Michael Gales is an athlete, a boxer that now works with Everlast Nutrition and has a wealth of background in exercises and nutrition. He offered me up this article on muscle gaining that I think is spot on for anyone looking to gain muscle but may be a little confused as to what is important and what is just a refinement that will not make much difference.
If you are looking to tone up and stay lean then building new muscle is what you are really after. Aside from firming you up which is aesthetically pleasing building new muscle will increase your metabolism which will make it easier to ward off unwanted body fat.
There are a lot of misconceptions floating around due to the fact that there are chemicals out there that can make a person artificially anabolic (muscle building).
If you are looking to do it the all-natural and healthy way then the following 6 truths about gaining new muscle will explain how to get it done.
Exercise Intensity to Build Muscle
This is the number one concept that most people get wrong when they want to gain some muscle. Your body is an adaptable machine but it will only adapt if it feels that it must. When you train, your muscles will develop little microscopic tears in them. Your body can repair those tears and make your muscles a little bigger.
Heavier objects call for a larger recruitment of muscle fibers and thus you will have tears spanning over a greater amount of muscle. To make a long story short; the best way to force that adaptation of your muscle is to increase the intensity and lift a little heavier weight.
Many women are in fear of lifting heavier weights as they believe that they will become muscle bound. The truth is that they lack the hormones to naturally do so.
The women that they see walking around at 200lbs of lean muscle did not become that way via natural means so there is no need to worry. Women are not in danger of becoming a hulk by increasing the intensity of their resistance training. What they will see is a more effective program that produces better results.
I would recommend that women looking to gain some lean muscle aim for 10 repetitions per set. Men should aim for 8 – 10 per repetitions per set.
That means that by the time you got to that 10th rep you should barely be able to complete another. If you find that you still have a lot left in the tank then you need to go heavier as your current resistance level is too low to elicit an adaptation that will effectively gain new muscle.
Importance of Protein Intake
In order for you to gain some new muscle you are going need the building blocks to make it. I mentioned that your muscles will sustain some microscopic damage when you train and your body will need materials to make some repairs. Your muscles are made of amino acids which in fact are protein.
I would recommend that you have at least .75 grams of protein per pound of lean body mass. So if you weighed a lean 100lbs then you would consume 75 grams of protein per day. That is from your diet in total and not just from supplements. Try to remember that supplements are there to augment your diet and not replace it.
Rest and Recovery after Workouts
Once again we go back to that concept of your muscles undergoing microscopic trauma during training. In point 2, I noted that your body will use some protein to make those repairs. Your body will also need time, at least 48 hrs. to complete those repairs. Thus rest becomes an important factor in building muscle. This is why you do not want to train your legs with resistance every day.
I would recommend that you rest them for 72hrs to ensure that the repairs have been completed.
Positive Calorie Intake
This is another concept that people seem to ignore when they are trying to gain new muscle. Let’s say for arguments sake that your body was burning 2000 calories a day. If you add new muscle then it also will need more nutrition for it to survive.
So you might now be burning 2500 calories per day. Well your body is a great mathematician and it knows that if it is eternally put at a caloric deficit then you will not survive very long. Your body wants to keep you alive and so it won’t add on some new muscle unless it knows that you have the ability to feed it.
This is why I recommend to those that are trying to gain muscle to increase their caloric intake by at least 500 calories per day.
Exercise Output Progression
Keep in mind that your body will adapt to the increase in intensity. That means that after a period of time you may have to increase the intensity even more to continue gaining new muscle.
Your body also makes neurological adaptations that make the movements that you routinely perform more efficient.
Thus you may want to switch things up to keep your body guessing and adapting. This could be in the form of new exercises, different intensity levels and different rest periods between sets.
Rome wasn’t built in a day and you will not gain muscle overnight. It takes about 6 to 10 weeks for muscle hypertrophy (increase in muscle size) to be noticeable. For the best results you will want to train your muscles consistently and with a certain frequency.
I would recommend that you train each muscle group (with intensity) at least once per week.
Also keep in mind that you do need to rest and as such I would not train each muscle group more than twice per week. The most effective program will be the one that strikes a balance between training with regularity while providing enough rest so that your muscles are not over trained.
Michael Gales has a B.Sc. in Exercise science and has worked for many years in the fitness industry as a nutritional and supplement expert as well as a certified strength and conditioning specialist (CSCS). He has also been a professional athlete, amateur boxer and currently works for Everlast Nutrition as an expert fitness consultant, also affectionately referred to as ‘Head Trainer’ for Everlast Nutrition.