When it comes to good health and exercise, most of the world now recognizes that we must do cardiovascular exercise along with resistance training exercise….the former for good heart/vascular system health…the latter for building and maintaining an adequate amount of muscle to power our skeletal “frame” (and also to exert force on our bones to stimulate density)
Most of us know how to jog, bike, hike, swim, etc., so we have that part figured out. For resistance training and muscle building, however, many people flail around at the gym. Even those who know HOW to train perhaps don’t know HOW TO FUEL that training.
Truth is, if we don’t provide our bodies with the proper chemicals (fuel/food) our muscles will not develop as well as they could……and if we don’t know exactly which style of resistance stressor(s) to load, then we are further missing out on that muscle development.
This article will offer some easy-to-understand ideas about just how to build muscle.
First, let’s take the exercise part: We know that our muscle tissue consists of Type I fibers for endurance, and Type II fibers for strength & power (there are also a couple of hybrids but we’ll avoid that for now). We also know that light resistance/high reps will improve endurance while heavy resistance/low reps improves strength.
Well…in between those two lies the “moderate” range…..moderate resistance/moderate reps. This translates to sets of (10) reps using “moderately light-to-moderately heavy” resistance. This style or phase of training is referred to as “hypertrophy” (opposite of atrophy). This is the tissue-building phase.
If you want to increase muscle volume (size or density), always include this phase in your training. It’s almost counter-intuitive since most think that heavy weights creates muscle. While ANY phase will generate SOME amount of tissue building…this phase gets the best results. Try 3 sets of (10) reps and you’ll like the results!
So….now you’re out of the gym…had a great workout…and you’re ready for those wonderful results! Well you still have some work to do.
During a workout, you are tearing down muscle tissue, and the body wants to repair that micro-damage….it’s what we do….but it needs chemicals to accomplish that. Firstly, we just burned up a lot of “sugar” (not body fat) so we better get some back into our systems or else the body will break down lean mass to get those chemicals. And this process happens pretty quickly!
We need replacement “sugar” and also building blocks (amino acids) for the repair. This translates to getting both sugar and protein, and we better get it within 30-40 minutes after our workout. Research shows that this is the approximate efficient window of opportunity.
Now…one HUGE mistake people make: Too much protein…not enough sugar! Here’s the recommended ratios: sugar over protein—4:1 down to 2:1 ratio. One trick we trainers have used for years is to simply drink low-fat chocolate milk after the workout, then a good meal about an hour later. That chocolate milk provides good ratios of sugar and very clean protein.
So, to review: The simple way to build muscle?
Perform resistance training with (3) sets of (10) reps per exercise.
Consume chocolate milk immediately (or if you cannot tolerate dairy just consume some simple sugar(s) with lean meat/poultry…and if you’re a vegetarian consume simple sugars with “complimentary” plant-based protein foods–regardless of which method just make sure to calculate the approximate ratios mentioned above)
Do this within about a half hour after your workout, a good meal about an hour later.
Sounds easy? Sometimes yes, sometimes no, but if you want to really build muscle size and density, this discipline will get you the results you want.
(One note here: Males will build “size” much more than females due to our internal chemistry and testosterone levels so girls: Don’t think you’ll get “big”…you won’t! What you’ll get is “shape” and you’ll like what you see!)