In the fitness world, the word ‘gain’ sounds pleasing only if it’s associated with muscles. After all, the same word when used with fat/weight forms ‘fat gain’ and ‘weight gain’ and can create havoc in our paradise.
But all good things come at a price and the price of the much-sort-after ‘muscle gain’ is that of pure dedication, will power, and some knowledge about the science behind muscle growth—which is what gaining muscle mass is primarily about.
Here’s all you need to know and do if you too are looking for this great gain:
Revisit your workout schedule
Monday: chest day, Tuesday: back day, Wednesday: leg day..break…Friday: biceps and triceps’ day, Saturday: core day..break… If this sounds like your weekly workout routine, you’re probably getting decent results. But girl, you deserve better!
According to a study, published in The Journal of Strength and Conditioning Research, training a particular muscle group more frequently, say, twice or thrice a week is more beneficial for muscle growth than training it only once per week.
Basically, your body tends to break down your already-existing muscle in a bid to derive energy for your workout in a process known as muscle protein breakdown (MPB). Simultaneously, your body also releases protein in order to repair any damaged muscle in a process known as muscle protein synthesis (MPS).
In order to gain muscle, the rate of good MPS has to be higher than that of the evil MBP. And working out a muscle group more frequently in a week does just that.
So, you know what? A leg day thrice a week, if you’re planning to get that bomb booty or a full-body workout twice-thrice a week if you’re looking for an overall increase in muscle mass, is the way to go.
Best? Decrease the rest
In order to gain muscle mass, you need to let the precious muscles grow. And in order to make them grow, you’ve got to work ‘em out hard and fatigue them—at least that’s what a study, published in the Journal of Applied Physiology, says.
The best way to do so is to simply stop chit-chatting or checking social media between sets and keeping your rest intervals as short as 30-90 seconds—regardless of the number of repetitions/amount of weight you’re lifting—all this, in order to boost the release of muscle-building hormones, the growth hormone and encourage muscle gain.
Wait! Don’t up the weight
According to several studies, including the one published in the European Journal of Applied Physiology, training with lighter weights and increasing the repetitions can pump up your muscles more, lead to a greater metabolic stress on your muscles, and ultimately result in faster muscle growth as compared to the conventional muscle-building mantra of lifting heavier weights and doing fewer, slower repetitions.
Focus…Refocus on your movements
Just like life, any particular exercise has an easy (eccentric phase) and a difficult (concentric phase) part. During squats, for example, it is easier to lower down the body while being in sync with the gravitational pull than going against gravity to stand back up.
While you might think that concentric phases are responsible for the much-desired muscle growth, working hard during the eccentric phase is what that can reap you some real muscle-gain benefits as per another study published in the journal mentioned above.
The eccentric phase can be made harder by slowing down the easy movements.
Up your protein intake
Another (and a very obvious) way to gain muscle mass is to stop your body from breaking down your muscle to fulfill its energy and protein requirements. This can be done by having enough protein in your diet.
In fact, several studies have proven how eating a good protein source right after your workout can encourage muscle gain by immediately compensating for the protein lost during exercise.
A research conducted at the University of Stirling, recommends eating 0.25-0.30 grams of protein per kilogram of your body weight per meal for optimal muscle growth.
Now, relive your tough complicated schooltime mathematics and calculate by multiplying 0.25 with your bodyweight to find out how much protein you need to eat in a meal, okay?
Say no to calorie deficits
I know this can be a bit hard to digest, but the most common weight-loss approach of eating fewer calories than you’re burning can be particularly disastrous for your muscle mass. This is because, upon sensing a food shortage, the body downshifts its tendency to build muscle.
The result? Your weight might just go down, but it could be due to muscle loss and not fat loss.
The solution? Well, eat 250-300 extra calories per day as according to a study conducted at the Pennington Biomedical Research Center, eating a high-calorie diet rich in protein can store about 45% of those extra cals as muscle.
Eat casein before dozing off
Casein, a type of protein, takes its own sweet time to break down into amino acids and mix up with your bloodstream. And its resulting ability to keep the muscles fed with amino acids for a longer time is defo a blessing in disguise for your precious muscles.
In fact, this golden period of amino-acid circulation can be stretched further to up to 7.5 hours, if casein is consumed before sleeping, as per a study published in the journal Medicine and Science in Sports and Exercise.
So, feast on some cottage cheese, Greek yogurt, or milk before snoozing away to glory.