence your recovery and overall strength reserves.
Your insulin levels are also increased by carbs, which is a vital hormone that stores amino acids in the muscle tissue of your body.
However, the myth that carbs will always make you fat didn’t come from nowhere. If you have far too much carbs then your body will produce excess amounts of glycogen, which your body will store as fat, so its important to know how many carbs to build muscle is actually necessary for you.
6. Increase Your Testosterone Levels
As you train, your testosterone levels increase and your testosterone receptors within your muscles become stronger and more robust. Overtime however, these heightened hormone levels can decrease which can hinder your progress. An effective counter for this is to use a Tribulus supplement.
Tribulus terestris is a herb known to raise natural testosterone levels, and an intake of just 250 - 300 mg. prior to training and sleep can enhance the luteinizing hormone, which enhances testosterone production.
As a rule, correct nutrition is the main factor to muscle building success, but enhancing the amount of these hormones is a close second, so focusing on these factors together is a winning success formula for building muscle (3).
7. Use the Power of Powder
Quality protein power is a powerful ally when building muscle, and this is because powder is more easily absorbed than solid food, such as steak or chicken. So it is a good idea to replace some of your solid meals with protein powder.
A good approach I use is a 50/50 split, so if I eat 6 times a day, then 3 of these meals are in powder form.
It’s best not to get carried away here though. Natural solids are still the cornerstone of progress, so don’t opt for a supplements only approach. As the name suggests, these are designed to supplement your natural diet, not completely replace it.
8. Maximise Protein Intake
You’re most likely aware that protein is essential in building muscle, and this is because your body uses protein to produce amino acids which your body then uses to repair muscle damage, allowing the muscles to grow.
But how much protein per day do you need?.,.
... A general rule of thumb is that for every pound of body weight, you should consume 1 gram of protein. If you’re really having a hard time recovering from a particularly brutal routine, then by all means increase this to 1.5 grams per pound, which will boost your recovery and stimulate growth.
9. Use Creatine Supplements
Energy is the most important factor in performing a powerful muscle contraction and without it, your muscles simply can’t function properly. As we have already discussed, glycogen is a key source of energy which comes from carbohydrates.
Creatine can act as a secondary energy source by replenishing adenosine triphosphate, which is the primary energy component in muscle contraction. So in other words, creatine increases your strength in addition to protein synthesis (where cells generate new proteins for growth and recovery).
By using just 5 grams before and after training, you will increase your strength levels and simulate growth (4).
So if you're really interested in building muscle, then I would definitely recommend supplementing with a premium quality creatine supplement.
Eat more healthy fats and eat more often (get plenty of carbs and protein in powder form too), take advantage of natural growth hormone, up those testosterone levels and finally - use creatine supplements.
... Want to know how to reduce muscle fatigue after a hectic workout? Then click the link below:
- PubMed: 'Dietary Intake of Competitive Bodybuilders'
- PubMed: 'Macronutrient considerations for the sport of bodybuilding'
- PubMed: 'The function of androgen/androgen receptor and insulin growth factor‑1/insulin growth factor‑1 receptor on the effects of Tribulus terrestris extracts in rats undergoing high-intensity exercise'
- PubMed: 'The effects of pre versus post workout supplementation of creatine monohydrate on body composition and strength'