Muscle building is incredibly important for both men and women for many reasons. Not only does muscle give you a better-looking physique, but it provides more energy, improves balance and posture, boosts your metabolism, and lowers your risk for osteoporosis. Strengthening your muscles protects your bones and makes you less susceptible to fractures as you age.
Women often have the misconception that lifting weights will make them “bulky” or “manly,” but this is not the case. Strength training tones the body for a strong, healthy, and aesthetically pleasing physique.
However, while building muscle is incredibly important, it isn’t quite as easy as it might seem. Muscle building requires specific components that foster growth.
Here are five ways to build more muscle and increase performance:
Increase protein intake to build muscle
You can spend all the time you want in the gym, but if you don’t provide your body with the nutrients required, your muscles will not grow. Protein is key to muscle building. The amino acids found in protein are the building blocks for muscle growth.
Try to consume 1-1.5 grams of protein per pound of bodyweight. Ideally, you would like to consume protein at every meal, especially right after your workout.
Post-workout is when your anabolic window is highest, allowing your muscles to repair more quickly. Protein powders are a great way to reach your daily protein goals. Just read the labels and avoid any artificial sweeteners or fillers.
Progressive overload refers to the gradual increase in weight, frequency, or reps you perform during your fitness routine. By systematically placing added stress on the musculoskeletal system, you force the muscles to grow.
Lifting light weights will not promote muscle growth regardless of how many reps you do. It’s essential to challenge your body by progressively increasing the weight as you become stronger.
Progressive overload continues to challenge the body, so you avoid reaching a plateau. Gradually increasing the weight enhances your performance, strength, and overall muscle size.
Rest and repair
It’s incredibly important to allow your muscles time to recover. Lifting causes the muscles to break down, and growth happens when you rest.
Avoid working out the same muscle group back to back days. A good rule of thumb is to have an upper/lower body split routine. Having a split workout routine allows for optimal growth and repair.
How does stretching improve performance?
You may think stretching is irrelevant when it comes to muscle growth, but it actually plays a significant role. Our muscles are enclosed in a bag of tough connective tissue known as fascia. Fascia holds the muscles in their proper place in your body.
However, because fascia is so tough, it restricts muscle growth. The muscles can not grow unless the fascia expands. This connective tissue constricts the muscle from within, making it impossible for it to grow.
When the muscles are full of blood after a workout, stretching allows the fascia to expand, thus creating more muscle-building space. As a result, your muscles are no longer restricted and are free to grow.
Calorie surplus and muscle growth
One thing I’ve learned over many years of weight training is that muscles need fuel to grow. You cannot expect to build muscle while in a calorie deficit. In addition to eating an adequate amount of protein, be sure you’re getting enough overall calories.
Keep in mind; carbohydrates are just as important as protein for muscle growth. Carbohydrates contribute to the increased size and speed of muscle growth by supplying your body with critical nutrients required for energy and optimal performance.
Do not underestimate the importance of building and sustaining muscle for physical health and longevity. Strength training is incredibly valuable for your overall strength, appearance, and well-being. Use these tips to build more muscle and increase performance for an amazing body you can be proud of.