Building muscle mass is a process requiring determination, patience and the desire to succeed. But to be successful, you should know these three things before embarking on your bodybuilding journey:
You have to eat more calories to gain muscle
Overloading your muscles builds mass
In the process of building muscle, you’ll also gain some fat.
It stands to reason that if you want to build muscle mass, you have to consume more calories. Let’s use the analogy of a car. If you know you can go a certain distance on 10 gallons of fuel and you want to go further, you have to add more fuel. Your body is the same way. With your current consumption of food, you’ll only get so much muscle mass. If you want to get bigger, then you have to consume more calories, but not just any calories.
Focus eating complex carbohydrates, protein and healthy fats. This includes whole grains, lean meats and unsaturated fats, respectively.
Overloading Your Muscles
To build muscle mass, you have to have two things – enough good calories to provide the necessary fuel and exercise routines that work your muscles harder than they are used to being worked – called progressive overload. Simply put, when your muscles get accustomed to the amount of work you are asking out of them, you have to add more work if you want to see gains. The best way to accomplish progressive overload is through resistance training of which weight training works the best. With weight training, it is easy to keep adding on weight, thus further taxing your muscles.
Gaining Fat in the Process
Like it or not, when you train to gain muscle quickly, most people will also gain some body fat in the process. Usually the rate is for every 4 pounds of muscle mass gain, you’ll also gain 1 to 2 pounds of fat.
Of course the way around this is to gain muscle at a very slow rate, but if you are training for a competition, you may not have the time to spare. So what do you do? Gain the muscle mass and fat and deal with the fat periodically while building muscle. Confused? Let me explain.
After about 6 months of building muscle, switch to a fat burning cardio/strength training routine to burn off the extra accumulated fat while still maintaining the muscle you gained. Some form of cardio should be done 3-6 days per week, and alternated between longer, slow-duration cardio and HIIT cardio.
Specifically, your routine should include a low number of sets, walking on an inclined treadmill at 3.5 to 4 mph for 45 minutes is an ideal form of the longer-duration cardio which should be performed on weight-training days and reducing your caloric intake by 500 calories per day.
Performing one or two sets per day will maintain muscle mass and increase strength. The inclined treadmill gives you the ability to make the cardio more challenging once you sense it is getting easier. Reducing calories makes your body reach into the fat stores for energy thus burning off fat.
Now you not only know how to build muscle mass, but what to expect along the way and how to deal with it. Good luck and keep lifting!