According to a recent survey, the Netherlands is the country with the most active people, spending more than 12 hours a week exercising, while the global average is six hours per week.
If you are thinking of upping your exercise, you may be looking for the best way to gain muscle. After all, if you’re going to work out, you want it to be worth it.
Yet, it’s not as easy as simply lifting more weights.
Whether you want to tone your body or gain serious muscle, we’ve compiled the most effective ways to build muscle mass, so keep reading below to become your strongest self.
Set Your Strength Goals
When attempting any workout routine, it’s important to start out by setting achievable goals.
You may want to set a specific number of pounds of muscle that you want to gain, but this is not always the most effective way. If you select a deadline and end up missing your mark, you may be less motivated to continue on.
This can stunt your progress instead of contributing to it.
It can also be daunting to set huge goals at the start. Gaining muscle takes a lot of work, but you want to ensure you aren’t psyching yourself out.
Instead, work on getting stronger overall. Set more specific and doable goals, such as choosing particular exercises that you want to improve on.
Decide how many lifts you want to do, and do them. Once you achieve these goals, adjust and add to them.
Don’t Skip Breakfast
When first learning how to build muscle, you may not think that breakfast is as important as it is.
Surely skipping breakfast isn’t that big of a deal, right? Actually, this is very wrong.
If you start your day with a healthy breakfast full of protein, you’ll get the burst of energy you need to work out, and you’ll feel full for longer. This will help start your day right, which could help you to continue eating healthily throughout the rest of your day.
Choose things like smoothies, omelets, and cottage cheese for your daily breakfast when trying to gain muscle.
Eat More and More Frequently
You’ll find that learning how to bulk up means much more than eating tons of food all the time. You can’t just eat anything; if you do, you’ll start to gain fat, not muscle.
Instead, eating the right foods at the right time is key to gaining as much muscle as quickly as possible. Eating smaller meals more frequently is ideal, as it will keep you feeling fuller, and it will decrease your stomach size compared to eating three big meals a day.
When you don’t eat for long periods of time, you’re most at risk for overeating or eating the wrong types of foods.
To combat this, eat breakfast, lunch, and dinner at your regular times, but make the portion sizes a bit smaller. Then, add in post-workout meals, two snacks, and a meal before bed.
Remember, because your portions are smaller, you’ll only be eating a little bit more than you were before. But, because you are eating more frequently, you will have fewer cravings, and you’ll have enough fuel to pump up your workouts.
Consume Enough Protein
Just as it is essential to eat more frequently, it’s equally important to eat enough protein. You cannot build or maintain muscle without consuming an adequate amount of protein.
This should be at the top of your priorities. You need to make a point to eat 1g of protein per 454g of your body weight.
To make this easier, you should aim to eat a whole protein source with all of your meals.
Excellent protein sources include:
Fish: salmon, tuna, mackerel, sardines
Red meat: lamb, pork, beef
Poultry: turkey, duck, chicken
Dairy: cottage cheese, milk, cheese, yogurt
Vegan options: tofu, lentils, seeds, nuts
Chances are, you’re not getting enough protein. So, the more you can add to your diet, the better.
Even if you think you’re going overboard, you probably aren’t, as protein is perhaps the most essential ingredient when trying to gain muscle.
Eat Fruits and Veggies With Every Meal
When trying to gain muscle and bulk up, you must be mindful of eating too much. If you’re working out more, you might get more hungry, even if you are eating more frequently.
Instead of eating high-calorie foods, keep yourself full by eating fruits and veggies with every meal and as snacks.
Most fruits and veggies are low in calories, but not all of them, so make sure to do your research before indulging. Some also have high sugar content, so it’s best to avoid those.
You can eat as many low-calorie fruits and veggies as you want without gaining fat. They are also full of vitamins, antioxidants, minerals, and fiber, aiding in digestion.
Drink Protein Shakes Before Working Out
If you want to make the most of your workouts, then you should be drinking protein shakes before everyone.
This is one of the most effective ways to gain muscle, but you need to have the right portions to make it work. Aim for 10 to 20 grams of protein in your shake for the best results.
Because working out increases your blood flow to your working tissues, drinking a protein shake beforehand can create a greater uptake of amino acids in your muscles.
This means more muscle gain with each workout. Drinking your protein is the most effective, but if you can’t stomach protein shakes, you can also eat a turkey sandwich with cheese to get about the same amount of protein.
You can also look into implementing other elements to add even more protein, such as the best SARMs and other supplements.
