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The Essential Guide to Building Muscle
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
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
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 . Paralysis By Analysis When it comes to building muscle. Of course lack of information isn’t the problem. 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. curbing your ability to build new muscle It’s possible to increase your testosterone levels naturally.The Essential Guide to Building Muscle INTRODUCTION This guide is designed to help you build muscle mass. 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. diet and training recommendations aren’t hard to come by. The problem is too much information and no way to verify what is fact and what is fiction. you’ll find no shortage of advice and fervent opinion. 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. Either way this guide will show you how. Whether it’s in the paper pages of health & fitness magazines or the digital pages of the World Wide Web. too many can put the brakes on your progress before you even start. Here is just a small selection of claims you may have come across previously (we’ll examine throughout this guide which ones. if any. Fitness and nutrition is often overly complicated and while it’s important to establish a few “rules”.
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 . 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. There is no way for the reader to know whether it’s just the author’s opinion and how well educated that opinion is. there is a way to selectively sift through the vast quantities of anecdotal stories. exercise and building muscle. broad sweeping claims without backing those claims up. Fortunately. are the facts. The solution is to use reliable scientific research… Science certainly doesn’t have all the answers.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. But when it comes to nutrition. 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. They are based on sound science and they will give you the greatest returns for your efforts! 5 . subjective opinion and persuasive advertising and arrive at what you can feel confident. 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.
In Step 2 you will discover how to create and follow a healthy. Step 1 is perhaps the most important and unfortunately the most overlooked. scientifically based weight training programme. you will give yourself the greatest chance of maintaining your new physique for many years to come. It’s best to read these steps in order as each one builds on the next. It will help you set a target. Step 3 shows you how to develop an effective. for both your physical appearance and your health. your overall physical appearance and your self-confidence. 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. muscle-building eating plan. 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. Even more crucially. point scoring or food weighing. There is no reliance on calorie counting. but you will know what and when to eat in order to build muscle. It covers six key principles to help make integrating it into your lifestyle much easier. 6 .The Essential Guide to Building Muscle 3 Steps to Success This guide has been broken down into three key steps. Follow these 3 steps and you will gain a sizeable amount of lean muscle mass. Please don’t skip this section. Just as importantly. an overall goal.
However. A realistic gain in bodyweight is 1-2lbs per week. 7 . 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. Unfortunately. that gaining weight and muscle isn’t just about what to eat and how to train. A realistic weight gain is 1-2lbs per week with a proportion of that inevitably coming from fat. 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. It’s a good idea to make part of your goal about successfully following your plan. temptations and ingrained bad habits. Attainable You want to find a balance between what is realistic and what is inspiring. it’s one that is often overlooked or dismissed. and why. Before you can set a suitable goal. is an essential first step in any effective plan of change. Self-discipline and will power will only take you so far. You probably already know that weight can be gained quite quickly by gorging on high-calorie. Remember. it’s important to know what is realistic and achievable.The Essential Guide to Building Muscle STEP 1 – WHAT’S YOUR GOAL? Being clear about what you want to achieve. Be SMART One of the best ways to create your overall goal is to use the acronym SMART. it’s also about getting yourself to apply what you know consistently. you need a clear goal to keep you focused and a powerful set of reasons to keep you on track. Assume that about half of this will be in the form of lean mass. reduce my level of body fat and improve my energy levels”. In order to overcome any potential pitfalls. Measurable You should be able to measure your goal. high-fat fast foods. So rather than saying “I want to gain weight” a better goal is “I want to gain 7lbs of lean muscle”.
It should be about you and rely only on you. They have an end-goal in mind – the race date. then create a goal around that. In other words. but would like to tone and re-shape your body. If you feel happy at the weight you are for example. You may have heard the phrase “diets don’t work. 8 . E. So take it one step at a time. Remind yourself that you have the right to quit after the end date but. Only when you reach your goal. for example “I will gain more weight than my mate John over the next 8 weeks”. they can muster the will power to carry on because they know it’s not forever. it has to be a way of life”. you want that sense of accomplishment to look back on for many years to come. That’s true but many people interpret that to mean “start eating right today and maintain it for the rest of your life”. Time-Sensitive Give yourself a date by which time you will have achieved your goal. That can be pretty demoralising and with that mindset it’s very easy to give up at the first hurdle. “I will gain 7lbs by February 28th”. 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. You can then set a new goal and then another and another. 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. you will be much more inclined and motivated to keep going. You justify to yourself that you can’t keep things up indefinitely so you might as well quit now.g.The Essential Guide to Building Muscle Relevant Your goal should be meaningful to you. should you decide what to do next. Here are some examples of SMART goals. just like a marathon runner. until suddenly you realise that it has become “a way of life”. If training gets tough one day or if they skip a session. Your goal should not rely on other people or outside influences to be successful. But compare this to someone who decides to train for a marathon. That’s why most people who make the decision to run a marathon usually achieve their goal despite it being so difficult.
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. lost 10lbs of body fat. whilst keeping my body fat levels in single figures. 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. inevitably there will be days and moments when don’t feel like sticking to your plan. When it comes to building muscle. think of the pleasurable consequences of achieving your goal as well as the negative ones if you don’t. but keep them to yourself and don’t be afraid to acknowledge them. 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. decreased my waist size by1 inch and improved my overall shape by following my eating and exercise plan consistently” “Starting January 1st. You should come up with both ‘carrot’ and ‘stick’ reasons. In other words.The Essential Guide to Building Muscle “By September 7th. I gained 10lbs of lean muscle. learn new skills. To help you create your list. 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. your motivations might seem a bit vain.” Reasons No matter how much you plan ahead. By July 1st I will gain over a stone. 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 .
