The Essential Guide to Building Muscle

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The Essential Guide to Building Muscle

DISCLAIMER
The material contained within this book is provided for educational and informational purposes only and is not intended as medical advice. It should not be used to diagnose or treat any illness, metabolic disorder, disease or health problem. As with all programmes, techniques and materials related to health, exercise and diet, you must first consult your doctor or health care provider before implementing changes into your lifestyle. If you chose not to obtain a doctor’s approval prior to beginning this or any diet and exercise plan, you do so at your own risk. The information offered within this book is intended for adults, aged 18 and over, who are in good health. Even if you have no known health problems, it is advisable to consult your doctor before beginning an exercise and nutrition programme. Sporting Excellence Ltd makes no representation or warranties of any kind with regard to the completeness, accuracy or safety of the contents of this book. Sporting Excellence Ltd accept no liability of any kind for losses or damages caused or alleged to be caused directly, or indirectly, from using the information contained herein. Published by Sporting Excellence Ltd 13 Scarisbrick New Road Southport Merseyside PR8 6PU England. Copyright © Phil Davies and Sporting Excellence Ltd. All rights reserved. Neither this book, nor any parts within it may be sold or reproduced in any form without prior permission. Layout and typesetting by Neil G. Tarvin Cover design by Ovi Dagar Interior images courtesy of istockphoto.com Editing by Phil Davies BSc., CSCS, CPT

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The Essential Guide to Building Muscle

TABLE OF CONTENTS
INTRODUCTION Paralysis By Analysis What’s With All The Numbers In [Brackets]? 3 Steps To Success STEP 1 – WHAT’S YOUR GOAL? Be SMART Reasons STEP 2 – CREATE YOUR MUSCLE BUILDING EATING PLAN The First Rule of Weight Loss Your Metabolic Rate How To Gain Weight The Balance of Good Health Gaining Muscle & Losing Fat How Many Calories Measuring Progress & Making Adjustments 6 Simple Rules for An Effective Nutrition Plan Sample Meal Plans Supplements STEP 3 – CREATE YOUR MUSCLE BUILDING EXERCISE PLAN Resistance Training Resistance Training Guidelines Summary of Guidelines Sample Plans Recovery Weeks Cardiovascular Exercise Aerobic Vs Interval Training Cardiovascular Training Guidelines SUMMARY REFERENCES FOR STEP 2 REFERENCES FOR STEP 3 4 4 5 6 7 7 9 10 10 10 11 13 14 15 16 16 30 31 36 36 37 42 43 46 47 47 48 51 52 60

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Paralysis By Analysis When it comes to building muscle. Maybe you simply want to gain overall weight or perhaps you want to improve your physique by developing more muscle while keeping body fat levels to a minimum. Here is just a small selection of claims you may have come across previously (we’ll examine throughout this guide which ones. Of course lack of information isn’t the problem. It’s designed with the 80-20 principle in mind – the scientifically proven techniques and strategies that will make 80% or more of the difference. if any. have some truth to them): • • • • • • • You must eat a lot of protein to gain significant amounts of muscle Lifting moderately heavy weights (sets of 8-12 repetitions) is the best way to induce muscular hypertrophy You must eat every 2-3 hours to prevent your body from feeding on existing muscle. without the use of anabolic steroids It is essential you take a post-workout supplement or meal within 20-30 minutes of your weight training session Creatine is the only supplement guaranteed to enhance muscle growth The human body can only digest a small amount of protein in one sitting so must eat a small amount of protein with every meal 4 . The problem is too much information and no way to verify what is fact and what is fiction. too many can put the brakes on your progress before you even start. Either way this guide will show you how. you’ll find no shortage of advice and fervent opinion. diet and training recommendations aren’t hard to come by. Fitness and nutrition is often overly complicated and while it’s important to establish a few “rules”. curbing your ability to build new muscle It’s possible to increase your testosterone levels naturally. Whether it’s in the paper pages of health & fitness magazines or the digital pages of the World Wide Web.The Essential Guide to Building Muscle INTRODUCTION This guide is designed to help you build muscle mass.

But when it comes to nutrition. They are based on sound science and they will give you the greatest returns for your efforts! 5 . broad sweeping claims without backing those claims up. it won’t be long before somebody offers up a very convincing argument as to why you are doing it all wrong! Nothing will kill your success like a lack of consistency. What’s With All The Number in [Brackets]? You’ll notice that there a quite a few references throughout this guide depicted by a number in square brackets like this [0]. Fortunately.The Essential Guide to Building Muscle • • Cardiovascular exercise hinders your ability to gain new muscle mass and breaks down existing muscle By eating a really “clean” diet you can gain muscle and lose fat at the same time If you do finally manage to rationalize all the conflicting advice and marketing hype and find a suitable diet and training programme. The solution is to use reliable scientific research… Science certainly doesn’t have all the answers. One of the big criticisms of a lot of health & fitness literature is that it often makes controversial. You can have confidence that the recommendations in this guide are not just the opinion of one individual. are the facts. and nothing will kill your consistency like confusion and doubt over what you are doing. there are some tried and tested principles (most of which have remained steadfast for many years) that will enable you to achieve and maintain the physique you desire. exercise and building muscle. there is a way to selectively sift through the vast quantities of anecdotal stories. There is no way for the reader to know whether it’s just the author’s opinion and how well educated that opinion is. subjective opinion and persuasive advertising and arrive at what you can feel confident.

an overall goal. It will help you set a target. In Step 2 you will discover how to create and follow a healthy. It also dispels some common myths surrounding various types of weight training routines and how you can easily fit a programme around your other commitments. muscle-building eating plan. Step 1 is perhaps the most important and unfortunately the most overlooked. Even more crucially. scientifically based weight training programme. 6 . for both your physical appearance and your health. There is no reliance on calorie counting. your overall physical appearance and your self-confidence. Just as importantly. It covers six key principles to help make integrating it into your lifestyle much easier. Step 3 shows you how to develop an effective. point scoring or food weighing. Please don’t skip this section. Follow these 3 steps and you will gain a sizeable amount of lean muscle mass. you will give yourself the greatest chance of maintaining your new physique for many years to come. but you will know what and when to eat in order to build muscle.The Essential Guide to Building Muscle 3 Steps to Success This guide has been broken down into three key steps. It’s best to read these steps in order as each one builds on the next. it will help you devise a powerful set of reasons that will keep you on track from start to finish. You will also improve your health.

Remember. In order to overcome any potential pitfalls. and why. You probably already know that weight can be gained quite quickly by gorging on high-calorie. it’s important to know what is realistic and achievable. So rather than saying “I want to gain weight” a better goal is “I want to gain 7lbs of lean muscle”. 7 . that gaining weight and muscle isn’t just about what to eat and how to train. Self-discipline and will power will only take you so far. However. It’s a good idea to make part of your goal about successfully following your plan. Before you can set a suitable goal. temptations and ingrained bad habits. reduce my level of body fat and improve my energy levels”.The Essential Guide to Building Muscle STEP 1 – WHAT’S YOUR GOAL? Being clear about what you want to achieve. A realistic weight gain is 1-2lbs per week with a proportion of that inevitably coming from fat. is an essential first step in any effective plan of change. Assume that about half of this will be in the form of lean mass. Attainable You want to find a balance between what is realistic and what is inspiring. Goals that are SMART are: Specific General goals such as “I want to gain some weight” are less effective and motivating than “I will gain lean muscle. it’s also about getting yourself to apply what you know consistently. Be SMART One of the best ways to create your overall goal is to use the acronym SMART. as you’ll discover later you want to limit the amount of fat you gain in favour of muscle and you also probably want to improve or maintain your overall health. high-fat fast foods. it’s one that is often overlooked or dismissed. Measurable You should be able to measure your goal. A realistic gain in bodyweight is 1-2lbs per week. you need a clear goal to keep you focused and a powerful set of reasons to keep you on track. Unfortunately.

Your goal should not rely on other people or outside influences to be successful. just like a marathon runner. You can then set a new goal and then another and another. You may have heard the phrase “diets don’t work. They have an end-goal in mind – the race date. So take it one step at a time. make a commitment to see your plan through to the end no matter what. A good time frame is 8 to 12 weeks as this is long enough to see measurable changes but no so long it becomes daunting. but would like to tone and re-shape your body. And because by then the right food choices will be more habitual and because you will be experiencing first hand the satisfaction of changing your physique. But compare this to someone who decides to train for a marathon. you will be much more inclined and motivated to keep going. E. You justify to yourself that you can’t keep things up indefinitely so you might as well quit now. they can muster the will power to carry on because they know it’s not forever. 8 . should you decide what to do next. “I will gain 7lbs by February 28th”. If you feel happy at the weight you are for example. In other words. That’s why most people who make the decision to run a marathon usually achieve their goal despite it being so difficult. Here are some examples of SMART goals. Time-Sensitive Give yourself a date by which time you will have achieved your goal. It should be about you and rely only on you. That’s true but many people interpret that to mean “start eating right today and maintain it for the rest of your life”. until suddenly you realise that it has become “a way of life”. That can be pretty demoralising and with that mindset it’s very easy to give up at the first hurdle. for example “I will gain more weight than my mate John over the next 8 weeks”. If training gets tough one day or if they skip a session. Only when you reach your goal.The Essential Guide to Building Muscle Relevant Your goal should be meaningful to you. then create a goal around that.g. Remind yourself that you have the right to quit after the end date but. it has to be a way of life”. you want that sense of accomplishment to look back on for many years to come.

