We’ve discussed why muscle mass is so important and how your body creates or destroys muscle. Now, we’re going to give our top 3 practical tips to help you build muscle.
Note that when we say “muscle building” we don’t mean striving to become the hulk. Most people can benefit from building a little more muscle mass, from both a physical health and quality of life perspective.
Tip #1: Volume is Your New Favorite Word
To get the volume of a jar, you’d multiply the height x width x length. In the weight room, you calculate volume by multiplying reps x sets x weight. For example, if you do 4 sets of kettlebell deadlifts with 40lbs. In each set, you do 12 reps. Your total volume for deadlifts is 1,920.
This is a long-winded way of saying that to build muscle, you need to do more sets, reps and/or use more weight. The cool thing about volume is that you can increase any of the three variables in isolation or use a combination. The important thing is that, over time, your volume goes up for each exercise.
Tip #2: Eat More Protein if You’re Losing Weight
Most people who exercise are trying to lose some fat, even if it’s only a tiny bit. To lose fat, you need to be in a calorie deficit (burning more calories than you take in).
When you’re in a calorie deficit, you lose muscle mass very quickly. However, you can maintain and even build muscle mass by eating enough protein. When you’re losing weight your protein requirements actually go up. Since you’re probably already eating less food to lose weight, that means protein will become a substantial part of your diet!
Aim for 1 gram of protein per pound of bodyweight per day.
Tip #3: Rest
Weight training stimulates your muscles to grow, but they don’t really start growing until you rest. It’s no secret that sleep is one of the biggest things missing from every adult’s life (particularly if you live in NYC).
However, sleeping isn’t the only way to rest. One way to help your muscles recover is by doing less on your days off. Running on your days off, for example, can make it harder to gain muscle. Too much walking can even make it harder. Remember that your body only builds muscle when it has enough resources, and resting more gives your body more resources to grow.