Overthinking leads to confusion. When it comes to building quality muscle keep your mindset clear and simple.
By Andrew Carruthers, Editor-In-Chief. Athlete Albert Le Roux. Photography by Soulby Jackson (www.skjphotography.co.za).
Practical and simple information is the nuts and bolts to good solid muscle building. With so much hype and so much invalid information out there these days, always remember that the best way to grow quality muscle is to keep everything simple. An I mean everything.
The following 10 tips are the nuts and bolts of a bodybuilding lifestyle and if you can keep a clear head when thinking about training and nutrition and not get lost in the sea of information out there, you’ll soon find yourself doing a double take the next time you step on the scale to check if you’ve put on any size.
1. Eat More!
Eating more often can be a tedious task, but trying to gain serious size on 3-4 meals a day is also standup comedy. Schedule a meal every 2 to 3 hours and your absorption and assimilation of those precious nutrients will be at an all time high.
2. Take in more fat!
Omega-3 fatty acids found in fish, preferably salmon help with muscle inflammation. Good fats also improve the formation of glycogen and enhance protein synthesis. Aim to eat fish, such as salmon at least 3 times a week and also try supplement with around 7 grams of fish oils daily.
3. Take in more protein!
Yeah that’s right, I’m mentioning it again. Most bodybuilders (successful ones and not the ones weighing 55kg in your gym) advocate that 2 grams of protein per lean kilogram of muscle you are carrying should be sufficient as a daily intake. The truth is, you can increase that to 3 or even 4 grams of protein per kg of lean muscle weight on your frame. Increasing protein intake enhances protein synthesis and prevents muscle breakdown. The overall effect you’re looking for is anabolism (growing) instead of catabolism (losing muscle).
4. Take in more carbs!
6 grams of carbs per kg of body weight daily will provide your body with plenty of calories for energy and intensity during training. It’s important to take in this many carbs simply to prevent your body from having to tap into protein source calories to support growth and recovery. You’ll also find that your body won’t tear down muscle during training because there is enough energy readily available. Good carbs are also a good clean source of energy, so the chances of excess energy turning into fat are also highly unlikely.
5. Rest more between sets!
I don’t know where some of these so called gurus come up with this 45-50 seconds in-between sets crap. If you’re training at maximum intensity and just pushed big weight for 8-12 reps, it takes a while longer than a minute to catch your breath. In fact, it takes a trip to the water fountain, a few hunched over sessions of air gasping and even a small leaning session on a machine when you get back to the bench before you’re ready to push the next set. Don’t be afraid to take your time until you get your breath back and no that’s not permission to check your social media apps on your phone and call it rest.
6. Don’t eliminate sugar!
As much as sugar gets a bad rap when it comes to bodybuilding, it actually has it’s place in the bigger picture. Fast digesting carbs, or simple sugars as they are known actually assist with the prevention of cortisol (the stress hormone) post training. Cortisol is a muscle wasting hormone caused by stress inside the body. 100 grams of carbs straight after a workout, not only helps replenish lost energy, but also helps shoot the body back into an anabolic state. If you’re dieting or trying to get lean then that’s a whole different story, but for the purpose of this article we are talking exclusively about growing muscle.
7. Get supplement smart!
An anabolic cocktail of choice is glutamine with a creatine chaser. Two grams of glutamine post-workout can increase natural growth hormone levels and up to 10 grams of creatine can push water into the muscle and activate protein synthesis. Drinking liquid carbs during training is also highly advantageous to training for muscle growth.
8. Throw in one or two heavy weight sets with low reps.
Variety is the spice of life with training and performing one or two heavy weight sets with low reps, especially with compound moves such a deads, squats or bench press can and will get you to grow!
9. Increase insulin secretion!
Get creative and smart with your nutrition. 350mg of Alpha lipoic acid will promote the uptake of carbohydrates into the muscle and 200 micrograms of chromium
10. Limit workout volume
Try reducing the amount of sets you perform per body part. Doing too many can trigger a catabolic hormone release which impacts on rest and recovery. The so called “ideal” mass building set range is between 6 and 8 sets comprising of 2 exercises for smaller body parts and 10-12 sets comprising three exercises for larger body parts. The smarter and more intensely you train, the less work you have to do. Remember it’s not about annihilation, it’s about stimulation. Know the difference.