Muscle building made simple: 3 steps to get strong
03 Oct 2014 Posted by Samantha Clayton, AFAA, ISSA
Getting results and changing your body composition takes hard work and consistency. Whether your goal is muscle building, improving your overall fitness level, or losing weight, you must do certain things on regular basis to reach your ultimate goal. My three steps will work for any fitness improvement regimen so I will be a little more specific and help you to make your own muscle-building plan.
Step 1. Perform specific exercises on a regular basis.
Step 2. Eat a well balanced diet including adequate amounts of protein and micronutrients.
Step 3. Schedule in some rest days to allow for adaptations to occur.
These three simple steps are essential for getting results with all fitness programs, especially muscle building fitness programs. In order to stimulate muscle growth, your body must be pushed with resistance style exercises. Muscle growth occurs when small muscle fibers tear as a result of stress and then regenerate themselves. This growth occurs during periods of rest and your body needs fuel to regenerate efficiently.
Your muscle building plan must include the following:
- Hard work: Stimulate muscle tissue by training hard. Use your body weight as resistance or lift weights on a regular basis, 3-4 times per week.
- Balance: Do exercises for the upper and lower body to ensure you maintain a good muscular balance in your body.
- Patience: Allow time for the results to appear. It takes time to see muscle growth and gain strength.
- Rest days: Don’t over train because your recovery ability will be compromised. You’ll begin to regress if you do too much. Plan to take at least 1 or 2 rest days per week.
- Motivation: Understand that you need to motivate yourself to make it happen
Best way to train for muscle building
Progressive training is important if you want your muscle building routine to be productive. You must be dedicated to training in a way that helps you to improve over time. Doing the same thing over and over will not get you the muscle building results that you want. If you lift the same amount of resistance, for the same number of repetitions (reps) during each workout session, you’ll stay the same. At some point, you must attempt to either perform more reps, or more use more resistance.
Following a reps and weight increase schedule will allow to easily measure if you’re improving from workout to workout. Rep ranges is a simple concept to understand and apply to your training.
I like to recommend a rep range of 10-14 for strength training in the initial stages, especially when someone is just getting started. High reps will force you to choose a moderate weight. This way you will become proficient with exercise form (important for safety) as the weight increases. As your workouts transition more into the power range, increase weight and decrease reps.
Beginning a muscle building plan
Your goal in your first workout is to reach muscular fatigue within the set range using a set amount of resistance. For example: 50lbs was your chosen weight for squats and you achieved twelve perfect reps (a thirteenth rep was unattainable). You would simply record in a notebook as Workout one 1 squats = 50lbs 12 reps.
The goal in your next workout would be to achieve more reps with the same weight until you can perform 14 full reps. Achieving the set reps should prompt you to increase resistance in your following session because the top end of the rep range was achieved.
The resistance for that set should be increased between 5-10% with the goal of achieving at least ten reps in the ten to fourteen rep-range.
Your ongoing goal should be to increase the number of reps within the rep range; and then increase the amount of resistance when the top end of the range is reached. This method of training is slow but it’s, in my opinion, a foolproof way to increase your overall strength and muscle mass.
You’ll need to ensure that you’re getting enough fuel for your workouts and recovery. You should aim to have a good breakfast, a mid-morning healthy snack, a sensible lunch, a mid-afternoon snack, and then an appropriate dinner in the evening.
You’re attempting to build muscle and you need fuel to accomplish that. You can’t restrict your calories too much, but don’t get confused by that… You should always restrict your consumption of unhealthy calories. Choose nutrient dense foods that are high in protein and get your carbohydrates from whole grains and fruits. Many people who are trying to gain weight or muscle will make the mistake of thinking they can eat a lot of unhealthy food. This will make you gain weight, but weight gain with unhealthy fats and sugars is detrimental to your overall health and can impact your cholesterol levels. Be sensible with your choices.
Have fun building muscle and striving to improve your strength. It will take hard work and dedication but the hard body will be worth all of the work!
Written by Samantha Clayton, AFAA, ISSA. Samantha is Director of Fitness Education at Herbalife.
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