Losing weight is one thing, and getting fit is another, but building muscle can be serious business. It takes a lot of effort and careful planning to get into a routine – but even then, if you’re missing out some of the less obvious rules and principles, you’re not going to get anywhere any time soon.
We’ve teamed up with Peak Body to explain what these principles are, and how you should stick to them when you’re building up muscle.
It’s possible to build up muscle from exercise alone, but it wouldn’t be very practical and would probably hurt a lot. Eating the right things matters – not just cutting out the bad, but making sure you keep the good. Beginners without a lot of experience will often cut out something important, leading to really inconsistent bowel movements or poor digestion that throws off their efforts to work out more – it’s not about removing, it’s about replacing.
Calories are a big part of a workout, but since they’re split into carbohydrates, fats and proteins, you need to be aware of how much you’re getting of each. Losing even one of these three can not only hamper your workouts but severely impact your overall health.
To get the best out of each meal, try to balance your intake with the amount you’re burning. Food is energy for your body, but too little or too much can lead to muscle shrinkage and weight gain.
Consistent and Persistent
Losing weight is as easy as sporadic exercise, but gaining muscle requires a proper schedule and an understanding of your own limits – not to respect them, but so that you can break them. You’d want to push yourself to the point where your muscles suddenly “give up”, and no further than that.
Pushing yourself further than that is not only painful and counterproductive, but doing it consistently leads to your muscles being torn up day after day with no way to repair the actual damage it’s sustaining behind each workout.
Having a routine is meant to introduce a pattern that your body can get used to, which is the primary force behind any muscle you build – and this isn’t just limited to workouts. Eating meals and taking protein powder should also be scheduled when possible.
If you’re jumping into an exercise routine, you might feel the need to work out constantly, taking minimal breaks and incorporating a workout into everything you can.
This is, unfortunately, a really bad idea. When your muscles break down, you’ve got to give them time to repair themselves – if you keep working out, they might even grow back in the wrong way. Your body releases growth and repair hormones two hours after you fall asleep, and not taking advantage of that can shred up your muscles even more.
That’s not to say you should take really long breaks – pausing your workout for a month or two can shrink your muscles back down faster than you gained them, and diverting from a decent diet can throw things off even further than that.