Several factors affect our resting metabolic rates: • • • Body composition: the more fat free mass (such as muscle) a person has. simply stuffing yourself with junk food will not only produce lacklustre results. 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 . 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. Your Metabolic Rate Our bodies need energy for everything. This will help you to understand why following certain diet and exercise principles will give you the greatest chance of long-term success. and only one. On the surface.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. this rule looks like a fairly straightforward one to follow. However. With the help of a suitable weight training plan. The energy we need during complete rest just to stay alive on a daily basis is known as our resting metabolic rate . we need to review a few basic biological laws. from carrying out basic bodily functions to lifting heavy weights. the aim is to convert as much of those surplus calories into muscle as possible. it will lead to excessive amount of body fat – not to mention the negative affect on your overall health. The First Rule of Weight Gain The laws of energy conservation say there is one.
How To Gain Weight Research from the USA shows that on average a typical person gains about 1. they consume 5250kcal more than they need). So that equates to an imbalance of about 5250kcal per year for a typical person (i.The Essential Guide to Building Muscle • • • • Surface area and mass: the bigger you are.e. Think about that for a moment. The rest of our energy needs come from our daily activities (from fidgeting to intense exercise) and also the energy needed to digest. There are roughly 3500kcal in 1 pound of fat. resting metabolic rate accounts for 60-75% of our total energy needs each day .5lbs of fat per year . That’s an imbalance of less than 15kcal per day… or the equivalent of one potato chip! Even if they tried. What does this mean? 11 . 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. nobody could control their energy intake and energy output to that degree of accuracy.
making only small changes to your diet alone. probably won’t show up on the scales. That means that if you increase your daily energy intake by a suitable amount (i. Assuming your weight is fairly stable right now.500 calories a day). increase the amount of energy needed to digest food and increase the amount of calories you burn during activity. In other words. your body can increase its resting metabolic rate. consuming just a few extra calories. If you consume a few more calories than it needs. that the body cannot fully compensate for significant changes to energy intake. The good news is however.e. 12 . you will start to gain weight despite your body’s best attempts. it can raise its daily energy needs in an attempt to defend its current weight [1.2].The Essential Guide to Building Muscle The human body is clever.
Of course a good nutrition plan should not only be effective for building muscle. you could keep your energy intake exactly the same and reduce your energy expenditure instead. meat. it should also be balanced and healthy… The Balance of Good Health There’s an old adage that says we are what we eat. But for the vast majority of people it isn’t feasible to spend much of their time resting or taking things easy. the remaining third is made up of fish. One third should be in the form of unrefined carbohydrates (such as bread. pasta. It’s also not conducive to keeping body fat levels low in order for the new muscle you build to show through. The National Foods Standard Agency  has devised a simple way to eat a balanced and varied diet. While your main goal is to gain weight and muscle. 13 . dairy products and a small amount of sugary and fatty foods. The plate is divided into different sized sections depending on how much of a food group should be eaten: According to Eatwell Plate. The rest of this section shows you how to increase your daily energy intake and muscle mass through an effective nutrition plan. rice and potato). It’s called The Eatwell Plate and consists of five food groups on a plate.The Essential Guide to Building Muscle In theory. Your diet doesn’t just affect your weight – it also affects your health and risk from various degenerative illnesses. about one third of your diet should come from fruits and vegetables. eating large quantities of junk food is not a good idea.
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. the opposite is true . even on a calorie-restricted diet.you must have a calorie deficit. it’s easier and takes less time to build it back up again . there are exceptions to this rule. 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. You will inevitably gain some body fat. 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. you can follow the guidelines in the Essential Guide to Fat Loss. For someone who is significantly overweight. When you are happy with the amount of muscle and weight you have gained. 14 .The Essential Guide to Building Muscle Whilst we will use the Eatwell Plate as our starting point. This is designed to help you lose fat whilst preserving the muscle you have. insisting on avoiding even a small increase in body fat is a sure-fire way to make little or no progress. If you do lose a small amount of the muscle on the fat loss programme. But for anyone who is reasonably lean to begin with. Alternating programmes this way will help you to reach your goals much more quickly. In order to lose body fat. but this can be kept to a minimum using the guidelines in the rest of this section. If Your Priority Is To Build Muscle… Aim for a calorie surplus. We’ll cover these changes a little later in this section. it’s possible for them to build some muscle as they lower their body fat stores. there is evidence to suggest that a few changes to this can help to increase muscle gain. This is why it’s difficult to both gain muscle and lose fat simultaneously. Of course.