To help you create your list. So once you’ve created a SMART goal the next step is to create a set of compelling reasons that are moving and motivating and that really mean something to you. whilst keeping my body fat levels in single figures. inevitably there will be days and moments when don’t feel like sticking to your plan. your motivations might seem a bit vain. here are some sample reasons: Positive Reasons • I will be a great role model for my kids • My clothes will fit me better and I’ll great in smaller fitting shirts and tshorts.” Reasons No matter how much you plan ahead. By July 1st I will gain over a stone. think of the pleasurable consequences of achieving your goal as well as the negative ones if you don’t. decreased my waist size by1 inch and improved my overall shape by following my eating and exercise plan consistently” “Starting January 1st. In other words. I’ll have to buy myself a new wardrobe! • I will feel more confident and self-assured • I will look and feel younger and more attractive and I’ll get more attention • I will be more influential in my place of work • I will have more energy to do more things. When it comes to building muscle. travel more often • If I achieve this it will inspire me to set bigger and better goals in other areas of my life • I’ll turn heads on the beach this summer! • I can inspire other people to do the same 9 . You should come up with both ‘carrot’ and ‘stick’ reasons. lost 10lbs of body fat. learn new skills.The Essential Guide to Building Muscle “By September 7th. I will begin my highly effective 8-week weight gain plan and I will gain over 7lbs of body weight in less than 12 weeks” “Over the next 6 months I will follow a thoroughly enjoyable training and nutrition plan. I gained 10lbs of lean muscle. but keep them to yourself and don’t be afraid to acknowledge them.

the aim is to convert as much of those surplus calories into muscle as possible. from carrying out basic bodily functions to lifting heavy weights. The First Rule of Weight Gain The laws of energy conservation say there is one. This will help you to understand why following certain diet and exercise principles will give you the greatest chance of long-term success. On the surface. Several factors affect our resting metabolic rates: • • • Body composition: the more fat free mass (such as muscle) a person has. the higher their resting metabolism will be Gender: men typically have higher resting metabolisms than women due to more fat free mass Age: resting metabolism usually decreases with age due to a decrease in fat free mass 10 . we need to review a few basic biological laws. The energy we need during complete rest just to stay alive on a daily basis is known as our resting metabolic rate [1]. way to gain weight: Consume more energy than you expend Or put another way: eat a greater amount of food calories than the calories your body requires during day-to-day life. and only one. Your Metabolic Rate Our bodies need energy for everything. However.The Essential Guide to Building Muscle STEP 2 – CREATE YOUR MUSCLE BUILDING EATING PLAN Before we look at what types of foods and what kind of nutrition plan will help you build muscle. With the help of a suitable weight training plan. simply stuffing yourself with junk food will not only produce lacklustre results. this rule looks like a fairly straightforward one to follow. it will lead to excessive amount of body fat – not to mention the negative affect on your overall health.

transport and assimilate our food (called the thermic effect of food). the more of you there is to keep alive and warm so the higher your metabolism will be Body temperature: an increase in temperature increases resting metabolism Stress: increases resting metabolism Hormones: the amount of certain hormones secreted from the thyroid and adrenal glands can increase or decrease resting metabolic rate Under normal conditions. That’s an imbalance of less than 15kcal per day… or the equivalent of one potato chip! Even if they tried. How To Gain Weight Research from the USA shows that on average a typical person gains about 1. The rest of our energy needs come from our daily activities (from fidgeting to intense exercise) and also the energy needed to digest. What does this mean? 11 . resting metabolic rate accounts for 60-75% of our total energy needs each day [2].5lbs of fat per year [1]. Think about that for a moment. nobody could control their energy intake and energy output to that degree of accuracy.The Essential Guide to Building Muscle • • • • Surface area and mass: the bigger you are. There are roughly 3500kcal in 1 pound of fat.e. So that equates to an imbalance of about 5250kcal per year for a typical person (i. they consume 5250kcal more than they need).

2]. In other words. that the body cannot fully compensate for significant changes to energy intake. That means that if you increase your daily energy intake by a suitable amount (i.e. you will start to gain weight despite your body’s best attempts. 12 .500 calories a day).The Essential Guide to Building Muscle The human body is clever. your body can increase its resting metabolic rate. The good news is however. If you consume a few more calories than it needs. Assuming your weight is fairly stable right now. it can raise its daily energy needs in an attempt to defend its current weight [1. consuming just a few extra calories. making only small changes to your diet alone. probably won’t show up on the scales. increase the amount of energy needed to digest food and increase the amount of calories you burn during activity.

But for the vast majority of people it isn’t feasible to spend much of their time resting or taking things easy. The plate is divided into different sized sections depending on how much of a food group should be eaten: According to Eatwell Plate. 13 . dairy products and a small amount of sugary and fatty foods.The Essential Guide to Building Muscle In theory. about one third of your diet should come from fruits and vegetables. Of course a good nutrition plan should not only be effective for building muscle. It’s called The Eatwell Plate and consists of five food groups on a plate. It’s also not conducive to keeping body fat levels low in order for the new muscle you build to show through. pasta. you could keep your energy intake exactly the same and reduce your energy expenditure instead. While your main goal is to gain weight and muscle. it should also be balanced and healthy… The Balance of Good Health There’s an old adage that says we are what we eat. One third should be in the form of unrefined carbohydrates (such as bread. Your diet doesn’t just affect your weight – it also affects your health and risk from various degenerative illnesses. The rest of this section shows you how to increase your daily energy intake and muscle mass through an effective nutrition plan. the remaining third is made up of fish. rice and potato). meat. The National Foods Standard Agency [3] has devised a simple way to eat a balanced and varied diet. eating large quantities of junk food is not a good idea.

The Essential Guide to Building Muscle Whilst we will use the Eatwell Plate as our starting point. This is why it’s difficult to both gain muscle and lose fat simultaneously. We’ll cover these changes a little later in this section. This is designed to help you lose fat whilst preserving the muscle you have. it’s possible for them to build some muscle as they lower their body fat stores. you can follow the guidelines in the Essential Guide to Fat Loss. If Your Priority Is To Build Muscle… Aim for a calorie surplus. insisting on avoiding even a small increase in body fat is a sure-fire way to make little or no progress. But for anyone who is reasonably lean to begin with. For someone who is significantly overweight. the opposite is true . there are exceptions to this rule. there is evidence to suggest that a few changes to this can help to increase muscle gain. Gaining Muscle & Losing Fat What if want to lose body fat (or keep your body fat levels low) and at the same time build a significant amount of muscle? You already know that to gain muscle you must have a calorie surplus. In order to lose body fat. Start by following the guidelines in the Essential Guide to Fat Loss and when you are happy with your body fat levels come back to this guide and use it to build some muscle. Alternating programmes this way will help you to reach your goals much more quickly. When you are happy with the amount of muscle and weight you have gained. even on a calorie-restricted diet. but this can be kept to a minimum using the guidelines in the rest of this section. You will inevitably gain some body fat. 14 . Of course. If you do lose a small amount of the muscle on the fat loss programme.you must have a calorie deficit. The net result is that after following both programmes you will look both muscular and lean! If Your Priority Is To Lose Fat… Aim for a calorie deficit. it’s easier and takes less time to build it back up again [4].

The problem is that calorie counting is not an exact science and can also be quite tedious. which has been shown to lead to a suitable rate of lean weight gain [6.The Essential Guide to Building Muscle How Many Calories? We’ve all heard of calorie counting and you may have first hand experience of it from one time or another. its purpose is to measure the amount of food we eat – not the quantity but the energy within our diet – to ensure our energy input is above (but not by too much) our energy output. They range in complexity but all are best guesses and many of these formulas underestimate the resting metabolic rate of athletes. A much more reliable and accurate approach is to adjust your caloric intake based on your weight – if you don’t notice a change on the scales you up your intake until you do. you need a starting point. it’s difficult to measure energy intake precisely and we can only take a best guess at what our daily energy requirements are. The easiest way to do this is to add an extra (small) meal to your diet and/or to increase the portion sizes of your existing meals. Even when weighing food. Option 2 Start with a calorie intake of 15-25 calories per pound of bodyweight.32]. From a weight gain point of view. or anyone who exercises regularly [5]. 15 . If you’re naturally very lean and light. Here are two options: Option 1 If you’re weight is steady at the moment. There are a number of formulas designed to estimate your energy requirements. To do this however. As you can see there is a big difference between those two intakes. someone weighing 11 stone (154lbs) would aim for a calorie intake of about 2300kcal to 3800kcal. For example. Start at the lower end of this scale (15-20 calories per pound) if you have moderate to high levels of body fat. add about 500 calories a day to your diet. you should aim for the upper end of this scale (20-25 calories per pound).

