It is not enough to just eat the right meals; the timing of your meals also matters if you’re looking to build muscle. You need to eat the right meals at the right time to achieve the right results. Without beating about the bush, the right meals for muscle building are protein-rich foods and the best time to eat these meals for optimal muscle gains is an hour prior to bedtime.
Of course, I know if this was to be a conversation in a face to face Seminar, you will definitely want to ask me “why.” Well, I won’t wait until you ask me “why” in the comment box, I will explain the reason now. In fact, the reason is obvious and you can attest to that after reading this post to the end.
You need to be aware that you strain and damage some of your muscle tissues while performing your daily routine, including workouts at the gym. The most convenient and suitable time for the muscles to repair themselves is at night while you’re sleeping. It is during rest periods, and particularly while sleeping, that your system repairs the strained and damaged muscles and makes them become bigger than before. So, you can always do yourself a favor by ensuring that you complete your 8-hour dose of sleep every night.
Protein’s are the building blocks of the muscles. So, if you make it a habit to always eat meals rich in proteins at about an hour before going to sleep, you stand the chance to boost the growth of your muscles than just eating around haphazardly. The one-hour interval allows for proper digestion of the meals. While sleeping, your body is also producing testosterone, which is needed for muscle building.
So, what food can you eat to enable your body gain optimal muscle recovery and growth? Here are 5 healthy late night meals that can help your body build and rebuild muscles while you sleep:
1. Avocados and Eggs
Avocados are natural source of healthy monounsaturated fats, which are great bodybuilding diets. Eggs, on the other hand, are also a good source of high quality protein. The eggs’ yolks are also rich in vitamins and minerals, which contains healthy fatty acids. So, combining avocados and eggs in a meal gives you access to essential nutrients you will need to build your muscles. Before going to bed, you can prepare avocados and meals by combining 2 whole eggs and 2 ounces of avocado. This combination gives you a total count of 244 calories, including 14 grams of protein, 6 grams of carbs and 18 grams of fat. This meal is not only great for building your muscles; it’s super delicious as well!
2. Casein and Flax
Casein protein is a well-known meal among bodybuilders and weight-lifters for its slow-digested protein that helps to improve metabolism during sleep. Flax, on the other hand, is rich in plant omega-3 fatty acids and dietary fiber. So, when combined, Casein and Flax, both make a healthy meal for bodybuilders. If you mix 28 grams of casein protein powder with a tablespoon of flaxseed oil, you will obtain a total count of 221 calories, including 20 grams of protein, 3 grams of carbs and 2 grams of fat.
3. Greek Yogurt and Chia Seeds
Greek Yogurt has become extremely popular among fitness enthusiasts in recent times. This is because it is super delicious and also packed with slow-digesting casein protein. The protein content is great for people looking to build muscles. Chia seeds are high in fiber, anti-oxidants, proteins, as well as omega-3 fatty acids. When Greek yogurt is combined with chia seeds, they provide plenty of essential nutrients suitable for muscle building. If you combine a cup of yogurt and one tablespoon of chia seeds, it gives you 180 calories, including 23 grams of protein, 14 grams of carbs and 3 grams of fat.
4. Whey Protein and Peanut Butter
Whey protein has been a long time buddy for the muscle builders. This is because it provides the body with an incredible range of essential amino acids as well as helps to enhance the release of anabolic hormones that stimulate muscle growth. Whey protein comes in different flavors, including strawberry and vanilla, and when you add some peanut butter to it, it becomes a nutritious and healthy meal suitable for bodybuilding. A combination of 28 grams of whey protein and 2 tablespoons of peanut butter gives 288 calories, including 28 grams of protein, 12 grams of carbs and 16 grams of fat.
5. Cottage Cheese and Almonds
Cottage cheese is a great late-night meal, and has been a bodybuilding staple for decades now. Stand alone, cottage cheese is filled with excellent blends of body-needed proteins. And when combine with almonds, they provide nutrients that are suitable for building muscle. So, a cup of low-fat cottage cheese and one ounce of almonds will give you a total of 327 calories, which include 11 grams of carbs, 34 grams of protein and 16 grams of fat.
