When it comes to putting on new muscle mass, people often overcomplicate things. While building muscle isn’t an easy or quick process, it doesn’t need to be mentally stressful. In much the same way as everything else in life, following the KISS rule – keep it simple, stupid – will take you far. To help guide you along the way, here are five basic rules to implement in your growth season to see the results you’re looking for.
Your training plan is how you’ll lay the foundation for growth. However, over time, the body adapts to the demands you put on it, including training. If you continuously follow the same training principles, the impact will decrease as the body learns how to adapt to them. It’s easy to get stuck in the habit of following the same training split, using the same number of sets and reps, or even the same weight.
To make sure you continue to see change, implement progressive overload with your training. The concept is simple: continue to make your workouts more challenging so your body needs to consistently work hard. Every five to six weeks, alter components of your training, from sets and reps, to exercise selection, to the weight you use, and even your training split. To see continued growth in both muscle size and strength, and avoid adaptation, keep challenging your body with new demands.
Pre- and Post- Workout Nutrition
Consistently eating your meals and hitting your macros is critical to building muscle. However, there are two meals where it’s even more important – pre- and post-workout. The focus pre-workout should be to provide your body with the energy it needs to train. Following your session, the goal switches to using nutrients to repair the damage.
Before your workout, a beneficial meal would consist of a carb source that provides a quick boost of energy, along with lean protein to aid in the muscle protein synthesis process. A small amount of dietary fat may be added for sustained energy, as well. Keeping this meal on the lighter side will aid digestion to avoid any bloating or cramping while you train. For example, egg whites with oats or cream of rice, topped with a serving of natural nut butter, or if you have a smaller appetite, stick to a protein shake and a banana.
Once the work is done, supply your body with the protein it needs immediately following the workout to help you recover, and then take in carbs with your meal about an hour later to help replenish the energy you used. At this point, a lean protein option is still desirable, but the carbs can be a combination of simple and complex to target both quick and sustained processing. If you’re prepping your post workout meal, chicken breast with white rice and a small piece of fruit will provide your body with the nutrients it needs and restore your glycogen levels.
If you’re trying to make the most of each workout throughout your growth phase, proper supplementation can go a long way. However, figuring out what products are going to help you the most can be confusing. Focusing on your two main needs right now – physical recovery and muscle building – will help narrow your choices.
When it comes to recovery, glutamine and BCAAs should top your list. These two supplements will replenish your body’s stores of vital amino acids which are depleted through training sessions. Keeping these full will allow your body to continuously recover from your training sessions, rather than slowing the process due to insufficient levels. Rely on high quality products, such as Kaged Muscle’s fermented glutamine and BCAAs. The fermentation process ensures that the product is pure, contains no animal by-products, and is fast dissolving for smooth digestion.
When it comes to building muscle, protein supplements are an obvious staple product. However, many athletes have a hard time breaking down whey protein products, which is why Kaged Muscle’s RE-KAGED contains the digestive enzyme ProHydrolase. This eases the digestive process to avoid any bloating or discomfort as the protein gets to work in your body. Another aspect to consider is implementing a slow-release protein, such as KASEIN, before going to bed. This will provide nutrients throughout the night while your body is hard at work recovering and rebuilding. Implementing both types of protein will help your body grow around the clock.
Rest and Recover
Muscle does not grow in the gym. The fibers are broken down when you train, and are only able to rebuild when the stress is removed – during rest. This is the reason you’re advised to leave 24 – 48 hours between working the same muscle group, so you don’t inflict more damage before it has a chance to recover.
For people who love to train, taking time off can seem like a punishment. But if you’re looking to make solid progress, this outlook needs to change. Not only does this time allow your muscles to rebuild, it also gives your body a chance to replenish its energy stores so you can come back to the gym ready to work harder.
During your growth phase, taking the time to rest and recover is even more important. Building muscle requires heavy lifting, which is a stressor on your whole body – muscles, joints, tendons, ligaments, and your central nervous system. Just because your muscles don’t feel sore doesn’t mean that the rest of your system is ready to get back to work yet. Timing rest days after a particularly challenging training sessions is a wise move. For example, following a leg or back day, or a specific muscle group you are focused on improving.
While it may seem counterproductive, time away from the gym is what will enhance your results, so rest up!
Beyond being a staple nutrient for survival, water plays a direct role in your body’s ability to grow. Water is needed to help transport nutrients and oxygenated blood throughout your body to the working muscles. When the proper nutrition is paired with hydration, your muscles receive what they need to keep pushing through the workout, as well as to start the rebuilding process.
When you’re dehydrated, you can quickly find yourself dealing with negative physical effects. Fatigue, dizziness, and muscle cramping are all common side effects of dehydration, which can hinder your training session, or shut it down altogether. Ensure you’re able to put your maximum effort into your workouts to build mass by staying hydrated all day. Kaged Muscle’s Hydra-Charge will help you hit your hydration with five essential electrolytes from coconut water powder, and its great taste.
Remember, don’t overthink the process or try to incorporate too many nutrition and training principles at the same time. These rules may not flashy, but applying them consistently throughout your growth phase will yield solid results. The bottom line to always consider is that your body doesn’t want to grow, it needs to be coerced into it. You can persuade it by following these five tips all year long. Now, go out and get big!