Below you’ll find a series of straightforward principles that will help to make your nutrition plan easier and more intuitive to follow… 6 Simple ‘Rules’ For an Effective Nutrition Plan Rule #1 – Choose A Meal Frequency That Allows You To Eat The Most The number one principle for gaining any form of weight is to consume enough calories. Caloric intake is not the only important element of an effective. If you’ve never tried it before it might sound easy to eat lots of food as and when you want.The Essential Guide to Building Muscle Option 2 requires some degree of calorie counting. Try to make sure you weigh yourself at the same time of day. Keep a food diary for a few weeks (use approximate portion sizes. can all significantly affect the reading. this doesn’t have to be indefinite – just until you get a feel for what food intake allows you to gain weight. Any more than this will likely mean that you are gaining too much body fat. ideally first thing in the morning before eating or drinking and on the same flat surface. The result is that you eat less energy overall. there’s no need to weigh food) and use a free tool like Fit Day to gauge your calorie intake. If you find you haven’t gained any weight. such as time of day and hydration levels. some of which will be a bit of extra body fat. But eat too much in one sitting and it can leave you feeling full and sick for the rest of the day. By the same token. you may find it easier to consume 16 . increase your calorie intake by 250500Kcal per day and re-test a week or two later. Measuring Progress & Making Adjustments You should aim to gain 1-2 pounds of bodyweight each week. the rate will slow down and you may need to up your energy intake further to reach your target. Be aware that as you do gain weight. maintain this for 8-12 weeks before switching to a fat loss programme. However. Eating little and often (or grazing as its known) may help to increase your overall energy intake. Once you’ve found a food intake that adds to your weight. balanced diet. Bear in mind that 1-2 pounds is difficult to track accurately on the scales because other factors.

and especially bodybuilders. the highest energy-dense foods contain a lot of fat or sugar (such as pizza and ice cream) and are typically items that we are told to avoid.The Essential Guide to Building Muscle more by eating 3 large meals a day with not much in between. In fact. Even though calorie counting isn’t essential. studies that have looked at meal frequency and its effect on metabolic rate typically conclude that eating few versus many meals each day makes little or no difference. But there are also healthier. or the weight. 17 . Some fitness professionals. But there is nothing special about eating every 2-3 hours. of food that you eat that is important when trying to gain weight. or calories. For most people. Foods that contain a relatively high number of calories per gram of their weight are referred to as high energy density foods. Rule #2 – Mix High & Low Energy Density Foods It’s not the amount. eating 5 or 6 times a day (either 5 or 6 small meals or 3 meals and 23 snacks) allows them to consume more calories than eating 2 or 3 very large meals. From a common sense point of view. There is no reliable research to show that this is the case or indeed that the body’s metabolism changes to such as extent during the day. So it would make sense then. state that you must eat every 2-3 hours. to eat foods that contain a lot of energy. it may be worth keeping a food diary for a few days on each format to see which helps you to consume the most calories. it can take several hours (3-5) to fully process even a small meal. but that don’t leave you feeling full for long. As you might guess. it’s the energy contained within that food. They claim that going any longer without food causes your body to enter state of “starvation” wherein it begins to break down muscle tissue to use as energy. more nutritious options and it’s these foods that you should aim to make a part of your diet. So why would the body begin to breakdown muscle to avoid starvation after 3 hours of not eating when nutrients are still available from the previous meal? Practical Guidelines Consume the number of meals that allows you to eat the most.

Here are some practical examples for increasing the energy density of your diet: • Alternate white and wholemeal versions of pasta. This will help to increase the calorie content of your diet without curbing your appetite too much.5 or less Examples include fresh fruits and vegetables Low Energy Density = 0. have white pasta or bread for lunch. especially wholemeal. Snack on raw nuts and dried fruit. Medium Energy Density = 1.5 Examples include starchy foods like rice and pasta. A 100-calorie serving (100Kcal) weighing 100 grams has an energy density of 1 for example.0 Examples include dried fruit. may be low to moderate in energy density but they won’t leave you feeling as full compared to solid equivalents [19]. • Very Low Energy Density = 0. if you have wholemeal toast or cereal for breakfast. which are both high in calories.1 and above Examples include high fat and high sugar foods like pizzas and confectionary. try to include some moderate to high energy density foods. Although wholemeal foods have been shown to keep you fuller for longer [18] they add essential fibre to your diet so shouldn’t be neglected altogether. For example.The Essential Guide to Building Muscle Because low energy density foods are usually the most rich in those essential vitamins and minerals. The best approach is to mix low energy density foods with healthier high energy density foods. It’s easy to work out the energy density from any food label – simply divide the number of calories by the weight. nuts and olive oil Liquid meals. such as smoothies and shakes. • • • With each meal and snack.6 –1. bread and many fat-free snacks. Healthier options include “good” fats found in avocados. don’t avoid them out of fear they will leave you feeling full without adding many calories to your diet.6 – 4. • 18 . breads and cereals. High Energy Density = 4.

you’ll feel hungrier and sooner following a 500-calorie smoothie compared to a 500-calorie solid snack. Add plenty of healthy fats to meals. drinking water before or during a meal doesn’t seem to effect calorie consumption [21] and as we’ll see later. water intake is important. the official daily recommended intake of protein for adults is 0. • • With these simple changes you can still eat healthily but significantly increase your energy intake at the same time. Despite anecdotal claims. For a 70kg (11 stone) adult that equates to 56 grams of protein – an amount easily obtained by most people in developed countries. Avoid soup before main meals. stating that only a small amount of extra protein is necessary if at all. You can be less strict than someone on a fat loss programme but eating too much junk food can quickly lead to an excessive amount of fat gain. In other words. and that excessive protein consumption could have long-term health implications. solid meals tend to suppress appetite to a greater extent [19]. or slices of avocado as a side to any meal. Bodybuilders on the other hand often consume upwards of 2 grams per kilogram with 4 grams per kilogram not uncommon. flax seed oil or Udo’s Oil Blend added to shakes and salads. There is a growing body of research to show that a moderate to high protein intake (relative to the official recommended daily intake) can prevent the loss of muscle tissue during a weight loss programme [23-25]. There’s no need to avoid fast food and desserts altogether either. But does that mean 19 . are usually adamant that large amounts of dietary protein is required to build significant muscle mass. Compared to liquid meals of similar energy content. Examples include olive oil stirred into stews and sauces. As it stands. hiding the muscle you are working hard to build! Rule #3 – Eat Enough Protein Nothing stirs debate in the fitness and nutrition industry like protein intake. Most Registered Dieticians tend to disagree. It can significantly reduce your appetite and the amount you want to eat [20].8 grams per kilogram of bodyweight [22]. Bodybuilders and strength athletes in particular.The Essential Guide to Building Muscle • Consider replacing one or two meals / snacks with a liquid smoothie or shake.

However.2-1. protein needs can actually reduce. 45].about 20-30grams. improves the body’s ability use protein more fficiently [30. there are limitations with these studies. Contrary to this popular belief.6 grams per kilogram [29].7 grams per kilogram [33-35] but not all studies agree that there are any benefits over and above the 1. 20 . The net result is that. recommends that strength-training athletes require up to 1. alongside a weight-training programme. It’s not difficult to eat more than this in one sitting with a medium to large chicken breast containing 45grams of protein or more.The Essential Guide to Building Muscle that a protein intake over and above the RDA is also superior for building muscle mass? Dietary Protein & Muscle Growth Some support for an increased protein intake comes from the work of Lemon and Tarnopolsky [26-28].7 grams or protein per kilogram with endurance athletes needing around 1. age and activity level. there is evidence to suggest that the body can digest larger amounts of protein at a time. Protein Intake Per Meal There has also been a lot of speculation that the body. The researchers didn’t actually measure changes in muscle growth – just indirect markers that suggest muscle growth could be more likely. Protein Intake And Safety Nutritionists opposed to higher protein intakes often speculate that too much protein could increase the risk of kidney damage or heart disease.2-1. A number of studies have found that intakes of around 3 grams of protein per kilogram lead to significantly greater gains in lean body mass compared with 1. Dr. But our protein need is simply the amount we require to prevent deficiency and isn’t particularly informative about what amount is optimal for muscle growth. who is often cited by protein supplement makers. More relevant research has looked at actual changes in body composition with different protein intakes. can only digest and utilize a limited amount of protein in one meal . and in particular resistance training. regardless of size. Peter Lemon. Studies have shown that as much as 56grams of protein eaten in one go can be effectively assimilated [44.31]. Critics of higher protein consumption point to evidence that exercise. in beginner weight trainers at least.7g/kg mark [32].

