It’s important to remember that there are no shortcuts when your health is concerned. The same goes for gaining lean muscle mass or ‘bulking up’. Here’s some insight and advice from celebrity personal trainer Lucas James and nutrition expert and trainer Jason Apfel on maximizing workouts for those looking to build lean muscle and augment their strength and power.
During the first few weeks of any new training regimen, gains in strength and endurance develop quickly as your body begins to recruit new muscle fibers and acclimates to an increase in physical activity. At first, muscle mass does not increase as quickly as its size does. This is primarily due to an increase in metabolism, which helps your muscles burn fat more efficiently giving them a more defined appearance. An increase in water uptake by your muscles enhances their apparent size and aids blood flow and nutrient transport to the muscle tissue giving you a ‘pumped’ feeling. Adequate hydration is essential to proper health and building muscle. It is important to drink 8 to 10 glasses of water, or about 70 oz daily as recommended by the Dietary Guidelines for Americans. The Institute of Medicine advises that men consume roughly 3 liters (about 13 cups) of total beverages a day and women consume 2.2 liters (about 9 cups) of total beverages a day.
While your strength and endurance improve you eventually set the groundwork for incorporating increased resistance and heavier weight with more dynamic exercises and movements that aid in building actual mass and lean muscle weight.
Even if you are focused on building your upper-body musculature, it is crucial to incorporate legs into a well-rounded routine at least once a week. Performing lunges, squats, and other exercises that work your quads, hamstrings and gluts prompt an increase in muscle building potential. This is because the muscle groups of the legs are the largest muscles in your body. As you exercise these large muscles they produce increased levels of testosterone and other natural hormones that are beneficial to building muscle and burning fat.
It is also important to be sure that resistance levels, or the weight used, and the number of repetitions you do are high enough to fatigue the muscle and maximize your potential for growth. When lean muscle growth and muscle mass is concerned, it is recommended to perform three to four sets of 8 to 12 reps for each exercise. Aside incorporating the right exercises and using the proper weight, working out the right way is best. When trying to build muscle mass, it is crucial to work out efficiently. This means, giving yourself ample time in between sets to allow your muscles to rest, as well focusing on isolating the right muscles and focusing on perfect form.
Make sure to create daily splits throughout the week that alternate the working muscle groups. Weight training creates tiny micro tears in muscles, which repair and rebuild during periods of rest. If you neglect to let your muscles repair by continually working the same muscles every day, the muscle will start to breakdown instead of buildup. More importantly serious injury can result if muscles are not allowed adequate time to repair.
In term of your diet, muscle building requires a careful balance of carbohydrates, fats, and protein as well as plenty of vitamins and minerals. It is important to note that the best source for all of these nutrients is from natural foods rather than supplements or food products. Aim for healthy carbohydrates from fruits, vegetables and whole grains, while avoiding simple sugars that can cause a spike in insulin levels and inhibit growth hormones that prompt muscle growth. Make sure to shoot for ½ -1 gram of protein for each pound of body weight and opt for five to six small, balanced meals every day.