Building muscle has its perks, from looking more toned to strengthening body parts that can make day-to-day tasks easier. But if you’re trying to build muscle while keeping your weight in check, it can be challenging to know how much to lift or what rep ranges work best. A little guidance from experts is always helpful.
The primary factors that trigger muscle growth (also known as hypertrophy) are mechanical tension, damage to muscles and the metabolic response. Increasing the load or resistance on a lift or adding sets increases the amount of time muscles are under tension, which triggers damage and repair. And the metabolic response is how your muscles burn more energy to grow bigger.
A slew of smaller factors can affect how quickly and effectively you build muscle, such as your diet, how many calories you consume and how well you sleep. But a few key habits can make or break your efforts.
Muscles are made out of protein, and most people don’t eat enough of it to maximize muscle growth. Aim for 0.8 grams of protein per pound of your bodyweight each day, which works out to about 200 calories a day from proteins like chicken, eggs, fish, whey powder and Greek yogurt. You also need to eat enough carbs and fats to provide your body with the fuel it needs to perform and recover from exercise, and to support protein synthesis.
Keep track of your diet:
Using an online meal tracking tool, such as MyFitnessPal or a food journal, is a great way to help you track your macros (the nutrients that make up the majority of your diet). When you focus on eating more of the right foods, it can be a lot easier to meet your protein goals for muscle building.
Do the right exercises:
When it comes to building muscle, the type of exercises you do matter just as much as how hard you do them. Beginners should start with bodyweight exercises, such as squats or push-ups, to learn how to properly perform the movement and become familiar with their own strength level. Once they’re comfortable with these basic moves, it’s time to add weight and increase the number of repetitions, says Sekely.
Get enough rest:
While getting adequate sleep is important for your overall health, it’s especially critical if you want to build muscle. Sleep allows your body to replenish muscle glycogen and protein levels, which supports the growth of new muscle tissue.
Avoid the all-out sets:
The “sweet spot” for building muscle may be somewhere between 60 and 85% of your one-rep max (1RM), which equates to around eight to 12 reps per set. Going higher or lower than this could mean you’re not stressing your muscles in the right range for hypertrophy, or that you’re lifting too heavy and risking injury. build muscle