32]. 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. For example. 15 . you should aim for the upper end of this scale (20-25 calories per pound). 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.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. someone weighing 11 stone (154lbs) would aim for a calorie intake of about 2300kcal to 3800kcal. As you can see there is a big difference between those two intakes. From a weight gain point of view. If you’re naturally very lean and light. which has been shown to lead to a suitable rate of lean weight gain [6. The problem is that calorie counting is not an exact science and can also be quite tedious. Start at the lower end of this scale (15-20 calories per pound) if you have moderate to high levels of body fat. 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. Option 2 Start with a calorie intake of 15-25 calories per pound of bodyweight. add about 500 calories a day to your diet. There are a number of formulas designed to estimate your energy requirements. you need a starting point. They range in complexity but all are best guesses and many of these formulas underestimate the resting metabolic rate of athletes. it’s difficult to measure energy intake precisely and we can only take a best guess at what our daily energy requirements are. Here are two options: Option 1 If you’re weight is steady at the moment. Even when weighing food. To do this however. or anyone who exercises regularly .
The result is that you eat less energy overall. By the same token. Eating little and often (or grazing as its known) may help to increase your overall energy intake.The Essential Guide to Building Muscle Option 2 requires some degree of calorie counting. If you’ve never tried it before it might sound easy to eat lots of food as and when you want. 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. Bear in mind that 1-2 pounds is difficult to track accurately on the scales because other factors. If you find you haven’t gained any weight. Measuring Progress & Making Adjustments You should aim to gain 1-2 pounds of bodyweight each week. Be aware that as you do gain weight. increase your calorie intake by 250500Kcal per day and re-test a week or two later. Keep a food diary for a few weeks (use approximate portion sizes. this doesn’t have to be indefinite – just until you get a feel for what food intake allows you to gain weight. Once you’ve found a food intake that adds to your weight. However. some of which will be a bit of extra body fat. the rate will slow down and you may need to up your energy intake further to reach your target. But eat too much in one sitting and it can leave you feeling full and sick for the rest of the day. you may find it easier to consume 16 . can all significantly affect the reading. Any more than this will likely mean that you are gaining too much body fat. Try to make sure you weigh yourself at the same time of day. balanced diet. ideally first thing in the morning before eating or drinking and on the same flat surface. maintain this for 8-12 weeks before switching to a fat loss programme. such as time of day and hydration levels. there’s no need to weigh food) and use a free tool like Fit Day to gauge your calorie intake.
17 . But there are also healthier. 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. or calories. Foods that contain a relatively high number of calories per gram of their weight are referred to as high energy density foods. more nutritious options and it’s these foods that you should aim to make a part of your diet. it can take several hours (3-5) to fully process even a small meal. and especially bodybuilders. 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. but that don’t leave you feeling full for long. But there is nothing special about eating every 2-3 hours. state that you must eat every 2-3 hours. For most people. Some fitness professionals. 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. 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. it’s the energy contained within that food. 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. to eat foods that contain a lot of energy. of food that you eat that is important when trying to gain weight. As you might guess. Rule #2 – Mix High & Low Energy Density Foods It’s not the amount. or the weight. From a common sense point of view. In fact. Even though calorie counting isn’t essential. 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. 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. So it would make sense then.
• 18 .1 and above Examples include high fat and high sugar foods like pizzas and confectionary.6 – 4. Medium Energy Density = 1.0 Examples include dried fruit. Although wholemeal foods have been shown to keep you fuller for longer  they add essential fibre to your diet so shouldn’t be neglected altogether. especially wholemeal. This will help to increase the calorie content of your diet without curbing your appetite too much. which are both high in calories. Healthier options include “good” fats found in avocados. A 100-calorie serving (100Kcal) weighing 100 grams has an energy density of 1 for example. such as smoothies and shakes. have white pasta or bread for lunch. It’s easy to work out the energy density from any food label – simply divide the number of calories by the weight. breads and cereals. Here are some practical examples for increasing the energy density of your diet: • Alternate white and wholemeal versions of pasta. Snack on raw nuts and dried fruit. may be low to moderate in energy density but they won’t leave you feeling as full compared to solid equivalents . if you have wholemeal toast or cereal for breakfast. nuts and olive oil Liquid meals.5 or less Examples include fresh fruits and vegetables Low Energy Density = 0. don’t avoid them out of fear they will leave you feeling full without adding many calories to your diet. High Energy Density = 4. try to include some moderate to high energy density foods. • Very Low Energy Density = 0. For example. The best approach is to mix low energy density foods with healthier high energy density foods. • • • With each meal and snack.5 Examples include starchy foods like rice and pasta.The Essential Guide to Building Muscle Because low energy density foods are usually the most rich in those essential vitamins and minerals. bread and many fat-free snacks.6 –1.
As it stands. In other words. drinking water before or during a meal doesn’t seem to effect calorie consumption  and as we’ll see later. or slices of avocado as a side to any meal. 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]. water intake is important. Add plenty of healthy fats to meals. you’ll feel hungrier and sooner following a 500-calorie smoothie compared to a 500-calorie solid snack. 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.8 grams per kilogram of bodyweight . Most Registered Dieticians tend to disagree. Avoid soup before main meals. It can significantly reduce your appetite and the amount you want to eat .The Essential Guide to Building Muscle • Consider replacing one or two meals / snacks with a liquid smoothie or shake. But does that mean 19 . For a 70kg (11 stone) adult that equates to 56 grams of protein – an amount easily obtained by most people in developed countries. the official daily recommended intake of protein for adults is 0. Despite anecdotal claims. solid meals tend to suppress appetite to a greater extent . are usually adamant that large amounts of dietary protein is required to build significant muscle mass. Bodybuilders and strength athletes in particular. • • With these simple changes you can still eat healthily but significantly increase your energy intake at the same time. Compared to liquid meals of similar energy content. flax seed oil or Udo’s Oil Blend added to shakes and salads. Bodybuilders on the other hand often consume upwards of 2 grams per kilogram with 4 grams per kilogram not uncommon. Examples include olive oil stirred into stews and sauces. There’s no need to avoid fast food and desserts altogether either. and that excessive protein consumption could have long-term health implications. 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.
