Most people who come to me want to lose weight, build muscle, or both. Depending on what your goals are and where you’re at now, your diet and exercises should vary. Putting on muscle is possible for everyone, but if you do it right, you’ll see results faster.
For those of you out there who are looking to build muscle, here are my top 3 tips:
Eating to maintain, eating to lose, and eating to bulk are all very different. When you’re looking to bulk, you don’t want to be at a caloric deficit or you’ll lose any muscle you would have gained, especially if you’re already lean and you’re looking to gain muscle. It goes without saying that all calories are not equal and you’ll have to figure out what you need to eat more of and less of. It’s best to calculate your target calories for each day in order to know how much you need for a surplus diet. (I mentioned MyFitnessPal in the previous blog—it’s great for this!) Timing of your meals is also important. For example, you’ll want to get some carbs and protein in your system as soon as you can after a workout.
Compound lifts include deadlifts, squats, bench press, dips, pull-ups, and more. They work your body across multiple joints and engage muscle groups instead of isolating muscles and working those out one at a time. Compound exercises are generally more functional exercises because they simulate daily movements and activities. You also engage your core often during compound exercises since balance and coordination are part of the workout. I’d say compound lifts are the quickest way to build up size and strength.
We’ve all been guilty of getting complacent and comfortable in our workouts. But you shouldn’t! This isn’t just about using different muscles, it’s also about making sure you’re not doing the same things over and over again. People often train to a point and then hit a plateau after a while because their muscles adapt to the exercises. Remember to increase resistance, sets, and reps to avoid that plateau. Mixing up your lifts and workouts will also keep you engaged with the exercise (instead of going through the motions) and challenge you. Hopefully, it’ll challenge you mentally as well!
As someone who has had to put on muscle many times, I’m pretty familiar with how to shift my diet and workouts to get quicker results. It usually takes me about 2 weeks to see changes. Putting on mass and maintaining it requires a lot of eating right, training right, and making sure you get enough sleep and recovery time. Think about recovery as part of your workout routine, too! It’s an important part of working on your Sport, Body, and Mind.