To maximise your chances of building muscle and minimising fat in your training programme, take note of these 10 tips:
1. Train at least three times a week
Three sessions per week is the minimum amount of volume needed to create a muscle-building stimulus. Those with significant strength training experience may attempt more sessions.
2. Train with high volume and medium intensity
For each weight training exercise set, perform 10 to 15 repetitions with less than a minute break between sets. Lactic acid causes that burning sensation in muscles when you exercise intensely and this appears to stimulate muscle growth, perhaps from an increase in growth hormone production.
3. Push each exercise set to near ‘failure’
Failure means you could not do one more repetition in a set because of fatigue. For a three-set exercise, you could start off with a heavy weight for 15 repetitions in the first set and then reduce each set by two so that your last set is 11 lifts. Even as you tire, you should attempt a maximum effort for each set.
4. Utilise the ‘big three’ weight training exercises
These are the squat, the deadlift and the bench press. They build strength, condition, and bulk and should always be included in one form or another.
5. Don’t try to train for a marathon and build big muscles at the same time
It makes a great fitness combo if you mix cardio and weights but at the extremes, the training physiology and biochemistry are contradictory and you will not maximise your results unless you concentrate on one or the other.
6. Eat for muscle growth
You will struggle to build muscle in a weight-loss mode when you are cutting calories and exercising at the same time. If you must drop your food intake, at least keep your protein intake the same and reduce fat and refined carbohydrates.
7. Eat sufficient protein
Even if you train hard, the maximum amount of protein you need for muscle building is about 1 gram of protein per pound of body weight per day. A little more or less will not make much difference.
8. Get plenty of sleep and rest
Muscle building, recovery, and repair occur at rest and during sleep. Ensure you get sufficient recovery. Failure to do so may delay your muscle-building efforts and possibly lead to illness and injury.
9. Eat some protein before and after you lift
About 10 to 20 grams of protein consumed about 30 to 60 minutes before you train may help induce a muscle-building effect following training. This is about one-half cup of cooked, diced chicken, or you can try a supplement drink such as whey or soy protein.
10. Set reasonable goals, monitor your progress and be patient
The best bodies are the result of hundreds of hours of effort. Start slowly, and don’t be discouraged if your progress isn’t as rapid as you would like. The fitness and health you attain will be assets that will stay with you for as long as you keep training.