Several studies monitoring increased protein intakes have found no adverse effects on renal function [36.The Essential Guide to Building Muscle In terms of renal function (the function of the kidneys). A common and easy-to-remember guideline is to aim for 1gram of protein per pound of bodyweight (the equivalent of 2. So ff you suffer from even mild kidney dysfunction. It’s important to note that there is some evidence to suggest high and even moderate protein intakes can accelerate the decline in people with existing kidney damage. despite what many dieticians claim. something in the region of 1. protein intakes could have been as high as 3. This falls within the maximum recommendation based how quickly the body can excrete excess protein [49]. again there is a lack of evidence and only theories.4grams per pound) seems optimal.6g per kilogram (1. whose meat contained different types and amounts of fat compared to farm raised animals. Based on the studies above. As for heart disease.2grams per kilogram). there is research to show that an increased protein intake outperforms current recommendations.7 to 3grams per kilogram of body weight (0. Bear in mind however.27grams per pound) [38]. that hunter-gatherers were very active and ate wild animals. In fact.7g per pound) [40]. who live as our ancestors did. Some researchers believe that our early ancestors ate much larger amounts of protein than we do today [39].8grams per kilogram (1.37]. you should consult your doctor before following a higher protein diet. 21 . even when protein intake is as high as 2. Practical Guidelines Firstly. to support the idea that higher protein intakes increase the risk. Studying modern day hunter-gathers. there is no hard evidence to show that higher intakes of protein are dangerous.77 – 1. there is a body of research to suggest that replacing some carbohydrates in favour of protein may actually reduce the risk of heart disease [41-43]. with levels at the upper end of the scale sometimes outperforming those at the lower end. only theoretical reasons as why it might be harmful over the long-term [36].

The Essential Guide to Building Muscle With all this talk of amounts of protein per pound of bodyweight, you might be thinking how you can apply this practically in your day-to-day life. Here are some tips: • Eat a palm-sized portion of protein with each main meal. Opt for protein sources with a high biological value (which means it contains all nine essential amino acids that the body cannot produce on its own). Animal protein, such as fish, poultry and dairy, is typically high in biological value, whereas plant protein found in grains, pulses and vegetables are usually lower in biological value. Each portion should be roughly the size of your palm or clenched fist. Try to eat some protein with each snack too. Snack ideas include nuts such as almonds, cashews, peanuts etc., (go for uncooked and unsalted and not dry roasted) with raisins or low-fat yoghurt with fresh fruit. You can also readily buy high protein, low fat snack bars and shakes, and while these can be expensive they have their place if used now and then for convenience. Consider keeping a food diary for a week or so. Enter the protein foods you eat, and approximate portion sizes into a free nutrition calculator such as Nutrition Data or Fit Day to work out your average protein consumption each day. If it works out at less than 1g per pound of bodyweight, adjust your portion sizes or consider taking a protein drink with snacks or before meals. If you opt for a protein supplement, consider whey protein, which has a very high biological value and may outperform vegetarian alternatives, such as soy protein, when it comes to building muscle [33] (see the supplement section later on). Don’t go over board. More is not necessarily better and while there is no evidence that higher protein intakes are dangerous, no long-term studies have been completed. A sensible approach is to start at the lower end of the scale (1.7g/kg or 0.8g/lb) and based on results, increase to a maximum of 2.2g/kg (1.0g/lb).

Rule #4 – Have A Pre Or Post Workout Snack
It’s almost a universally accepted doctrine in the fitness and bodybuilding world: that a post-workout meal or snack is essential if you want to maximise your ability to build muscle. Additionally, it’s been said that this post-workout

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The Essential Guide to Building Muscle meal must contain some protein, carbohydrate and little or no fat and must be consumed within 20-30 minutes of the workout. But is it really that essential to consume something straight after your session or can you wait a few hours until your next meal? And what about eating something before or during your session? Proponents of post-workout snacks and shakes point to research that shows protein synthesis improves when something is consumed immediately after the workout compared to waiting several hours [46-48]. There’s also some research to show that nutrients consumed before or during a workout can have a similar effect [16-19,20,21]. But improved protein synthesis is only an indication that more muscle will be built as a result and not a guarantee. Protein Consuming some protein following a weight training session has been shown to help prevent muscle loss when on a calorie restricted diet [24,52,53]. Not only that, when compared to a carbohydrate only post-exercise supplement, a protein plus carbohydrate supplement comes out on top. Again, more indirect studies show that protein consumption after strenuous exercise can help to tip the balance in favour of protein synthesis (which, in theory could lead to muscle gain) [55-57]. In studies tracking changes in body composition, a protein supplement given before and after a resistance training session lead to greater increases in muscle mass compared to a carbohydrate supplement [23,25]. You may have heard of two classes of proteins called fast and slow proteins. Fast proteins (such as whey powder) are those that are rapidly digested and absorbed by the body, while slow proteins (such as the protein in milk) taker longer to digest and assimilate. Not surprisingly, popular consensus is that fast proteins are best for postworkout nourishment because they can be broken down and delivered to fatigued muscles more rapidly. However, there’s no reliable evidence to show that one type of protein is favourable over another and if anything studies favour slower proteins [58-60].

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The Essential Guide to Building Muscle Carbohydrate Research with athletes shows that early post-exercise ingestion of carbohydrate is important for quickly replenishing the body’s glycogen stores [61,62]. Glycogen is an essential fuel for any type of exercise and keeping levels high will help an athlete to recover between sessions and complete more training in total [63]. Your body may be able to replenish its muscle glycogen stores twice as quickly if a high-carbohydrate recovery drink or snack is taken immediately after exercise compared to waiting a few hours [64]. In fact, without early post-exercise carbohydrate consumption, it can take 2-3 days for muscle glycogen levels to return to normal [65]. But this is more applicable to athletes who are training strenuously for several hours everyday rather than someone who is lifting weights 3-4 times a week. Research Limitations Many of the studies examining pre and post-workout nutrition fail to take the rest of the day’s diet into account. This is a problem when you consider that a moderate sized meal can be releasing nutrients 4-5 hours after it was eaten. From a common sense point of view, it’s unlikely that your body will begin to break down existing muscle if it isn’t fed within half an hour of your training session. It takes several hours to process even a small meal, so unless you train first thing on an empty stomach, you’re likely to still have food and nutrients in your digestive system from your previous meal. Practical Guidelines Unlike what many supplement companies would have you believe, the benefits of post-workout nutrition are still unclear. In theory, consuming something before, during or after your weights session may help to accelerate gains in muscle mass, but if you eat several regular meals throughout the day, it becomes less important. Pre and post workout drinks or snacks certainly won’t do your cause any harm and may be worth taking just to boost your overall calorie consumption, but it’s also not worth stressing over precisely what and when to eat either side of your training sessions. With that in mind here’s some practical guidelines for pre, post and intraworkout eating: • Aim to eat something within 3 hours after your workout. Ideally, these meals or snacks should consist of some protein and carbohydrate. 24

• If you workout first thing in the morning on an empty stomach or after not eating all day. there is no urgency to consume carbohydrates immediately after your workout. From a general muscle-building point of view. If this is the case. If you do opt for a post-workout meal or snack. then take a snack to the gym to eat immediately afterwards. If you don’t want to consume anything before or during your workout. There is no need to become fanatical about eating within a 20-30 minute window. o 1 scoop whey protein powder mixed with fruit juice or squash and water o Banana o Sports drink such as Lucozade Sport or (or make your own by mixing 200400ml of squash with 1 litre of water) Post Workout o Chicken / tuna sandwich o 2 pieces of fruit and 150g pot of yoghurt 25 . Carbohydrate taken immediately after a strenuous training session can help to quickly replenish your glycogen stores. But this is more important for athletes who are training daily and cannot afford to wait a day or two before glycogen stores return to normal levels. don’t worry about what type of protein (fast or slow) you consume after training. is ideal for a pre-workout or an intra-workout drink because it digests more rapidly. have a small snack an hour or so before your session or take something for during your session.The Essential Guide to Building Muscle You may want to take a post-workout snack to the gym to eat immediately after training. • • Here are some sample pre and post workout snack ideas: Pre Workout (About 1 Hour Before) o 1 scoop (20-25g) whey protein o 1 scoop whey protein powder and a banana During Workout o 1 scoop whey protein powder mixed with 2 scoops (40-50g) of dextrose or maltodextrin powder (both available from health food stores and bulk supplement companies online). such as whey. A fast protein. or you can wait until your next meal. pre and post-workout nutrition becomes more important.

