Everyone wants to know how to gain muscle the easy way, and there are hundreds of fitness programs that claim to help you pack on the pounds of muscle by eating certain foods, doing certain exercises, or even sleeping a certain way. The truth is that there is no one-size-fits-all approach to fitness or muscle-building. You have to be very specific in how you go about building muscle the effective way:
Eat the Right Amount of Protein
Notice how it’s “the right amount”, not a specific amount. The truth is that the protein recommendations differ for each person. Your goal should be to eat around 1 gram of protein per pound of lean bodyweight, but some people will need to eat more to keep up with a fast metabolism while others will need to eat less because of their slow metabolism. The more active you are, the more protein you need to eat. If you’re lifting weights and strength-training regularly, you need to up your protein intake.
More Weight, Less Reps
If you’re working with more than 15 reps per set, you’re engaging the muscle fibers that are built for endurance rather than strength. To see serious muscle growth, you need to perform fewer than 12 reps per set. Ideally, that number should be anywhere from 1-4 (maximum weight) or 6-10 (heavy weight training). The heavier the weight, the more muscle hypertrophy from your efforts.
If you don’t stretch, you’ll never see the results you want. Stretching helps to loosen up tight muscles, encourages better posture, and reduces your risk of injuries. It also enables your body to send more energy to your muscles and decreases inflammation, thereby speeding the post-workout healing process. To see real results, spend time stretching EVERY day!
Cut Back on Cardio
For some people, an hour or two of cardio per week can help to promote weight loss, while for others it will just slow down their muscle-building. It’s all dependent on your body’s fat metabolism and the way your body utilizes fat for energy. Give yourself a few weeks of solid resistance training to build muscle, then slowly incorporate more cardio into your daily workouts. Start with 5-10 minutes per day, then increase it to one 30-40 minute session per week, or two 15-minute HIIT sessions. Limit the amount of cardio you do if you want to pack on serious muscle.
Mix Whole Body and Split Routines
Whole body workouts are highly effective for building muscle, as they engage all the muscles in your upper body, core, and lower body for massive muscle usage. However, the truth is that whole body routines typically focus on the major muscle groups (back, chest, legs, and core) and sometimes fail to work out some of the smaller muscles (like your biceps, triceps, shoulders, or calves). That’s why you should do at least two days of split routines per week—one day focus on your upper body, the other day focus on your lower body. That way, you can target the less-used muscles to ensure consistent muscle growth.
Switch it Up
This is where it really gets effective! If you follow the same routine every day and every week, your body will adapt to those specific patterns and ranges of movement, and your muscles will ONLY grow to accommodate those movements. To see real, effective results, you have to push your body from every angle, hitting every muscle in a different way. The more variety you have in your workout, the more effective your overall muscle growth will be and the more versatile you will become.