All the above insanely delicious and nutrient packed meals are great late-night meals for fitness enthusiasts looking to build muscle. So, if you can incorporate these meals into your lifestyle and ensure you eat them as late-night meals an hour prior to bedtime, then you are on your way towards achieving your fitness goals.
Read our guide on 3 Fast High Protein Breakfast Options for Muscle Gain
Cardio is one of the best ways that one may easily be able to lose weight without even having to go to the gym. It has proven to help the body become leaner and help in the building of muscles. Listed below are some cardio workouts that one may easily be able to do in order to help them lose fat and grow healthy while at the same time toning and making the body muscles more lean.
When it comes to running for cardio, one needs to run at a very moderate pace in order to ensure that they burn fat and calories. Running helps in breaking down of fat in the body as it also helps in building ones lung capacity due to the fact that they are engaging their lungs as well during the whole process. An individual weigh 180-lb is bale to burn about 940 calories within an hour while they are running at a pace of 8.5 minute-per mile on a treadmill for an hour. Running is also considered to be easier on one’s knees and one may easily try changing up the routes which they take or join a local running club to break the monotony of having to run alone.
Jumping rope is one of the best cardio workouts that help one lose weight because it not only increases one’s foot speed but also is able to help one with regard to the burning of a ton of calories, it is a cheap and easy to do. Nevertheless, it also helps in enhancing one’s footwork, building their shoulder strength and coordination, stimulate sprinting and one may end up losing up to 500 calories within just 30 minutes.one is advised to start by jumping rope in intervals i.e. as fast and slow jumps in order to keep one going.
Stationary bikes are normally a very good way in which one may easily be able to lose fat through cardio. However, one is normally advised that they should be willing to go at an intense rate as it is very involving since one may not use their phones while at the same time, work out. This form of cardio is able to help one lose up to 1150 calories if the weigh averagely 180-lb per hour.
Swimming is normally a very healthy way to keep fit as it is a full body workout that start the moment one begins treading water. This is because one is normally fighting gravity and their muscles are fighting to ensure that they stay afloat without taking a break until one is out of the water. One is normally advised to incorporate different styles into their swimming in order to improve on the number of calories that they are burning.
Rowing is very essential as it normally incorporates the upper and lower body in a moderately low-stress manner on one’s ligaments and joints. Nevertheless, it is also a good way to work out the posterior chain. One may easily lose up to 800 calories per hour given that they weigh 180-lb. one is advised to always keep their chest up and use their entire body when rowing but not let all the work go into the arms as one may try using their legs to get the motion going.
Optimizing your workouts for peak performance requires going above and beyond the normal routines. Part of this process requires learning how your body behaves and responds to various challenges and modifying your plan around your unique response that might be slightly (or not so slightly) different than another person’s response to the same challenge.
Metabolism is one of these characteristics that is variable and unique to you.
At a high level, the Mayo Clinic describes metabolism simply as “the process by which your body converts what you eat and drink into energy.”
Your metabolism is affected by several parameters. For example, an obvious first thought might have simply been physical activity. Hitting the gym takes energy. Period.
And another, possibly less-than-obvious source of metabolic activity, is the food you eat. That’s right, eating food requires your body to burn calories. This process, known as diet-induced thermogenesis, refers to the body generating heat and using energy in order to metabolize the food you eat back into useable energy itself.
Diet-induced thermogenesis usually accounts for only around 10-15% of your daily caloric expenditure, but a subtle note to add is the role different foods (different macronutrient profiles, to be exact) play on thermogenesis. Protein, in particular, causes the largest thermogenic spike. In fact, eating protein increases metabolism by roughly three times that of carbohydrates, and over six times that of fats.
But these sources are still not the biggest contributors to your metabolism. Diet-induced thermogenesis and physical activity combined rarely come close to the largest source of caloric burn – your basal metabolism.
Basal metabolism is simply the calories required for life. To keep you going. To keep you alive.
All your internal organs require a constant supply of energy to keep things running like hearts beating, lungs breathing, and kidneys filtering. On average, your basal metabolism accounts for roughly 70% of your daily caloric expenditure. That means, if you simply laid on the couch and didn’t move all day, you’d still burn these calories.