duck. (low fat versions made from good quality meat are acceptable).¾ pint semi-skimmed milk with 50g ultra fine porridge oats. standard burgers and sausages etc. there is still much confusion surrounding the topic. Increase Good Fats Despite the widespread awareness of the dangers of too much dietary fat. no more than 10% of the diet should come from saturated fats – much less than a typical western diet.5g saturates or less per 100g Reduce saturated fat in your diet by: • • Cutting the fat off meat and removing the skin from chicken Eating leaner proteins such as poultry. Boiling. grilling. When is a particular food considered high or low in saturated fat? High: more than 5g saturates per 100g Low: 1. milk and commercially prepared cakes.blend ½ . What’s more. there is evidence to suggest that a suitable fat intake can increase testosterone levels – which can help increase strength and muscle gain from weight training [50.51].The Essential Guide to Building Muscle o Meal replacement shake such as EAS Myoplex or Met-Rx plus piece of fruit o Home made meal replacement shake . fish and lean beef and avoiding pork. We need it for insulation and protection of vital organs such as the heart. pies and cookies. Using low fat spreads and dressings on sandwiches and salads. a banana or any soft fruit and honey to sweeten. cheese. Generally considered to be a major contributor towards coronary heart disease. butter. egg yolks. Let’s take a look at some practical ways to limit the bad fats and increase the good ones… Saturated Fats Saturated fats are found in foods such as red meat. • • 26 . lungs and liver and to transport vitamins throughout the body. Not all fat is bad. Rule #5 – Reduce Bad Fats. steaming and baking rather than frying and roasting.

lard and ghee. Polyunsaturated fats. there are no such laws. You can avoid trans fats by avoiding all foods that list hydrogenated or partially hydrogenated fats or shortenings on their labels. Using mashed avocado as a dip or filling for a jacket potato instead of mayonnaise or cream cheese. Laws in the US mean that packaged foods must list whether they contain trans fats. almonds and pecans. In the UK and Europe however. Baked goods such as donuts. 27 . it can make the diet more palatable and help you to increase your caloric intake without adding bulk. Naturally occurring trans fats are found in meat and some dairy products but they are artificially formed when liquid vegetable oils are turned into solid fats through a process called hydrogenation. Only use margarines that are labelled as trans fat free. Using unsaturated oils such as olive. pastries. Using yoghurt or fromage frais instead of cream or sour cream. avocados.The Essential Guide to Building Muscle • • Opting for low fat dairy products such as semi-skimmed or skimmed milk and low fat cheeses. cakes and pies are likely to contain trans fats unless stated otherwise. at the time of writing. You will naturally replace saturated fats with unsaturated fats by: • • • Choosing oily fish such as salmon and mackerel instead of fatty meats. Unsaturated Fats Unsaturated fats come in the form of monounsaturated fats and polyunsaturated fats. rapeseed and sunflower oil instead of butter. Monounsaturated fats can actually improve cholesterol levels and lower the risk of coronary heart disease and are found in foods like olive oil. canola oil. You don’t have to eliminate saturated fat from your diet and in fact. Trans Fats Manufactured trans fats are another form of ‘bad’ fat that are generally accepted to be more harmful than saturated fat. found in sunflower oil. safflower oil and corn oil are not thought to contribute to heart disease but don't offer the same protection as monounsaturated fats.

EFA Supplements Eating 1-3 portions of oily fish. Omega-6 and Omega-9. and arthritis [66]. Fish oil is usually only available in capsule form (because of the taste). the research is limited at this time and there is no need to gulp down fish oil supplements every day. unsalted nuts instead of biscuits. you could supplement with an omega oil blend. Be aware that there are some concerns over environmental pollutants found in some brands of fish oils. and this imbalance contributes to long-term diseases such as heart disease. A typical western diet tends to have too much Omega-6. improve arthritis. Try adding 2-4 28 . prevent osteoporosis and help with a number of other ailments [66]. asthma. Seven Seas has been recommended by the Foods Standards Agency previously. particularly in relation to Omega-3. immune. if your diet is reasonably low in fat intake. puddings and pastries. Compare food labels to see what the energy (kcal) per 100g is. However. Note: not all low fat foods are healthy or low in energy. a touch of garlic and seasoning instead of butter and milk.The Essential Guide to Building Muscle • • • Making mashed potatoes with olive oil. reproductive. cancer. EFAs are required for a healthy cardiovascular. however plant-based essential fatty acids are widely available as an oil (with a much more acceptable taste).68]. You can supplement this with fish oil capsules on days that you don’t eat fish. There is convincing research to show that increasing our intakes of Omega-3 can improve cholesterol levels. per week is the current recommendation for overall health benefits. Choosing fruit or healthy option desserts instead of cakes. Alternatively. improve diabetes. and nervous system as well as healthy skin. There are three types of essential fatty acids – Omega-3. Essential Fats Essential fatty acids (EFAs) are a class of polyunsaturated fats that have received a lot of attention in the media. Snacking on uncooked. hair and bones. There is also some research to suggest Omega-3 can help to reduce body fat stores by increasing fat metabolism during rest and exercise [67. such as salmon or mackerel. prevent clogged arteries. lower blood pressure.

However.2 and 2. well-hydrated cells seem to be more efficient at burning fat [76-78] but the intravenous techniques used to hydrate individuals being tested would be difficult to replicate just by drinking more water.71]. alcohol appears to increase our appetites causing us to eat more at a meal that includes a drink [70. At a little over 100 calories per tablespoon. 29 . is very beneficial for burning fat.The Essential Guide to Building Muscle tablespoons per day of flaxseed oil or Udos Choice 3 6 9 Oil blend to salads. According to several studies. However. it also limits the body’s ability to burn fat [72. Water Water has received a lot of attention in the last few years. stews. too much alcohol can make it very difficult to lose fat… Firstly. we need between 2. But just how much water do we need? According to a report published in the Journal of the American Dietetic Association. As we’ll discover in the next section. however relatively little gets stored as fat. some lean muscle tissue. Celebrities swear by it and it seems that everyone is telling us to drink more of it.9 litres (9-12 cups) of noncaffeinated.73] and finally. these fluids can come from drinks other than water and also water-rich foods. there is some research to suggest that the omega-3 found in plantbased oils can is converted into the beneficial type of omega-3 once in the body [69]. non-alcoholic fluids each day [75]. Note: The type of omega-3 derived from plant-based sources is not thought to provide the same cardio-protective benefits as omega-3 derived from fish. Rule #6 . It is true that alcohol can’t be used by the body as a fuel for energy. it seems to have a negative effect on lean muscle mass [74].Reduce Alcohol Intake Many people believe that the calories from alcohol are automatically stored as fat. smoothies and juices or take alone. However. Secondly. even in women. this can make a significant contribution to your increased energy needs.

squash or dextrose Meal replacement shake 1-2 pieces fruit OR Scrambled eggs on 2 slices toast (plus margarine/butter) 1-2 pieces fruit 50g peanuts 50g raisins / dates 150g pot natural yoghurt 150g pasta 1 can tuna 1 tbsp mayonnaise Mixed veg (i. Snack 4pm Dinner 6.30pm MORNING WORKOUT Pre-Workout 6am Workout 7am 1 scoop whey protein Intra-workout drink: 1 scoop whey mixed with fruit juice.The Essential Guide to Building Muscle Drinking cold water can increase your metabolic rate as your body expends energy to heat it up [79] although there is certainly no need to avoid cold water when on a muscle building programme.30pm Dinner 7pm Snack* 10pm * Two options are given in case you prefer / are able to have a more solid breakfast 30 . squash or dextrose 150g white rice 1 chicken breast diced Bag stir fry vegetables 1 tbsp omega blend oil Bowl whole wheat cereal Semi skimmed milk Chopped banana Snack 9.e from frozen) or salad 1 tbsp omega blend oil High protein bar 1-2 pieces fruit 1 medium jacket potatoes 50g cheddar cheese melted 1 turkey breast Broccoli and carrots 1 tbsp omega blend oil Low fat granola / museli Semi skimmed milk Chopped banana Snack 10am Lunch 12pm Post Workout 8am Snack 11am Snack 3pm Lunch 1pm Workout 5.30pm * If a late snack is too heavy going to bed. try switching it with the shake mid morning. as additional protein may increase the risk of dehydration. Sample Meal Plans With these 6 ‘rules’ to hand let’s look at some sample meal plans: EVENING WORKOUT Breakfast 7am Large bowl oatmeal Honey to sweeten 1-2 scoops whey protein Handful dried apricots Glass fresh orange Meal replacement shake 1-2 pieces fruit 4 slices white bread Prawns 1 sliced avocado Slice tomato & cucumber 200ml semi skim milk 1 tbsp omega blend oil or fish oil tablets 50g almonds/cashews 50g raisins / dates 150g pot natural yoghurt Intra-workout drink 1 scoop whey mixed with fruit juice. The bottom line is that drinking more water is probably an important goal for most people and perhaps more so if eating a higher protein diet.

