From Scrawny to Brawny: Muscle Building
Written by: Emma Anius
So you’ve been going to the gym for about 6 months trying to put on muscle and still not seen any hope of a bicep or even a 2-pack showing up. No doubt by now you are highly demotivated and thinking that maybe its just not meant to be. Don’t give up hope just yet! To build muscle, it does take time, determination and there is a particular method to follow to get the best results.
Muscles only grow when they have been stressed to a certain point. This means if you lift a light weight you do not challenge yourself at all, even if you lift it one hundred times. Sounds like basic knowledge right? But a lot of people lift weights over 50 times in hopes of gaining muscle.
To put stress on the muscle for it to develop, you must use a weight you can only lift approximately 8-10 times before you are no longer able to lift it. If you can lift it well in excess of this amount you need to up the load.
If you are one of those guys that has always been skinny and never been able to put on weight then you know the frustration of bodybuilding with this body type.
Body shape does have a lot to do with the ease at which you put on muscle, but no fears- if you’re super skinny you can still build muscle if you follow the right techniques.
If you are skinny or have a smaller build and find it difficult to put on muscle you need a way of gaining enough energy to fuel the muscle growth you are looking for. You can do this by simply eating more calories, as this would give your body the energy to sustain muscle growth. Although just eating more sounds like a fun idea, you need to fill yourself with the ‘right’ types of foods to get the nutrients you need for muscle growth as well as avoiding the foods that inhibit increasing muscle mass.
Eating about five or six meals a day of the right types of foods should ensure you keep the body fueled and satisfy your energy requirements for rest and activity plus a lot more for muscle building- eating complex carbohydrates such as bread, rice or potatoes is good for this. High protein foods such as chicken, fish, peanuts, cheese or lentils, are also essential for gaining muscle as these types of foods promote tissue growth and repair, which is essential when trying to build muscle. You also need to eat foods that promote testosterone like broccoli, as testosterone is the body’s muscle-building hormone.
You should also never underestimate the power of rest, as this is the only time your body gets a chance to recover and build. People often don’t factor this into their normal workout routine because they don’t see the importance. Your body does not build muscle when you lift weights nor does it build muscle when you eat, that is just fueling the body for the final muscle growth phase. When you are sleeping or relaxing is when the body has the time and energy to create and add mass to the body.
Getting the full-recommended 8 hours sleep every night is imperative to muscle building, this is because muscle-building growth hormones are released when you sleep well and deeply. You should also not go to the gym every day or even every second day if you are working out with a high intensity as you may suffer overtraining which will do more harm than good in the long run.
Keep this in mind and take full advantage of this phase of putting on muscle because you will get great results this way and see the difference you’ve been waiting for.
Looking after your body is the key to healthy living.
If you have no time to exercise or don’t know where to begin:
Beginner (2 min rest in-between sets)
Squats x 3 sets- medium weight, bench press x 3 sets- medium weight, pull-ups x 3 sets, push ups x 10, barbell curls x 3 sets- medium weight
Advanced (lower rest in-between sets)
Squats x 3 sets- high weight, bench press x 3 sets- high weight, pull-ups x 3 sets, push ups x 10, barbell curls x 3 sets- high weight
Note: Emma Anius is a Personal Trainer for Cyan Fitness promoting a ‘healthy life and a better you.’