and in particular resistance training. Contrary to this popular belief.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 1.7 grams or protein per kilogram with endurance athletes needing around 1. Protein Intake Per Meal There has also been a lot of speculation that the body. 45].6 grams per kilogram .about 20-30grams. protein needs can actually reduce. More relevant research has looked at actual changes in body composition with different protein intakes. age and activity level. there is evidence to suggest that the body can digest larger amounts of protein at a time.7 grams per kilogram [33-35] but not all studies agree that there are any benefits over and above the 1. 20 . Studies have shown that as much as 56grams of protein eaten in one go can be effectively assimilated [44.2-1.7g/kg mark . Peter Lemon. Critics of higher protein consumption point to evidence that exercise.31]. can only digest and utilize a limited amount of protein in one meal . improves the body’s ability use protein more fficiently [30.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]. The net result is that. 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. 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. 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. Dr. in beginner weight trainers at least. recommends that strength-training athletes require up to 1. However. there are limitations with these studies. who is often cited by protein supplement makers. regardless of size. The researchers didn’t actually measure changes in muscle growth – just indirect markers that suggest muscle growth could be more likely. alongside a weight-training programme.
with levels at the upper end of the scale sometimes outperforming those at the lower end. 21 . Based on the studies above. you should consult your doctor before following a higher protein diet.4grams per pound) seems optimal. Studying modern day hunter-gathers.7g per pound) .77 – 1. Bear in mind however. protein intakes could have been as high as 3.6g per kilogram (1. there is research to show that an increased protein intake outperforms current recommendations. despite what many dieticians claim. again there is a lack of evidence and only theories. As for heart disease.8grams per kilogram (1.The Essential Guide to Building Muscle In terms of renal function (the function of the kidneys). Some researchers believe that our early ancestors ate much larger amounts of protein than we do today . even when protein intake is as high as 2. In fact. 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]. something in the region of 1.2grams per kilogram). to support the idea that higher protein intakes increase the risk. Practical Guidelines Firstly.37]. whose meat contained different types and amounts of fat compared to farm raised animals.27grams per pound) . Several studies monitoring increased protein intakes have found no adverse effects on renal function [36. there is no hard evidence to show that higher intakes of protein are dangerous.7 to 3grams per kilogram of body weight (0. This falls within the maximum recommendation based how quickly the body can excrete excess protein . A common and easy-to-remember guideline is to aim for 1gram of protein per pound of bodyweight (the equivalent of 2. only theoretical reasons as why it might be harmful over the long-term . So ff you suffer from even mild kidney dysfunction. that hunter-gatherers were very active and ate wild animals. who live as our ancestors did. 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.
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  (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
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].
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 . 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 . In fact, without early post-exercise carbohydrate consumption, it can take 2-3 days for muscle glycogen levels to return to normal . 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
A fast protein. 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 . 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. have a small snack an hour or so before your session or take something for during your session. • • 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). or you can wait until your next meal. If you don’t want to consume anything before or during your workout. If this is the case. pre and post-workout nutrition becomes more important. there is no urgency to consume carbohydrates immediately after your workout. then take a snack to the gym to eat immediately afterwards. From a general muscle-building point of view. If you do opt for a post-workout meal or snack.The Essential Guide to Building Muscle You may want to take a post-workout snack to the gym to eat immediately after training. There is no need to become fanatical about eating within a 20-30 minute window. Carbohydrate taken immediately after a strenuous training session can help to quickly replenish your glycogen stores. such as whey. • If you workout first thing in the morning on an empty stomach or after not eating all day. is ideal for a pre-workout or an intra-workout drink because it digests more rapidly. don’t worry about what type of protein (fast or slow) you consume after training.
cheese. 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. pies and cookies. Not all fat is bad.51]. Boiling.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. Using low fat spreads and dressings on sandwiches and salads. butter. Rule #5 – Reduce Bad Fats. a banana or any soft fruit and honey to sweeten. steaming and baking rather than frying and roasting.¾ pint semi-skimmed milk with 50g ultra fine porridge oats. We need it for insulation and protection of vital organs such as the heart. • • 26 . egg yolks. lungs and liver and to transport vitamins throughout the body. grilling. When is a particular food considered high or low in saturated fat? High: more than 5g saturates per 100g Low: 1. standard burgers and sausages etc. duck. 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. Generally considered to be a major contributor towards coronary heart disease. Increase Good Fats Despite the widespread awareness of the dangers of too much dietary fat.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 . there is still much confusion surrounding the topic. no more than 10% of the diet should come from saturated fats – much less than a typical western diet. fish and lean beef and avoiding pork. What’s more. milk and commercially prepared cakes.blend ½ . (low fat versions made from good quality meat are acceptable).