As for gaining lean weight. Supplements The sports supplement industry is big business and the “muscle-building” sector is particularly lucrative. As well as any water retention. creatine can lead to additional and more rapid gains in muscle mass. there is often very little compelling evidence for the majority of sports supplements. It’s often advised that Creatine be loaded for a period of around 5-6 days (20grams per day) before following a maintenance dose of about 3grams per day. However. this is probably due to increased muscle water content and not additional muscle tissue. 31 . There are literally hundreds of nutritional and ergogenic aids all promising to elicit faster and more pronounced muscle growth Despite persuasive marketing that frequently utilizes scientific jargon to make their claims. creatine has also proven to be effective. evidence suggests that taking 3 grams per day for 30 days will elicit the same results. we’ll briefly cover those few supplements that are backed by research or that can play a helpful role in your goal to build lean muscle mass: Creatine It’s highly likely you’ve heard of this supplement and that’s probably because it has been more widely researched than any other. In this section. However. This may be the result of allowing increased workload during sessions and also favourable changes in protein metabolism. There is little doubt that creatine enhances performance in activities involving bouts of high-intensity exercise separated by short recovery periods.The Essential Guide to Building Muscle These are samples only and you need to select from a variety of foods throughout the week. gains of 2-3lbs of lean weight are not uncommon. During a 5-day intensive loading phase.

but objective research doesn’t agree. For more information on the different types of protein powders see the protein powder article in the Sports Nutrition section of Sports Fitness Advisor 32 . Flavoured protein powders mixed with water can make a palatable drink before meals to increase the protein content. It’s particularly useful to increase the protein content of a meal or the diet as a whole. and as part of a convenient. Side effects such as muscle cramps. Despite numerous studies into creatine supplementation. There are a wide range of proteins available. is as an adjunct to a balanced diet based predominantly on natural. There are a number of types of whey protein with claims that some are superior to others. porridge. By far the most popular type of protein is whey. Whatever the source a protein powder is derived from. See the creatine articles in the Sports Nutrition section of Sports Fitness Advisor for more information and recommended usage directions should you wish to try creatine.The Essential Guide to Building Muscle Not everyone responds to creatine and it may be of little benefit in as much as 30% of the population. derived from different sources and each with there own digestive properties. soups and stews. Where it can be useful however. whole foods. no increased incidence of negative side effects have ever been found. whey is said to have a high biological value . pea and hemp protein. Protein Powders Protein powder is probably the top selling sports supplement on the market – particularly amongst those who are aiming to build muscle mass. Plant-based derivatives include soy. intra and post-workout shake and also mixes well into smoothies. casein and egg white.a measure of how readily the broken down protein can be used by the cells of the body. Protein powders derived from animal sources include whey. brown rice. it is not a magic bullet. One of two proteins to come from milk. easy-to-prepare snack. Whey protein is useful as part of a pre. muscle tears and stomach upset have been reported anecdotally.

dairy or don’t eat much fruit and vegetables) then a low-potency supplement may be useful. There are also “weight gainer” MRPs that contain upwards of 500Kcal with most of the extra energy coming from carbohydrate. you can design your own formula with just the basic. They may also add in “secret ingredients” such as glutamine that you will pay extra for and aren’t proven effective. MRPs contain some carbohydrates and fat and are very often fortified with extra vitamins and minerals.myprotein. and if they do they are likely to be obtained through extra food intake. Unlike protein powders.uk/ Multivitamins & Minerals It’s debateable whether athletes undergoing intense training require additional vitamins and minerals. However. 33 . portable meals when preparing food just isn’t practical. taken in excess antioxidants can actually increase the damage caused by free radicals. So is there any reason to take a multivitamin and mineral supplement? Not if you consume a balanced diet from lots of different food groups. so does taste and texture. Choose a brand based on personal preference for taste and also ingredients. if you avoid a major food group (such as red meat. Alternatively. preservatives and fillers. Some MRPs contain artificial flavours. The ingredients between MRP brands varies substantially and of course.The Essential Guide to Building Muscle Meal Replacement Powders Meal replacement powders (MRPs) are used for convenient.co. natural ingredients you want at somewhere like http://www. You can make your own MRP by blending protein powder (or milk) with porridge oats and soft fruit (see Rule #4 above). Intense exercise can lead to an increase in free radicals and antioxidants (such vitamin C and E) may help to combat this. or more to the point lack thereof. However. A typical MRP will contain the amount of energy you’d get from a small snack (250-350Kcal) and a significant amount of protein (25-45grams).

ribose may offer some benefits to athletes in multi-sprint sports and could help with recovery between sets during weight training sessions. immune function and athletic performance. with zinc supplementation having a significant positive effect [80]. It’s marketed as a supplement to boost immune function and preserve muscle protein during periods of intensive training. As a supplement. particularly in novice weight trainers. Other Supplements A number of other supplements do have some tentative research that suggests that they may be useful in some people under certain conditions: HMB HMB may help to improve gains in muscle and strength. However. Research is mixed but some studies have shown that bovine colostrum can have a positive effect on body composition. The cost may be prohibitive to many and the general advice is to wait for further research. Colostrum Colostrum is a protein-rich substance found in mother’s milk during the first days after giving birth. Colostrum contains insulin-like growth factor (IGF) – a hormone that has anabolic effects in adults but experts believe that the IGFs and protein found in colostrum. and any ergogenic effect is likely to be relatively small. 34 . creatine offers similar benefits and has much ore scientific support. It could also aid recovery and increase training capacity.The Essential Guide to Building Muscle In particular. it is usually derived from cow’s milk and is known as bovine colostrum. even moderate deficiencies in zinc have been shown to reduce testosterone levels. Ribose Another expensive supplement. cannot be absorbed by the body. It’s expensive however. Glutamine Glutamine is a non-essential (meaning the body can produce it itself without obtaining it from the diet) amino acid.

While in theory. You will find more information and research on these supplements in the MySport Fitness Knowledge Base. Glucosamine Glucosamine won’t have any effect on your body composition or muscle mass. but it may be useful for maintaining or improving joint health. 35 . Studies are mixed and focus on individuals with existing joint pain or osteoarthritis. it could help to prevent muscle breakdown following heavy resistance exercise (and hence speed up muscle gains) there is no evidence as yet to show this is the case.The Essential Guide to Building Muscle There is some evidence that glutamine could strengthen the immune system. However. there are a number of studies to show that a good quality brand can have a positive effect on joint pain and perhaps cartilage growth.

There are an inordinate amount of weight training routines and recommendations in magazines. websites and books.The Essential Guide to Building Muscle STEP 3 – CREATE YOUR MUSCLE BUILDING EXERCISE PLAN When you consume more calories than your body requires on a day-to-day basis you gain weight. If this calorie surplus doesn’t coincide with a suitable exercise programme. resistance training also offers the following benefits [2]: • • • • • • • Increases your bone density helping to prevent osteoporosis Improves balance and stability Improves glucose tolerance and insulin sensitivity Increases functional strength making day-to-day life easier Improves muscular endurance Improves body composition and appearance Increases resting metabolism (while this is counter to gaining weight. Many of those routines are less than optimal for building muscle mass. The purpose of resistance training is simply to convert as many of those extra calories into muscle mass as possible. most of that weight will be in the form of fat (although believe it or not. But aside from building muscle. We’ll also cover cardiovascular exercise and whether it’s a help or a hindrance in the musclebuilding process. 36 . we’ll look at the kind of resistance training programme that is optimal for building muscle mass (called hypertrophy). In this section. you don’t need to spend long. it helps to keep body fat levels low) There are many different variations of resistance training but there are only a few simple guidelines to remember to get maximum results with minimum fuss. gruelling hours in the gym every day. Fortunately. excess calories can lead to an increase in lean mass [1]). while others are designed for synthetically enhanced bodybuilders. even without any form of resistance training. Resistance Training Resistance training is the only way to build a significant amount of muscle mass.

legs on day 2 and back & shoulders on day 3.4]. training for maximal strength requires a different set of guidelines. The guidelines that follow are designed to induce muscular hypertrophy. You may be familiar with the “body parts” routine. Frequency Frequency relates to the number of sessions you complete each week. Typical 3-Day Body Part Routine Monday Chest Arms Wednesday Legs Friday Back Shoulders 37 .The Essential Guide to Building Muscle A lot of people believe that bigger muscles equal stronger muscles but this is not necessarily the case. While you will inevitably become stronger. you might train chest & arms on day 1. But if you don’t train it often enough. Additionally. you should seek confirmation from your doctor that it is safe for you to begin a resistance training programme. That means you should aim to work each muscle group once every 2-5 days. you will never give it a chance to recover. Research has shown that muscle fibres repair from strenuous training after around 5 days [3. While resistance training can be beneficial and safe even for young children. Regardless of age. it requires a different set of guidelines to adults. Anyone under the age of 18 or who hasn’t stopped growing should never lift heavy weights with maximal effort. adapt and grow. On a 3-day per week routine. Resistance Training Guidelines The following guidelines are intended for adults only.4]. If you train a muscle group too frequently. which works one or two specific body parts each session. protein synthesis (the creation of new protein in the muscle cells) returns to normal within 36-48 hours [3. it begins to lose the beneficial changes made following the previous session. Perhaps more important than the number of sessions is how often your train each specific muscle group.