But your basal metabolic rate is unique to you. And it is affect by several factors including your body composition, your gender, your age, and your genetics.
The largest variable affecting your basal metabolic rate is your body composition. In fact, gender is primarily only a contributing factor in large part due to natural differences in body composition and lean muscle distribution .
Of your body composition, the largest contributing factor is fat-free mass. Most of us have heard that muscle burns more calories than fat. Indeed, in addition to organs like your brain, your kidneys, etc., your muscle mass contributes a significant portion of these calories burned. Roughly 20% of the variability in basal metabolism between individuals can be attributed to the amount of lean muscle tissue. On the contrary, fat-mass contributes roughly 6% of the variability in caloric burn per person.
Other interesting things to note about your basal metabolism is that age only accounts for roughly 2% of the variability seen in basal metabolic rates. The decreased rate of metabolism often associated with aging is more closely linked to a loss in weight and lean muscle mass.
And unknown sources between individuals that can’t be attributed to these factors represent nearly 27% of the variability. Some of this could very well be associated with genetics. Other potential sources of variability could be derived from differences in organ size and distribution of body tissues such as brown fat, visceral fat, and subcutaneous fat.
Testing for Your Basal Metabolic Rate
To test for your basal metabolic rate, you can undergo a simple testing procedure that is likely available at many nutrition or personal training clinics. The test is simple but requires some preparation on your part. Specifically, you will likely need to fast for some amount of time (usually around 12 hours) before the test. Because, if you remember, diet-induced thermogenesis might influence your test results.
The test itself requires you to breathe into a mask connected to a gas analyzer while resting comfortably in a relaxed position. While you sit and breathe for a period of time (roughly 20-30 minutes), the gas analyzer is precisely measuring how much oxygen is going in and how much carbon dioxide is going out.
And that’s it. Assuming there were no abnormalities in the test results, you will finish and be provided with your basal metabolic rate. You’ll then have an understanding of how many calories you will burn as a baseline to build your nutrition plan, your workout plan, and help set your body composition goals.
But this test also provides another interesting value worth investigating. The same basal metabolic rate test can also determine your respiratory quotient. Your respiratory quotient will provide some insight into the substrate from which your body’s energy is derived. In other words, does your body harvest its energy more from carbohydrates, proteins, or fats?
Your Respiratory Quotient
Your respiratory quotient is almost certainly going to be a fraction somewhere between the values of 0.7 and 1.0. Typically, your results will lie between 0.8 and 0.85.
This number reflects the gas analyzer’s readings of oxygen uptake and carbon dioxide output. Specifically, the ratio of carbon dioxide to oxygen provides this decimal.
If all of your energy were being derived purely from carbohydrates, your respiratory quotient would be equal to 1.0. For every glucose molecule that is harvested for energy, 6 oxygen molecules are required to produce 6 carbon dioxide molecules (a ratio of this 1-to-1 equivalency creates a fraction of 1.0).
However, if all of your energy was being derived from fat, your respiratory quotient would be closer to 0.7. For example, metabolism of the fatty acid, palmitic acid, produces 16 units of carbon dioxide for every 23 units of oxygen, creating a ratio of 0.696.
Pure protein metabolism produces a respiratory quotient of around 0.81. However, your body does not store appreciable amounts of protein for use as an energy source. Protein turnover occurs at a fairly constant rate and would markedly change if protein was consumed before exercise and other readily available fuel sources were used first.
Your respiratory quotient can be used as a way to help understand your body composition and metabolic fuel source in order to adjust your body composition goals and direct your nutrition plan.
And these techniques can also be applied to studying your active metabolic behavior, too. Performing these tests during exercise can give you further insight into how your body adjusts its fuel sources during specific kinds of workouts (think sprinting, endurance events, weight lifting, etc.). This can further help direct your nutrition plan to optimize your fuel source for each particular type of training you are targeting.
Personalizing your training and nutrition plan around your body’s specific metabolic behavior can help optimize your performance. Some commonalities exist. For example, protein produces a higher diet-induced thermogenic response than carbohydrates and fats, and body composition (particularly fat-free mass) composes the majority of the variability in basal metabolic rate.