Only use margarines that are labelled as trans fat free. Using unsaturated oils such as olive. You will naturally replace saturated fats with unsaturated fats by: • • • Choosing oily fish such as salmon and mackerel instead of fatty meats. In the UK and Europe however. Trans Fats Manufactured trans fats are another form of ‘bad’ fat that are generally accepted to be more harmful than saturated fat. You don’t have to eliminate saturated fat from your diet and in fact. almonds and pecans. at the time of writing. found in sunflower oil. 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. Laws in the US mean that packaged foods must list whether they contain trans fats. Using yoghurt or fromage frais instead of cream or sour cream. lard and ghee. 27 . pastries.The Essential Guide to Building Muscle • • Opting for low fat dairy products such as semi-skimmed or skimmed milk and low fat cheeses. 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. Polyunsaturated fats. safflower oil and corn oil are not thought to contribute to heart disease but don't offer the same protection as monounsaturated fats. there are no such laws. Unsaturated Fats Unsaturated fats come in the form of monounsaturated fats and polyunsaturated fats. cakes and pies are likely to contain trans fats unless stated otherwise. Using mashed avocado as a dip or filling for a jacket potato instead of mayonnaise or cream cheese. Baked goods such as donuts. it can make the diet more palatable and help you to increase your caloric intake without adding bulk. avocados. You can avoid trans fats by avoiding all foods that list hydrogenated or partially hydrogenated fats or shortenings on their labels.
such as salmon or mackerel. Seven Seas has been recommended by the Foods Standards Agency previously. prevent osteoporosis and help with a number of other ailments . Fish oil is usually only available in capsule form (because of the taste). and arthritis . Try adding 2-4 28 . per week is the current recommendation for overall health benefits. EFA Supplements Eating 1-3 portions of oily fish. improve diabetes. Compare food labels to see what the energy (kcal) per 100g is. and this imbalance contributes to long-term diseases such as heart disease. if your diet is reasonably low in fat intake. reproductive. the research is limited at this time and there is no need to gulp down fish oil supplements every day. immune. unsalted nuts instead of biscuits. Snacking on uncooked. and nervous system as well as healthy skin. EFAs are required for a healthy cardiovascular. Note: not all low fat foods are healthy or low in energy. There is convincing research to show that increasing our intakes of Omega-3 can improve cholesterol levels. Choosing fruit or healthy option desserts instead of cakes. puddings and pastries.68]. Essential Fats Essential fatty acids (EFAs) are a class of polyunsaturated fats that have received a lot of attention in the media. Omega-6 and Omega-9. however plant-based essential fatty acids are widely available as an oil (with a much more acceptable taste). a touch of garlic and seasoning instead of butter and milk. lower blood pressure. Alternatively. particularly in relation to Omega-3. However. improve arthritis. prevent clogged arteries. A typical western diet tends to have too much Omega-6. cancer. There are three types of essential fatty acids – Omega-3. asthma.The Essential Guide to Building Muscle • • • Making mashed potatoes with olive oil. Be aware that there are some concerns over environmental pollutants found in some brands of fish oils. You can supplement this with fish oil capsules on days that you don’t eat fish. you could supplement with an omega oil blend. 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. hair and bones.
2 and 2.Reduce Alcohol Intake Many people believe that the calories from alcohol are automatically stored as fat. even in women. however relatively little gets stored as fat. At a little over 100 calories per tablespoon.73] and finally. 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. Water Water has received a lot of attention in the last few years. 29 . these fluids can come from drinks other than water and also water-rich foods. Celebrities swear by it and it seems that everyone is telling us to drink more of it. is very beneficial for burning fat. But just how much water do we need? According to a report published in the Journal of the American Dietetic Association. 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. this can make a significant contribution to your increased energy needs. Secondly. some lean muscle tissue. It is true that alcohol can’t be used by the body as a fuel for energy.71]. 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 . too much alcohol can make it very difficult to lose fat… Firstly. we need between 2.9 litres (9-12 cups) of noncaffeinated.The Essential Guide to Building Muscle tablespoons per day of flaxseed oil or Udos Choice 3 6 9 Oil blend to salads. However. non-alcoholic fluids each day . However. stews. smoothies and juices or take alone. According to several studies. As we’ll discover in the next section. Rule #6 . it seems to have a negative effect on lean muscle mass . However. alcohol appears to increase our appetites causing us to eat more at a meal that includes a drink [70. it also limits the body’s ability to burn fat [72.
Snack 4pm Dinner 6. 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.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.The Essential Guide to Building Muscle Drinking cold water can increase your metabolic rate as your body expends energy to heat it up  although there is certainly no need to avoid cold water when on a muscle building programme. 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.30pm MORNING WORKOUT Pre-Workout 6am Workout 7am 1 scoop whey protein Intra-workout drink: 1 scoop whey mixed with fruit juice. as additional protein may increase the risk of dehydration. try switching it with the shake mid morning. 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.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.
