Muscle building is more than just about lifting weights. Your diet, sleep, recovery and more impact muscle growth just as much as your training. We’ll look at all these factors to help you build a solid foundation to support your muscular goals.
The three primary triggers of hypertrophy (muscle growth) are mechanical tension, muscle damage and metabolic response. Each of these can be triggered by increasing the intensity of your training through more reps, heavier weight or less rest time. Your body will respond by repairing the damaged tissue and by creating more mitochondria to help metabolize the new fuel. These responses will lead to increased muscle mass.
To stimulate the response that leads to muscle growth, you need to challenge your muscles with resistance training, such as weightlifting or bodyweight exercises like squats, push-ups and deadlifts. A great way to do this is by using the pyramid or ladder method of increasing your exercise load as you get stronger. This helps ensure that you are challenging yourself, but not so much that you risk injury or burn out.
You can also use a variety of different training techniques to target the various parts of your muscles and keep your training fresh. It’s important to use good form when you lift, as this prevents injuries and makes it easier to work hard. Make sure you have a good coach or trainer to teach you how to do these movements safely and effectively.
It’s also important to monitor your progress with a tape measure and through body composition testing every few months to see how you are growing. This will let you know how much of your gains are muscle and how much is fat. Aim to gain 0.5-1 pound per week, as studies show that this pace leads to fairly lean gains (studies here).
Another key component to building muscle is getting enough rest. It’s tempting to train everyday and blast your muscles as hard as possible, but that only gets you so far. The real magic happens when your muscles are at rest, and it’s during this process that they grow.
Another essential component of muscle building is eating plenty of nutrient-dense foods. Protein is king when it comes to muscle growth, so be sure you’re eating enough protein-rich foods, such as meat, fish, eggs and dairy. You should also aim to drink plenty of water, as this can help with muscle growth and recovery. build muscle