But variability in your respiratory quotient may provide further insight into your body composition and the composition of your body’s fuel sources. Actively applying these personal characteristics can help you clarify your goals and personalize your diet and training plan for peak results.
- Johnstone, A. M., Murison, S. D., Duncan, J. S., Rance, K. A., & Speakman, J. R. (2005). Factors influencing variation in basal metabolic rate include fat-free mass, fat mass, age, and circulating thyroxine but not sex, circulating leptin, or triiodothyronine, The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, 82(5), 941–948. https://doi.org/10.1093/ajcn/82.5.941.
Losing weight is not as easy as one may think it is and it may be even harder in the event that one is doing all the wrong steps and exercises which will simply lead t them having failed attempts at being lean. There are various reason as to why most people may end up working out or even going on a diet, but they may end up not loosening the weight that they wish to have lost within the period they had planned to lose it. Listed below are some reasons why.
1. You’re Not Doing Intervals
Taking long breaks in between a work to does not necessarily help one’s body become leaner. Instead, one is normally advice to take intervals which are basically short period of rest in between in order for them to increase their routine’s fat-burning potential. Hence instead of taking long breaks that tend to relax the body instead of just giving it a boost to get back to working out, one should just take a few seconds break as this will help them burn more calories and get their metabolism going.
2. You’re Downing Sports Drink
One needs to understand that most sports drinks are normally filed with sugar which when in excess may end up leading to one adding empty calories to their body. This may then be counterproductive to creating the calorie deficit that one needs for weight loss. One is normally advised to avoid sports drinks or just drink them moderately, or they may simply stick to simple water.
3. Loading On Protein Bars
One needs to understand that as much as protein bars normally look healthy, and they are healthy to some point, there is need for one to understand that they pack almost 500 calories and approximately 18g of fat which is a lot. So instead of having to grab a protein bar, one may easily be able to fuel their body with whole foods after a work out that will be able to deliver both muscle building protein and energy replenishing carbohydrates.
4. Snacking On Junk after Dinner
The matter of the fact is that it’s not the fact that what one eats at night will affect their weight but rather what one eats after dark that is the real issue. Most people after dinner may end up grabbing packet of cookies, chops or crackers which is not healthy. One may instead get cottage cheese, almonds, celery in the event that hunger pangs strike after dinner.
5. Not Eating Enough
One needs to understand that eating enough may seem like a very good idea in order for one to lose weight but it may end up backfiring on an individual instead. This may end up increasing ones cravings and harm their metabolism. One may instead eat two snacks after three hours of consuming big meals. If one is working out however, there is need for them to refuel within 30 minutes of the exercise.
6. Letting Stress Build Up
One needs to understand that stress eating has never been a healthy thing as it will definitely sabotage one’s weight loss efforts. One may try meditating, yoga, or hitting the gym to help in dealing with the stress.
The squat exercise has been called the king of strength training exercises for a very good reason as there is nothing else that is able to train the lower body musculature quite like a squat. When one is able to do this specific form of exercise well, then they are able to improve on their athletic performance as it helps them run faster, jumper further, jump higher and hit harder. As much as the squatting technique may seem to be incredibly simple, it may also be quite complex. In the event that one thing is off, it may then detract one from training and instead cause injury. Listed below are some few guidelines to help one improve on their squat
This goes without say that one needs to be able to train continuously the more one does it the better they become at it. Just by simply doing it once won’t be able t cut it as there is need for there to be a continuous routine so that the muscles are able to be in the right shape as time progresses. One is advised to aim for at least two workouts each week with squats included in them to improve one’s squatting.
One may easily be able to perform various variations of the squat as this will help in kick-starting one’s lower body strength. The various variations are able to target different muscles and parts of the muscle and change nervous system stimulation. Some fop the variations may include:
- Barbell front squat
- Rear foot elevated squats with dumbbells or barbell
- Barbell wide-stance back squats
- Pause squats
- Anderson squats
As the saying goes, practice makes perfect. Every single time that one is doing a warm up, they are advised to hot a few sets of body weight squats or/and PVC pipe back squats. This is because it will help in the reinforcing of the squatting motor pattern.