As for gaining lean weight. However. creatine has also proven to be effective. 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. this is probably due to increased muscle water content and not additional muscle tissue. In this section. 31 . 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. This may be the result of allowing increased workload during sessions and also favourable changes in protein metabolism. 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. Supplements The sports supplement industry is big business and the “muscle-building” sector is particularly lucrative. creatine can lead to additional and more rapid gains in muscle mass. During a 5-day intensive loading phase. 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. evidence suggests that taking 3 grams per day for 30 days will elicit the same results. As well as any water retention. However. there is often very little compelling evidence for the majority of sports supplements.
soups and stews. no increased incidence of negative side effects have ever been found. Whey protein is useful as part of a pre. muscle tears and stomach upset have been reported anecdotally. It’s particularly useful to increase the protein content of a meal or the diet as a whole. derived from different sources and each with there own digestive properties. Whatever the source a protein powder is derived from. By far the most popular type of protein is whey. 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 . and as part of a convenient.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. casein and egg white. porridge. There are a wide range of proteins available. brown rice. whole foods. but objective research doesn’t agree. pea and hemp protein. easy-to-prepare snack. Flavoured protein powders mixed with water can make a palatable drink before meals to increase the protein content. intra and post-workout shake and also mixes well into smoothies. is as an adjunct to a balanced diet based predominantly on natural. Plant-based derivatives include soy. Protein Powders Protein powder is probably the top selling sports supplement on the market – particularly amongst those who are aiming to build muscle mass. 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.a measure of how readily the broken down protein can be used by the cells of the body. There are a number of types of whey protein with claims that some are superior to others. One of two proteins to come from milk. Where it can be useful however. whey is said to have a high biological value . Protein powders derived from animal sources include whey. Side effects such as muscle cramps. it is not a magic bullet. Despite numerous studies into creatine supplementation.
Intense exercise can lead to an increase in free radicals and antioxidants (such vitamin C and E) may help to combat this. dairy or don’t eat much fruit and vegetables) then a low-potency supplement may be useful. Unlike protein powders. 33 .co. MRPs contain some carbohydrates and fat and are very often fortified with extra vitamins and minerals. taken in excess antioxidants can actually increase the damage caused by free radicals. and if they do they are likely to be obtained through extra food intake. However.The Essential Guide to Building Muscle Meal Replacement Powders Meal replacement powders (MRPs) are used for convenient. Choose a brand based on personal preference for taste and also ingredients. The ingredients between MRP brands varies substantially and of course. There are also “weight gainer” MRPs that contain upwards of 500Kcal with most of the extra energy coming from carbohydrate. preservatives and fillers. Alternatively. Some MRPs contain artificial flavours. or more to the point lack thereof. natural ingredients you want at somewhere like http://www.myprotein. portable meals when preparing food just isn’t practical. 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.uk/ Multivitamins & Minerals It’s debateable whether athletes undergoing intense training require additional vitamins and minerals. 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). You can make your own MRP by blending protein powder (or milk) with porridge oats and soft fruit (see Rule #4 above). so does taste and texture. you can design your own formula with just the basic. if you avoid a major food group (such as red meat. They may also add in “secret ingredients” such as glutamine that you will pay extra for and aren’t proven effective.
with zinc supplementation having a significant positive effect . 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. cannot be absorbed by the body. even moderate deficiencies in zinc have been shown to reduce testosterone levels. However. 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. As a supplement. It’s marketed as a supplement to boost immune function and preserve muscle protein during periods of intensive training. particularly in novice weight trainers. Colostrum Colostrum is a protein-rich substance found in mother’s milk during the first days after giving birth.The Essential Guide to Building Muscle In particular. 34 . Glutamine Glutamine is a non-essential (meaning the body can produce it itself without obtaining it from the diet) amino acid. and any ergogenic effect is likely to be relatively small. It could also aid recovery and increase training capacity. It’s expensive however. Research is mixed but some studies have shown that bovine colostrum can have a positive effect on body composition. creatine offers similar benefits and has much ore scientific support. The cost may be prohibitive to many and the general advice is to wait for further research. Ribose Another expensive supplement. it is usually derived from cow’s milk and is known as bovine colostrum. immune function and athletic performance. ribose may offer some benefits to athletes in multi-sprint sports and could help with recovery between sets during weight training sessions.
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. You will find more information and research on these supplements in the MySport Fitness Knowledge Base. While in theory. 35 . but it may be useful for maintaining or improving joint health. Glucosamine Glucosamine won’t have any effect on your body composition or muscle mass. However. 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. Studies are mixed and focus on individuals with existing joint pain or osteoarthritis.The Essential Guide to Building Muscle There is some evidence that glutamine could strengthen the immune system.
even without any form of resistance training. gruelling hours in the gym every day. resistance training also offers the following benefits : • • • • • • • 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. Fortunately. most of that weight will be in the form of fat (although believe it or not. while others are designed for synthetically enhanced bodybuilders. Many of those routines are less than optimal for building muscle mass. excess calories can lead to an increase in lean mass ). Resistance Training Resistance training is the only way to build a significant amount of muscle mass. 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. you don’t need to spend long. websites and books. We’ll also cover cardiovascular exercise and whether it’s a help or a hindrance in the musclebuilding process. If this calorie surplus doesn’t coincide with a suitable exercise programme. There are an inordinate amount of weight training routines and recommendations in magazines. But aside from building muscle.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. The purpose of resistance training is simply to convert as many of those extra calories into muscle mass as possible. 36 . In this section. we’ll look at the kind of resistance training programme that is optimal for building muscle mass (called hypertrophy).
