To gain muscle mass you will need to make changes to both your diet and exercise routine. You will need to consume a high protein diet and stick diligently to a specific training routine. It will take a lot of hours in the gym and a lot of the right foods but if you persist you will gain muscle mass. In this article I discuss a six distinct factors which will affect your muscle building efforts:
1) FREE WEIGHTS VS MACHINES:- Free weights and weight machines can both be used to train almost every muscle in your body. However, free weights are much more effective because they bring secondary muscles into action meaning you train additional muscles by using them. For example, if you use the shoulder press machine it is completely controlled when it goes up and down so you isolate very specific muscles when using it. However, if you do a shoulder press with the dumbells your range of motion is not restricted. You have to use additional muscles to balance the weights as you perform the exercise and new muscles are used because your range of motion is greater than that of a machine.
2) EXERCISE ROUTINE:- Most gyms have standardised exercise routines that you can follow. However, for weight gain a more individual training program is required. You should get a trainer at the gym and consult with them to assess your body type. With most people one area of the body will require additional attention. For example, if you have small biceps, you should do more weight training on your biceps compared with your triceps. This will allow your body to grow proportionately as you gain muscle mass.
Also, different people react differently to certain exercises. You might find that you gain lots of chest muscle from doing the chest press but struggle to pack weight on your biceps. Your friend might be exactly the opposite and build their biceps quickly whilst struggling to bulk up their chest. You will need to experiment under the supervision of your trainer until you find what suits you best and yields the best results. Once you have discovered the areas best exercises for you and the areas of your body that require extra attention, write them down and create your very own, personal exercise routine.
3) REPETITIONS AND SETS:- To gain muscle mass you have to follow very specific guidelines when performing exercise repetitions. The general rule is; very low reps (i.e. just 1 or 2) build strength, low reps help you gain muscle mass and high repetitions help you tone your muscles. Different people have different opinions on how many repetitions are the best for building muscle but I have found between 8-12 repetitions for each exercise to be effective. You should look to perform 3-4 sets of each exercise, so for example a typical chest day might look like:
– Dumbell Chest Press (4 sets with each set consisting of 8 repetitions).
– Barbell Chest Press (4 sets with each set consisting of 8 repetitions).
– Incline Dumbell Chest Press (4 sets with each set consisting of 8 repetitions).
– Decline Barbell Chest Press (4 sets with each set consisting of 8 repetitions).
– Dumbell Flyes (4 sets with each set consisting of 8 repetitions).
You should be struggling to do all the repetitions for each set. If you can do more than 12 then this is a sign that you need to increase the weight you are lifting. When performing the repetitions make sure that you are slow and deliberate to ensure that you are fully working all the muscles involved. Rushing will only lead to you not doing the exercise properly and not realising the full benefits of your training.
4) OVER TRAINING:- Above I have outlined the most effective ways to train if you are trying to gain muscle mass. However, this does not mean you can just take this advice and go all out. Training too much can be detrimental to your muscle building efforts and can be very dangerous. To ensure that you do not over train split your weight lifting routine into three or four specific days. For example:
– Monday = Chest and Triceps.
– Wednesday = Back and Forearms.
– Thursday = Legs.
– Friday = Shoulders and Biceps.
On the other days you should rest. A little cardiovascular exercise is OK on your rest days but no heavy weight training. By having rest days you will avoid over training and give your muscles time to rest, repair and grow. It may also be a good idea to limit each weight training session to under 2 hours and take a whole week off from training every 6-8 weeks.
5) DIET:- To gain muscle mass you need to be eating a high protein diet. Meats are a key factor in a high protein diet because they are rich in protein and help build muscle mass. It is advisable to stick mainly to lean meats (e.g. Chicken breast, white fish) so that you do not take in too much excess fat, but a little red meat also has its benefits when trying to build muscle mass. If you feel that you cannot get enough protein through your diet then you may want to consider protein powders. These are a convenient way to get additional protein in liquid form and used by the majority of bodybuilders.
You also need to increase your overall caloric intake. This might mean that you gain fat as well as muscle but this is not necessarily a bad thing. Additional fat stores means that you will have extra energy and calories to lift heavier weights and gain muscle mass. Once you reach your desired muscle weight you can always change to a fat burning diet for a short period until you reach a happy medium.
6) NUMBER OF MEALS:- If you are eating to gain muscle it is recommended that you increase your number of daily meals to 5 or 6. By eating more regularly you can saturate your body with amino acids and glycogen (gained from carbohydrates and proteins) and ensure that your body does not enter starvation mode (whereby it would start burning muscle tissues).
I hope this article has outlined what you need to consider if you are trying to gain muscle mass. Diet and exercise will determine the amount of muscle you gain but if you do not have accurate information on these topics your muscle building efforts will be frugal. Read the article again then remember this simple sentence; Train Right – Eat Right – Gain Muscle Mass.