One is advised to focus on creating torque by using their feet. Drive the feet into the ground then try to rotate the feet to the outside of the body, but not too hard in the vent that they end up moving. This will help one stay tight which simply means that it will be easier for one to stay in a proper position throughout their movement.
One may easily brace their torso by simply taking a deep breathe just before they descend into a squatting position and push out on their abs all the way through the movement.
Don’t Ignore the Little Things
As much as a barbell squat may seem simple, there are a few little things to make it a perfect squat such as:
- Wrist position which should be straight and not bent back as this will help in keeping the upper body tight and save the wrists from any potential problems.
- Head position as one should not stair at the ceiling but instead they should remaining a neutral position, eyes looking straight ahead through the squat.
One needs to understand that squats aren’t only a lower body exercises as they also engage the core muscles of the torso a lot. By one simply learning to train their core muscles specifically, then this isn’t only be beneficial for squatting but also everything athletically.
Caffeine is one of the most widely used stimulant around the world but only a few know the advantages it may offer with regard to optimizing its intake in order for it to help with fat loss. Most people actually insist on avoiding caffeine saying that it is not healthy for the body. However, there are benefits that have been attached to caffeine intake and one is normally advised to follow the following steps in order or them to actually be able to get optimally wired to the benefits of caffeine and weight loss.
Consume in small, frequent amounts
One needs to understand that caffeine is able to cross the blood-barrier quickly due to its lipid solubility but it may end up taking up to 45 minutes to be fully ingested through the gastrointestinal tract. Under normal conditions, this remains normal for around an hour. The small doses of caffeine may end up helping one lose at least 3mg per kg of body weight (approximately 20mg per hour) as this may support extended wakefulness and may counteract homeostatic sleep in pressure which builds at a slow pace throughout the day which then helps in improving cognitive functions given that it acts ion the prefrontal cortex area of the brain.
Play to your cognitive strengths when wired
When one has been able to take caffeine, then they are able to work at a better speed rate, have a decrease in attention lapses and be better at recall. When one has been able to ingest caffeine, they may then take this time since all senses are heightened and the body is very much stimulated to work out and just give the very best output that their bodes may be able to give off. One may then be able to lose weight during this time frame due to the fact that they feel their sense have been stimulated, and they are able to work out even more.
Know when to stop and when to start again
One need to be careful as they may end up exerting themselves tool much and this may then end up leading to injury instead of helping in the weight loss program. Hence, one is normally advised to be very careful when it comes to knowing when they need to stop themselves lest they end up hurting their bodies just because the caffeine is still in the system. Be very careful not to over exert the body.
Find good sources of caffeine
One needs to find a healthy way in which they may include caffeine into their diet without having to overdo it. This is because healthy small does are okay but when one has a source that is providing more than enough caffeine in the body, this may lead to more harm than good as it may lead to addiction. One needs to understand that for them to get the optimal benefits of caffeine that it needs to be in small doses each hour along some with cardio protective agent. A cup of green tea may be a good start.
Checkout our Pre workout which contains 300mg of caffeine per 15g serving
With summer on the horizon, it’s time to leave the winter bulk behind and jump into the warm weather ripped and ready to have some fun.
Without further ado, here are the top tips to get crazy ripped:
- Clean up your diet
The most important tip, by far, is this. Cut out most of the junk from your diet and only leave a bit here and there to treat yourself.
Instead, eat mostly whole, nutritious foods that aid in recovery, muscle maintenance, and energy levels. Switch foods like burgers, candy, and chips for better alternatives such as grains, lean meats, and vegetables.
Whole foods are generally low in calories which means that you can eat more of them and feel satisfied. On the other hand, eating mostly junk food would leave you feeling mostly hungry, not to mention the energy spikes that often leave you feeling fatigued by mid-afternoon.
Also, plan your meals ahead of time to ensure that you’re following through. For example, set aside some time on Sunday, cook everything you need for the week, put in Tupperware and you’ll have ready meals for the entire week.
2. Get enough sleep
Sleep is one of the most important aspects of successful fat loss. If you chronically undersleep, you’ll feel tired all the time and you’ll constantly crave junk foods. And that’s just a recipe for disaster.