The guidelines that follow are designed to induce muscular hypertrophy. You may be familiar with the “body parts” routine. Typical 3-Day Body Part Routine Monday Chest Arms Wednesday Legs Friday Back Shoulders 37 . protein synthesis (the creation of new protein in the muscle cells) returns to normal within 36-48 hours [3. Resistance Training Guidelines The following guidelines are intended for adults only. legs on day 2 and back & shoulders on day 3. you should seek confirmation from your doctor that it is safe for you to begin a resistance training programme.4]. While you will inevitably become stronger. On a 3-day per week routine. it begins to lose the beneficial changes made following the previous session. If you train a muscle group too frequently. While resistance training can be beneficial and safe even for young children. you might train chest & arms on day 1.The Essential Guide to Building Muscle A lot of people believe that bigger muscles equal stronger muscles but this is not necessarily the case. it requires a different set of guidelines to adults. which works one or two specific body parts each session. Regardless of age. adapt and grow. Perhaps more important than the number of sessions is how often your train each specific muscle group. Anyone under the age of 18 or who hasn’t stopped growing should never lift heavy weights with maximal effort. Frequency Frequency relates to the number of sessions you complete each week. training for maximal strength requires a different set of guidelines. Additionally. But if you don’t train it often enough.4]. you will never give it a chance to recover. That means you should aim to work each muscle group once every 2-5 days. Research has shown that muscle fibres repair from strenuous training after around 5 days [3.
these routines usually call for very high intensity sessions in which the muscle groups are completely exhausted. and it can take over 7 days for your nervous system to recover . Aim to work each muscle group 2-3 times per week. 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.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). Another problem with this approach is that you are also placing your nervous system under a tremendous amount of stress too. so there may be some detraining effect by the time you start your next session. To offset this problem. supersets and drops sets are heavily employed. 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. As we’ll see next. 38 . there are a number of ways to group exercises so that you meet this criteria easily. Lots of exercises and sets per muscle group are used and techniques such as forced repetitions. A more efficient alternative is to follow either a total body routine or an upper body / lower body split routine. Total Body Routine Although it might not be very fashionable with your peers at the gym.
you are still working all the muscle groups once every 3-5 days. The sessions tend to be slightly more intense than the total body routine but your muscles are being worked slightly less frequently.The Essential Guide to Building Muscle As the name suggests. 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. a minimal number of exercises and sets are used for each session. Upper Body / Lower Body Split Routine This routine consists of two sessions . Cons: the only downside is that you are performing the same or similar routine each session. 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 . Depending on how many days you train per week (three or four). At first. Because each muscle group is worked three times per week. each muscle group is worked at least once every 5 days. The two sessions are then alternated. you work all the major muscle groups each session. 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.
But is there an optimal repetition range that you should aim for? According to the National Strength & Conditioning Association (6). 40 . 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. 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.
20]. In this vain. the majority of studies show that multiple sets per exercise are optimal when it comes to building muscle mass and improving strength . 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 [11.10]. 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.e. reduce the weight slightly. lowering the weight) should be controlled rather than just letting the weight fall. A good balance is to aim for 1 to 1.5minutes rest between sets. select a weight that allows you to lift between 6 and 12 repetitions. Recovery Periods Hypertrophy occurs as a result of fatiguing a muscle group over a number of sets. For each exercise you complete.12]. The recommendation is to complete 3 to 6 sets per exercise [6. Once you are able to lift more than 12 repetitions increase the weight next time.19. However. The eccentric phase (i. 41 . which can both have a favourable effect on muscle mass. but you won’t improve as quickly. You may be able to lift heavier weights by using momentum or swinging the bar. Repetition Speed Aim to perform the concentric phase (i. the difficult part) of an exercise with a fast but controlled tempo. short rest periods will significantly decrease your ability to perform each subsequent set to a high intensity. some people believe that the next set should be performed before full recovery has occurred [7. Anything too fast or too explosive will result in poor technique and you won’t actually overload the target muscle group as effectively. However.e.The Essential Guide to Building Muscle Maximal strength and muscular size do not necessarily go hand in hand. If you are unable to reach 6 repetitions. Try lowering the weight to a count of 2 or 3.8]. Another argument for shorter rest periods is that it results in higher levels of testosterone and growth hormone [9.
there is research to suggest that compound exercises stimulate a greater release of naturally occurring testosterone – a potent muscle-building hormone . beyond a certain point you begin to get diminished returns.The Essential Guide to Building Muscle Exercises There are literally an infinite number of resistance exercises to choose from. Good examples include barbell squats. leg presses. sets per exercise: 3-6 No. Start with 5-10 minutes of light cardiovascular exercise such as brisk walking or cycling. deadlifts. exercises per session: 6-10 No. bench presses. here’s what your resistance training sessions should look like: No. 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. You want to select a range of exercises to avoid developing weak areas that can leave you prone to injury and with poor posture. 42 . Summary of Guidelines Based on the guidelines above. Aim to complete your session in 60 minutes or less – including a 510 minute warm up and cool down. You also want to select the exercises that work the largest muscle groups or combination of muscle groups – referred to as compound exercises. Aside from making your routine more efficient. In fact. Time There is no need to spend forever at the gym or on a resistance training session at home. shoulder presses and lat pull downs. sessions per week: 3-4 No. 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.
and to keep the routine more interesting. add some additional weight. you’ll notice that the exercises and the order the muscle groups are worked in. You can use a machine alternative to the free weights exercises below. ** You can increase the intensity of crunches by holding a weights plate to your chest. however free weights work smaller stabilizing muscles that may be neglected with machine exercises.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. However. varies. if you can dip your bodyweight for more than suggested number of reps. performing more repetitions or reducing the rest period. 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. This is simply to allow different muscle groups to be worked at the beginning of the session when you are fresh. However. 43 .
