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What Does it Take to Build Muscle Mass?
Are you looking to build up an impressive physique that will have people walking by do a double take? Or are you currently struggling to attain the muscle mass that you want or just looking for accurate information on the best ways to increase muscle mass progression? If you said yes to any of these questions, you will be able to find that information here. There are many factors to consider when dealing with ways to increase muscle mass. What type of resistance training is best to create muscular hypertrophy? How many reps and how much weight should be used to stimulate growth? What kinds of nutrients should you be putting into your body? How many calories are needed to fuel muscle growth? What are the best supplements that should be taken to get an extra edge? These are all valid questions and will be looked at individually throughout this article.
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What Type of Resistance Training Should be Done?
Most experts agree that a program that focuses on heavy weight, moderate reps (8 – 12), and multiple sets (3 – 6) is the best way to create muscular hypertrophy. If you do too much weight with too few reps (4 – 6), you are primarily working on building strength. If you do too many reps (15+) with too little weight, you are primarily focusing on muscular endurance. That’s not to say that you won’t be able to build any muscle mass doing lower or higher repetitions, but a moderate range of 8 – 12 reps is the best range for muscle growth.
Another thing to take into consideration is the progressive overload principle. What this means basically is that no matter what weight or rep range you use, you should always continue to increase the amount nearly every workout in order to challenge your body further. Unfortunately, the body does a great job adapting to stimuli so if you continue to perform the same amount of weight with the same amount of reps, your body will adapt to it and you will see less gains as you go on. Once you reach 12 reps with a certain weight and your muscles still aren’t fatigued by the last set, it’s time to increase the weight and drop the reps so that you can work your way back up again.
You may also consider splitting up muscle groups on different days. This means that on Monday you might perform chest exercises and on Tuesday you might do back, so on and so forth. Doing multiple exercises per muscle group is a great way to fatigue the muscles and to make sure that every single muscle fiber is being worked and used. The more muscle fibers firing throughout the workout, the more potential there is for growth during the recovery phase. Another option would be to split muscle groups by doing back and chest on Mondays, quads and hamstrings on Wednesdays, and biceps, triceps, and shoulders on Fridays. Just make sure that you do multiple exercises (2 – 3) per muscle group and try to finish the routine in about 45 minutes so that you don’t get your body into a catabolic state.
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What About Nutrition?
When trying to build muscle mass, one of the most important things that you can do for your body is to give it a plethora of nutrients to help it rebuild the muscle fibers used during an intense workout. In order to do this, you must eat, eat, and eat some more. Basically what you need to do is figure out how many calories your body needs each day and increase that amount anywhere from 300 – 500 calories. For example, if your body needs 3000 calories each day, you should be eating anywhere from 3300 to 3500 calories in order to supply your body with the calories it needs to build muscle. To figure out how many calories your body uses each day, go to MayoClinic.com and use their Calorie Calculator. All you need to do is put in your age, weight, height, sex, and activity level and it will give you a fairly accurate estimate on what your body uses on a daily basis. Then add 300 – 500 calories to that total.
Does eating more calories mean that you can “pig out”? Not necessarily. You don’t need to be super strict and eat chicken breasts, broccoli, and kidney beans all the time, but you also don’t want to be scarfing down Big Mac’s every day either. You still need to think about cholesterol and things along those lines. If you give your body food sources rich in nutrients, your body will respond better than filling it full of junk food. Really good foods include steaks, chicken, seafood, sweet potatoes, eggs, cheese, nuts, milk, etc. You can still throw in some fast food, but try to balance it with some healthy choices as well. Also, try to maintain a nutrient ratio of 60 percent carbohydrates, 20 percent protein, and 20 percent fat. This is an optimal nutrient range for muscle growth.
If you are having a problem increasing your total amount of calories, there are supplements that are available to help give your body the nutrients and calories that it needs. Meal replacement shakes and bars are great ways to get some extra calories and nutrients into your body. In fact, it is a really good idea to drink a meal replacement shake before and after a workout. At the very least, it is a really good idea to drink one right after a workout or no later than 45 minutes afterwards to get nutrients to the muscles fast for recovery. Another supplement that can help muscle growth is Creatine, though some studies suggest that it is mostly water weight that is gained. It may be worth checking out if you want some extra help. Also, make sure you are keeping yourself hydrated as drinking plenty of water is essential to supplying nutrients to your body for muscle growth.
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Rest and Recovery
Last but not least, rest and recovery is vital for muscle growth. If you are doing a split muscle group routine, you will want to rest that muscle group for nearly a week, depending on the amount of exercises and repetitions performed. For a multiple muscle routine, it would be wise not to do each pair of muscle groups more than two times a week. Not giving your muscles enough time to rest and recover will allow for the muscle fibers to continually be torn down without being given a chance to repair themselves for new growth.
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RirianProject.com (2011, February 18). Top Ten Ways to Build Muscle Mass Fast. Retrieved from http://ririanproject.com/2008/03/18/top-10-ways-to-build-muscle-mass-fast/
MayoClinic.com (2011, February 18). Calorie Calculator. Retrieved from http://www.mayoclinic.com/health/calorie-calculator/NU00598
BodyFatGuide.com (2011, February 18). Muscle Mass Myths. Retrieved from http://www.bodyfatguide.com/MuscleMassMyths.html