What You Need to Know About Building Muscle

So many people spend hours in the gym, working hard to pack on the pounds of muscle. But there's a lot we don't understand about building muscle. A whole lot more than just lifting weights is necessary if you want to see results. Below, you'll find everything you need to know about building muscle:

It Starts with Protein

Before your body can build more muscle tissue, it needs nine amino acids. These amino acids are found in protein-rich foods like meat, chicken, eggs, milk, fish, and legumes. You need at least 1 gram of protein per pound of bodyweight per day if you want to see serious results in terms of muscle growth.

Carbs are Vital Too

You can't build muscle without carbs. Too many carbs will lead to fat gain, but some carbs (in moderation) is necessary for the production of the energy you'll burn at the gym and in your training. If you don't get carbs, your body will turn to the protein for fuel—depriving your muscles of those amino acids. Make sure you get plenty of carbs before your workout!

Sleep Matters

If you don't sleep well, you're not going to build muscle. Sleep helps to balance your hormones, increasing the levels of growth hormone and testosterone that promote muscle-building. Plus, did you know that a lack of sleep increases your risk of overeating—and eating the wrong foods? Sleep at least 7-8 hours a night to see the results you want.

Frequency is Key

Eating more often will help to keep your body supplied with the nutrients it needs to produce new muscle tissue. It will also help you to have enough energy to get through your workout without running out of steam. Eating more smaller meals (five to six meals of 200-500 calories each) will help you to get all the calories you'll burn throughout the day, but in a steady supply that will keep your metabolism firing all day long.

Keep Your Body Guessing

Muscle confusion is an excellent way to build muscle. Essentially, you keep changing up the workout so your body doesn't have time to adapt or "fall into a groove" with a specific exercise. It's the key to seeing long-term results, as the constant changing of the exercises works your muscles in new ways.

Push Yourself Harder

Never settle for the same load or volume as you lifted yesterday. Always push yourself harder, even if it's only to add one rep or one extra set. The key to seeing serious progress is to always be pushing for more. Not overdoing it or pushing your body to dangerous extremes, but always trying to "one-up" yourself and your regular workout.

Work it All

When training for muscle, don't just focus on the larger muscle groups: your back, chest, and legs. Heck, don't even spend all of your time on your arms, shoulders, and core. You also need to work the stabilizer muscles, the secondary muscles that are engaged when you move around. Change it up by adding resistance bands, medicine balls, and rotational movements to your workouts. You'll see excellent results overall.

Work Functional Strength

Lifting weights is a great way to bulk up and pack on muscle, but it's not going to make you truly "fit". To get fit, you have to run, cycle, and train for functional strength. Functional strength is essentially the strength to move your own body. Bodyweight training—push-ups, pull-ups, bodyweight squats, etc.—are one of the best ways to train for functional strength. You'll be strong enough to move your body weight, making you a much fitter person overall.

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