A more efficient alternative is to follow either a total body routine or an upper body / lower body split routine. Aim to work each muscle group 2-3 times per week. As we’ll see next. a total body routine is very effective for building muscle and it helps to prevent nervous system fatigue that can lead to burn out or injury. and it can take over 7 days for your nervous system to recover [5]. Lots of exercises and sets per muscle group are used and techniques such as forced repetitions. Another problem with this approach is that you are also placing your nervous system under a tremendous amount of stress too. To offset this problem.The Essential Guide to Building Muscle Here’s what a 5-day routine might look like: Typical 5-Day Body Part Routine Mon Chest Tue Back Wed Legs Thu Shoulders Fri Arms The problem with these routines is that each muscle group is trained only once a week (every 7 days). Total Body Routine Although it might not be very fashionable with your peers at the gym. without spending 7 days a week in the gym… Grouping Exercises We’ve already seen one way to group exercises where one or two muscle groups are worked exhaustively each session. 38 . these routines usually call for very high intensity sessions in which the muscle groups are completely exhausted. so there may be some detraining effect by the time you start your next session. there are a number of ways to group exercises so that you meet this criteria easily. supersets and drops sets are heavily employed.

Cons: the only downside is that you are performing the same or similar routine each session. The two sessions are then alternated. you work all the major muscle groups each session. 3-Day Total Body Routine Tuesday Chest Legs Back Shoulders Arms Core Thursday Legs Shoulders Back Chest Arms Core Saturday Back Chest Legs Shoulders Arms Core Pros: if you miss a session and only complete two in the week. it might sound like you need marathon sessions at the gym to squeeze in all the exercises but that’s not the case.one works the muscles of the lower body and one that works the muscles of the upper body. you are still working all the muscle groups once every 3-5 days.The Essential Guide to Building Muscle As the name suggests. At first. a minimal number of exercises and sets are used for each session. The sessions tend to be slightly more intense than the total body routine but your muscles are being worked slightly less frequently. Upper Body / Lower Body Split Routine This routine consists of two sessions . Depending on how many days you train per week (three or four). Because each muscle group is worked three times per week. each muscle group is worked at least once every 5 days. As a result each muscle group is stimulated every 2-3 days and the lower intensity sessions aren’t too stressful on your nervous system. 39 .

But is there an optimal repetition range that you should aim for? According to the National Strength & Conditioning Association (6). while lighter weights lifted for more repetitions is best for “toning”.The Essential Guide to Building Muscle 3-day Upper/Lower Body Split Routine Mon Chest Back Shoulders Arms Wed Quadriceps Hamstrings Calfs Core Fri Chest Back Shoulders Arms Mon Quadriceps Hamstrings Calfs Core Wed Chest Back Shoulders Arms Fri Quadriceps Hamstrings Calfs Core 4-day Upper/Lower Body Split Routine Mon Chest Back Shoulders Arms Tue Quadriceps Hamstrings Calfs Core Wed Rest Thu Chest Back Shoulders Arms Fri Quadriceps Hamstrings Calfs Core Pros: if you enjoy the feeling of really working a muscle. this might be more satisfying than the total body routine Cons: a whole session devoted to working the leg muscles does not appeal to everyone! Repetitions You’ve probably already heard that lifting heavy weights for fewer repetitions is the best for building muscle. A number of studies have found that very heavy weights that can only be lifted for fewer than 6 repetitions are best for developing maximal strength. sets of 612 repetitions are best for inducing muscular hypertrophy. 40 .

You may be able to lift heavier weights by using momentum or swinging the bar. A good balance is to aim for 1 to 1. Repetition Speed Aim to perform the concentric phase (i. select a weight that allows you to lift between 6 and 12 repetitions. However. However. Anything too fast or too explosive will result in poor technique and you won’t actually overload the target muscle group as effectively. reduce the weight slightly. If you are unable to reach 6 repetitions. Try lowering the weight to a count of 2 or 3. and in fact using very heavy weight (that can only be lifted 1-3 times) can significantly improve strength without significant changes in muscle size.12]. In this vain.e. short rest periods will significantly decrease your ability to perform each subsequent set to a high intensity. The recommendation is to complete 3 to 6 sets per exercise [6. Sets There is some research to suggest that just a single set performed to failure is enough to bring about gains in maximal strength and hypertrophy [11. Once you are able to lift more than 12 repetitions increase the weight next time. but you won’t improve as quickly. The eccentric phase (i.The Essential Guide to Building Muscle Maximal strength and muscular size do not necessarily go hand in hand. the majority of studies show that multiple sets per exercise are optimal when it comes to building muscle mass and improving strength [1318].8]. which can both have a favourable effect on muscle mass. lowering the weight) should be controlled rather than just letting the weight fall.19. Recovery Periods Hypertrophy occurs as a result of fatiguing a muscle group over a number of sets.5minutes rest between sets.e. 41 .10]. Another argument for shorter rest periods is that it results in higher levels of testosterone and growth hormone [9. For each exercise you complete. the difficult part) of an exercise with a fast but controlled tempo.20]. some people believe that the next set should be performed before full recovery has occurred [7.

here’s what your resistance training sessions should look like: No. bench presses. leg presses. exercises per session: 6-10 No. 42 . deadlifts.The Essential Guide to Building Muscle Exercises There are literally an infinite number of resistance exercises to choose from. shoulder presses and lat pull downs. beyond a certain point you begin to get diminished returns. repetitions per set: 6-12 Rest between sets: 60-90sec Rest between exercises: 60-90sec It goes without saying that you should warm up thoroughly before every resistance training session. Complete a couple of warm up sets for each exercise (especially the first few) using 50% of the weight you intend to use for each set. there is research to suggest that compound exercises stimulate a greater release of naturally occurring testosterone – a potent muscle-building hormone [21]. You want to select a range of exercises to avoid developing weak areas that can leave you prone to injury and with poor posture. Time There is no need to spend forever at the gym or on a resistance training session at home. Good examples include barbell squats. sessions per week: 3-4 No. Aside from making your routine more efficient. Summary of Guidelines Based on the guidelines above. You also want to select the exercises that work the largest muscle groups or combination of muscle groups – referred to as compound exercises. Start with 5-10 minutes of light cardiovascular exercise such as brisk walking or cycling. sets per exercise: 3-6 No. Aim to complete your session in 60 minutes or less – including a 510 minute warm up and cool down. In fact.

You can use a machine alternative to the free weights exercises below. however free weights work smaller stabilizing muscles that may be neglected with machine exercises. 43 . performing more repetitions or reducing the rest period. add some additional weight. This is simply to allow different muscle groups to be worked at the beginning of the session when you are fresh. if you can dip your bodyweight for more than suggested number of reps. However.The Essential Guide to Building Muscle Sample Plans Here are some sample programmes based on the 3-day total body and 4-day upper/lower split routines: 3 – Day Total Body Routine Each of the three sessions in this routine covers all of the major muscle groups in the body. 3-DAY TOTAL BODY ROUTINE – SESSION 1 Exercise Barbell bench presses Machine leg presses Machine lat pull downs Dumbbell shoulder presses Machine calf presses Barbell biceps curls Weighted dips* Incline crunches** Reps 5-8 8-12 8-12 8-12 8-12 8-12 8-12 8-12 Sets 3-5 2-3 2-3 2-3 2-3 2-3 2-3 2-3 Rest 60-90sec 60-90sec 60-90sec 60-90sec 60-90sec 60-90sec 60-90sec 60-90sec * Dips are traditionally a bodyweight only exercise. ** You can increase the intensity of crunches by holding a weights plate to your chest. you’ll notice that the exercises and the order the muscle groups are worked in. However. varies. and to keep the routine more interesting.

if you can chin/dip your bodyweight for more than suggested number of reps. However. 44 .The Essential Guide to Building Muscle 3-DAY TOTAL BODY ROUTINE – SESSION 2 Exercise Barbell squats Barbell deadlifts Dumbbell incline bench presses Cable seated rows Dumbbell lateral raises Dumbbell incline curls Cable triceps pushdowns Back extensions Reps 5-8 8-12 8-12 8-12 8-12 8-12 8-12 8-12 Sets 3-5 2-3 2-3 2-3 2-3 2-3 2-3 2-3 Rest 60-90sec 60-90sec 60-90sec 60-90sec 60-90sec 60-90sec 60-90sec 60-90sec 3-DAY TOTAL BODY ROUTINE – SESSION 3 Exercise Weighted chins* Barbell military presses Dumbbell lunges Barbell bench presses Barbell biceps curls Weighted dips* Machine calf presses Hanging leg raises** Reps 5-8 8-12 8-12 8-12 8-12 8-12 8-12 8-12 Sets 3-5 2-3 2-3 2-3 2-3 2-3 2-3 2-3 Rest 60-90sec 60-90sec 60-90sec 60-90sec 60-90sec 60-90sec 60-90sec 60-90sec * Chins and dips are traditionally a bodyweight only exercise. keeping your legs straight instead of bent knees. add some additional weight. ** You can increase the intensity of leg raises by. holding the position when your legs are fully extended performing more repetitions or reducing the rest period.