44 . keeping your legs straight instead of bent knees. However.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. holding the position when your legs are fully extended performing more repetitions or reducing the rest period. add some additional weight. if you can chin/dip your bodyweight for more than suggested number of reps. ** You can increase the intensity of leg raises by.
Use correct technique at all times. For example train on Mon / Wed / Fri. 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. You can use a machine alternative to the free weights exercises below. each to be completed twice per week. 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. increase the weight by the smallest increment next session. add some additional weight. reduce the weight on the second and third sets so that you can still perform the desired number of repetitions.The Essential Guide to Building Muscle • • • • • • Perform each of the sessions above once per week but not on consecutive days. 4 – Day Upper Body / Lower body Split Routine There are two sessions in the programme. When you can complete 2 or more repetitions than the suggested maximum. if you can dip your bodyweight for more than suggested number of reps. However. however free weights work smaller stabilizing muscles that may be neglected with machine exercises. If required. It may take a week or two to find the most suitable weights for you. 45 .
Every fourth week. complete only two during your recovery week. In other words. You may also want to stop a repetition or two short of failure for each exercise during this week. it’s important to factor in regular recovery weeks to prevent over training. 46 . the goal is to fatigue muscles enough to bring about muscular hypertrophy. if you completed 4 sets for an exercise before. Every 8-12 weeks consider changing your routine. 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. reduce the volume by half. Because of this.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.
Remember that weight gain of any kind can only occur when you are in a calorie surplus. simply ruling out cardiovascular exercise for fear it burns excess calories is a shortsighted view. It can also consist of short bouts of intense exercise interspersed with recovery periods – known as interval training. it may even help muscles to grow bigger [22-25]. As for the claims that it hinders muscle gain. It brings with it many important health benefits. interval training can burn significantly more calories in the hours following the session. but these are not the same as hypertrophy. anything that burns extra calories is a hindrance rather than a help. In practice. 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. because they can clock up dozens of training hours per week. Pointing out that long-distance athletes are typically very skinny isn’t valid either. 47 . invariably finds that adding the aerobic exercise does not hinder muscle growth in any way. Not only is not detrimental. The question is whether or not it hinders your ability to build muscle. both physiological and psychological. It may also be more beneficial for improving markers cardio-respiratory fitness.The Essential Guide to Building Muscle Cardiovascular Exercise Cardiovascular exercise has unquestionable health benefits. so in theory at least. Aerobic Vs Interval Training Cardiovascular exercise can be low intensity completed at a steady pace known as aerobic exercise. scientific research doesn’t seem to agree… Research comparing a programme of weight lifting alone to the same weight lifting programme plus aerobic exercise. While both forms of exercise burn a similar amount of energy during the sessions.
Note: if you play sport or are involved in any vigorous activity during the week. 48 .The Essential Guide to Building Muscle Remember.7 = 126bpm If you don’t have access to a heart rate monitor you can use a scale of perceived exertion. Your maximum heart rate can be predicted with the following formula: 208 – (Age x 0. Cardiovascular Training Guidelines Here are some simple guidelines for incorporating aerobic exercise into your programme: Frequency Aim to complete three sessions per week. Assuming you are reasonably lean. If you have quite a bit of body fat to begin with.6 = 108bpm 180 x 0. to build muscle you want to limit the amount of energy your burn while still receiving most of the health benefits from cardiovascular exercise. it’s best to stick to a few aerobic sessions per week. aim for a 6-7. Very simply. you are best following guidelines in The Essential Guide To Fat Loss first. 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. In this respect.7) = 208 – 28 = 180 beats per minute (bpm) This figure (180 in this case) is multiplied by 60-70%: 180 x 0.7) For example. that it is difficult to both gain muscle and reduce your body fat stores at the same time. don’t think it will prevent you from gaining weight and muscle mass. a 40year old would have a predicted maximum heart rate of : 208 – (40 x 0. It simply means you’ll have to consume a little more energy than you would if you weren’t involved in those activities. on a scale of 1 to 10 (where 1 is a gentle stroll in the park and 10 is an all-out sprint).
Combining Resistance & Cardiovascular Exercise Ideally. badminton and so on. aerobic classes. If you have limited time to train. brisk walking. cycling. tennis.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. swimming. Type There are many types of suitable cardiovascular exercise – jogging. complete a short aerobic session after you weights session rather than before. try to complete your aerobic exercise sessions on separate days to your weight training. 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 . Avoid the higher intensity classes at your gym such as Spinning® and Body Pump®.
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 .
few if any will make a noticeable change to your body. Copyright Sporting Excellence Ltd. it may not. Neither this book. and certainly not in the presence of poor diet and training.The Essential Guide to Building Muscle To Sum Up… Many elements of fitness seem overly complex or contradictory. As for supplements. 51 . nor any parts within it may be sold or reproduced in any form without prior permission. it becomes clear that just a few principles make the vast majority of the difference. Yet when examine objective research that takes into account as many of the variables as possible. Eating a higher protein diet is likely to help but not as much as consuming enough calories. From a muscle building point of view. 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. All rights reserved.
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