Only Eat Carbs After Working Out
Everybody loves carbs, usually a little too much. When learning how to gain muscle, it’s essential to get control of your carb intake.
Focus on eating fewer carbs by only eating them after your workouts. Carbs give you energy, which is especially helpful after you just finished a few difficult reps.
You should already be consuming fruits and veggies with every meal, which are considered good carbs. They also contain fewer carbs than whole grains.
Avoid white carbs altogether, and always eat whole grains. Foods such as rice, quinoa, pasta, bread, and potatoes should all be saved for post-workout meals.
Carbs aren’t bad by themselves, but when you eat too much, you’ll be counteracting all your efforts by continuing to gain more fat than muscle.
Drink Water All Day
Almost everyone should drink more water, but this is even more true when you are attempting to gain muscle.
Sure, protein is important, but one of the most important bodybuilding tips you’ll find is to drink water throughout your entire day, every day.
You’ll be losing water through sweat as you exercise more, which can quickly lead to dehydration. You can impair muscle recovery when you become dehydrated, which will not lead to more muscle mass. Instead, your muscle mass will decrease.
Along with this, drinking more water will keep you feeling fuller, preventing you from snacking when you shouldn’t be.
Choose Whole Foods
If most of your meals consist of processed foods, you won’t be seeing the results you want anytime soon.
Processed foods are filled with sugar, trans-fat, corn syrup, sodium, nitrates, and tons of other chemicals. Pizza, cookies, bagels, and frozen meals will not help you gain muscle mass.
Whole foods, on the other hand, are unrefined and unprocessed foods that are as close to their natural states as possible. This means there are no added sugars or chemicals that could be a detriment to your health.
Fresh meat, fish, vegetables, poultry, oats, etc., are all excellent forms of whole foods.
When in doubt, always choose fresh, not frozen. Otherwise, you may think what you’re eating is fine, when really you’re just canceling out all the work you did.
Do Multi-Joint Movements
Building muscle means doing a lot of strength training, so making the most of your training is highly desirable. This is where multi-joint movements come in, as you are working more than one muscle at a time.
Challenging multiple muscles and joints at once can help you build muscle even faster. Of course, isolating muscles is valuable, but it shouldn’t be all that you do.
An example of multi-joint movements is the dumbbell row. This exercise will challenge your abs, lats, and biceps, which means they are all getting stronger with each rep you do.
Other exercises that challenge multiple muscles at once include squats, pull-ups, bench presses, and deadlifts.
Multi-joint movements also allow you to lift more weight with each rep because you are using different muscles together, similarly to how you would in real life.
Doing the most reps isn’t always the way to go.
When building muscle mass, it’s essential that you are training heavy. This means adding more weight but maybe cutting how many reps you do in half.
This will increase your pure strength, allowing you to eventually do more reps with more weight. You must do it safely, pushing yourself but never overdoing it. That is why decreasing your reps when adding weight is essential.
Because you are lifting more weight, and you are controlling that weight with every rep you do, your muscles will be more stimulated than if you were doing less weight with more reps.
This can lead to greater muscle tear and rebuild, meaning you will overall gain more muscle.
Revel in Rest Days
If you overtrain, you risk injuring yourself. If you never have a day off, your muscles never get to recover, which means never getting to experience that muscle rebuild.
Of course, you should get your body moving every day, but you shouldn’t push it to the brink of exhaustion.
If you feel the need to exercise on your rest days, choose easy and short workouts. Go for a walk or just do a warm-up, but don’t push yourself too much.
Make sure to eat enough on your rest days, too, as this is when your muscles need the nutrients the most.
Get Enough Sleep
Just like getting enough water is essential, sleeping at least six hours a night is required when attempting to build muscle.
When you sleep, your muscles are recovering, your body is growing, and muscle-growing hormones are secreted. If you aren’t sleeping enough, none of this is happening enough, either.
More than getting enough sleep, you need to be getting quality sleep if you are serious about gaining muscle mass. Try to go to sleep and wake up at the same times every day, and sleep in a dark and cool room.
The more you can perfect your sleep hygiene, the easier it will be to see some gains.
Find the Best Way to Gain Muscle for You
Building muscle mass isn’t easy. If it was, everyone would be doing it. Yet, that is also why it is so rewarding.
If you’re willing to put in the work, you could be someone with a toned and muscular body before you know it. Use this guide as a starting point, and explore the various methods to find which is the best way to gain muscle for you.
If you’d like to browse through more health-related articles, check out the various sections on our website!