However. For example train on Mon / Wed / Fri. however free weights work smaller stabilizing muscles that may be neglected with machine exercises. 45 . add some additional weight. It may take a week or two to find the most suitable weights for you. each to be completed twice per week. if you can dip your bodyweight for more than suggested number of reps. You can use a machine alternative to the free weights exercises below. Use correct technique at all times. Select a weight that allows you to just about complete a number of repetitions that falls within the suggested range. Do not hold your breath when lifting the weight. When you can complete 2 or more repetitions than the suggested maximum. increase the weight by the smallest increment next session. 4 – Day Upper Body / Lower body Split Routine There are two sessions in the programme.The Essential Guide to Building Muscle • • • • • • Perform each of the sessions above once per week but not on consecutive days. reduce the weight on the second and third sets so that you can still perform the desired number of repetitions. UPPER BODY SESSION Exercise Barbell bench presses Dumbbell incline bench presses Machine lat pull downs Cable seated rows Dumbbell shoulder presses Dumbbell lateral raises Barbell biceps curls Weighted dips* Reps 5-8 8-12 5-8 8-12 5-8 8-12 8-12 8-12 Sets 3-5 2-3 3-5 2-3 3-5 2-3 2-3 2-3 Rest 60-90sec 60-90sec 60-90sec 60-90sec 60-90sec 60-90sec 60-90sec 60-90sec * Dips are traditionally a bodyweight only exercise. If required.

Every fourth week.The Essential Guide to Building Muscle LOWER BODY SESSION Exercise Barbell squats Barbell deadlifts Machine leg curls Machine leg extensions Machine calf presses Kneeling crunches Weighted twisting crunch Reps 5-8 8-12 8-12 8-12 8-12 8-12 8-12 Sets 3-5 2-3 2-3 2-3 3-5 2-3 2-3 Rest 2-3min 2-3min 60-90sec 60-90sec 60-90sec 60-90sec 60-90sec Recovery Weeks Resistance training can and should be intense – after all. The basic format can stay the same but select different exercises for a change of pace and to make sure no muscle groups get neglected. Because of this. complete only two during your recovery week. if you completed 4 sets for an exercise before. You may also want to stop a repetition or two short of failure for each exercise during this week. the goal is to fatigue muscles enough to bring about muscular hypertrophy. Every 8-12 weeks consider changing your routine. In other words. 46 . it’s important to factor in regular recovery weeks to prevent over training. reduce the volume by half.

Remember that weight gain of any kind can only occur when you are in a calorie surplus. While both forms of exercise burn a similar amount of energy during the sessions. As for the claims that it hinders muscle gain. It may also be more beneficial for improving markers cardio-respiratory fitness. because they can clock up dozens of training hours per week. It can also consist of short bouts of intense exercise interspersed with recovery periods – known as interval training. Not only is not detrimental. simply ruling out cardiovascular exercise for fear it burns excess calories is a shortsighted view. it may even help muscles to grow bigger [22-25]. Pointing out that long-distance athletes are typically very skinny isn’t valid either. but these are not the same as hypertrophy. interval training can burn significantly more calories in the hours following the session.The Essential Guide to Building Muscle Cardiovascular Exercise Cardiovascular exercise has unquestionable health benefits. The question is whether or not it hinders your ability to build muscle. 47 . In practice. It brings with it many important health benefits. scientific research doesn’t seem to agree… Research comparing a programme of weight lifting alone to the same weight lifting programme plus aerobic exercise. Where the confusion comes from is that aerobic exercise can limit strength and explosive power gains. Many bodybuilders and even Fitness Professionals go as far as claiming that cardiovascular exercise can actually reverse the muscle-building process. so in theory at least. Aerobic Vs Interval Training Cardiovascular exercise can be low intensity completed at a steady pace known as aerobic exercise. invariably finds that adding the aerobic exercise does not hinder muscle growth in any way. anything that burns extra calories is a hindrance rather than a help. both physiological and psychological.

Very simply. Cardiovascular Training Guidelines Here are some simple guidelines for incorporating aerobic exercise into your programme: Frequency Aim to complete three sessions per week. 48 . it’s best to stick to a few aerobic sessions per week. aim for a 6-7. Your maximum heart rate can be predicted with the following formula: 208 – (Age x 0. a 40year old would have a predicted maximum heart rate of : 208 – (40 x 0. In this respect. If you have quite a bit of body fat to begin with. on a scale of 1 to 10 (where 1 is a gentle stroll in the park and 10 is an all-out sprint). Note: if you play sport or are involved in any vigorous activity during the week. It simply means you’ll have to consume a little more energy than you would if you weren’t involved in those activities. to build muscle you want to limit the amount of energy your burn while still receiving most of the health benefits from cardiovascular exercise. that it is difficult to both gain muscle and reduce your body fat stores at the same time.6 = 108bpm 180 x 0.7) = 208 – 28 = 180 beats per minute (bpm) This figure (180 in this case) is multiplied by 60-70%: 180 x 0.7 = 126bpm If you don’t have access to a heart rate monitor you can use a scale of perceived exertion. don’t think it will prevent you from gaining weight and muscle mass. Assuming you are reasonably lean. you are best following guidelines in The Essential Guide To Fat Loss first.The Essential Guide to Building Muscle Remember.7) For example. Intensity To determine the intensity of aerobic sessions you can either use a percentage of your maximum heart rate or a rate of perceived exertion.

aerobic classes. complete a short aerobic session after you weights session rather than before. cycling. badminton and so on. 3 Training Days Per Week Day 1 Day 2 Day 3 Day 4 Day 5 Day 6 Day 7 Resistance session followed by CV session Rest Resistance session followed by CV session Rest Resistance session followed by CV session Rest Rest 4 Days Per Week Day 1 Day 2 Day 3 Day 4 Day 5 Day 6 Day 7 Resistance session followed by CV session Resistance session followed by CV session Rest Resistance session followed by CV session Resistance session Rest Rest 49 . Type There are many types of suitable cardiovascular exercise – jogging.The Essential Guide to Building Muscle Time Cardiovascular exercise can be limited to 20-45 minutes in duration. Keep to the lower end of this scale if you find it particularly difficult to gain weight. If you have limited time to train. tennis. try to complete your aerobic exercise sessions on separate days to your weight training. Combining Resistance & Cardiovascular Exercise Ideally. brisk walking. Avoid the higher intensity classes at your gym such as Spinning® and Body Pump®. swimming.

The Essential Guide to Building Muscle 5 Days Per Week Day 1 Day 2 Day 3 Day 4 Day 5 Day 6 Day 7 Resistance session followed by CV session CV Session Resistance session Rest Resistance session CV Session Rest 6 Days Per Week Day 1 Day 2 Day 3 Day 4 Day 5 Day 6 Day 7 Resistance session CV session Resistance session CV session Resistance session Rest CV session 50 .

All rights reserved.The Essential Guide to Building Muscle To Sum Up… Many elements of fitness seem overly complex or contradictory. nor any parts within it may be sold or reproduced in any form without prior permission. From a muscle building point of view. it may not. few if any will make a noticeable change to your body. Eating a higher protein diet is likely to help but not as much as consuming enough calories. and certainly not in the presence of poor diet and training. Copyright Sporting Excellence Ltd. it becomes clear that just a few principles make the vast majority of the difference. 51 . As for supplements. Yet when examine objective research that takes into account as many of the variables as possible. Neither this book. those principles can be summed up in one short sentence… “Eat a lot of good food and lift heavy weights” Taking a pre or post workout supplement may make a small difference.

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