Aim to get at least 7-8 hours of sleep every night. Your body will thank you.
- Turn off electronics for 30 minutes to an hour before bed. This will help you fall asleep quicker.
- Supplement with 2-5 mg. of melatonin before bed. This is a proven product to help you fall asleep faster and sleep better.
- Keep your room in the 65-70 ° F (18-21 ° C) ranges and completely dark. We sleep better in cooler rooms and the darkness aids with melatonin production.
3. Eat more protein
Protein is one of the most important macronutrients, especially if your goal is to get ripped. You see, protein has a higher thermic effect which means that it takes more energy for your body to break it down. Also, protein is very satiating. Eating more of it will allow you to keep hunger at bay, which can be a big issue when getting ripped.
Last, but not least, protein is imperative for muscle maintenance during periods of caloric restriction. Simply put, if you don’t eat enough protein, you’re going to lose much more muscle mass and may end up looking skinny-fat rather than ripped to the bone.
4. Include interval training into your regimen
Show of hands:
Who here hates running on the treadmill for 45-60 minutes?
It’s tedious and boring. And when you have much better alternatives, especially as the weather is getting better, why even bother.
Instead, go to the track or in the park and do some interval running. It takes less time, it’s more fun to do and it burns just as much (if not more) calories as running on the treadmill does.
And if you’re interested in supplements that can help you along the way, we’ve got you covered. We recommend starting with the following muscle-building essentials:
If your interested in learning more about the how-to’s of building muscle, check out our free articles:
Let’s face it: packing on muscle seems simple on the outside, but it takes quite a bit of know-how and consistency to get it right.
I mean, eat big and train hard sounds like good advice, but what the hell does it mean?
“Eat big” can mean a thousand different things for different people, there’s nothing specific or actionable about it.
Same with “train hard”. You hear it and get motivated to hit the gym, but how do you quantify “hard”, anyway?
Today, we’ll go in much more detail and review some proven ways to build muscle faster:
1. Train muscles more often
It used to be common knowledge that to build muscle, all you needed to do was follow a bro split and eat a lot of food. However, as more and more research piles on, we’ve come to the understanding that you neither need to eat as much as you think nor should you follow the typical bro-split.
You see, with most bro-splits, the big issue is that you only get to train a muscle once per week. There are two big issues with that:
a)You need to cram a lot of training volume in each workout
Training volume (which we can measure in hard sets) is a key driver for muscle growth. Doing more naturally leads to better results, to a point. Say, for example, that you do 18 working sets for your back each week. If you are to do all of that volume in one workout, you’d accumulate a lot of fatigue in your back and as the workout progresses, your performance will continuously drop. This would lead to less total work being done.
Now, if you were to split these 18 total sets into two sessions, you’d be able to do even more work and the same number of sets without getting as fatigued. This would lead to faster muscle growth.
b)You are missing opportunities to stimulate your muscles
When you train, muscle protein synthesis is usually elevated for up to 36 hours and it takes your muscles roughly 48 hours to fully recover. Now, if you train a given muscle once every 7 days, you are leaving much more time for recovery than your body really needs.
These extra days can be used to attack the different muscles again, cause more damage and stimulate more growth.
2. Train harder
If you’ve spent some time in the gym, you’ve probably noticed a common trend:
People don’t train hard. In most cases, they put more emphasis on socializing, browsing through their phones or doing half-hearted sets.
In life, as well as in training, you get what you give. You reap what you sow. You might think that you’re training hard enough, but be honest with yourself: are you, really?
Do any of your sets feel so difficult that you’re anxious to begin them? Do you ever train a muscle so hard that it burns like hell? Have you ever genuinely pushed harder than you thought you could?
Be honest with yourself. If you can’t honestly say that you’re training hard enough, start putting more effort into your workouts.
3. Time your rest periods
There is a delicate balance between resting just enough and resting too much. You need to be conscious of that and time your resting periods closely. This point directly ties in with the above one, because you might be putting a good amount of effort in each individual set, but if you’re resting too much between them, you’re shooting yourself in the foot.
On the other hand, not resting enough is also bad because it hinders your performance on each subsequent set and decreases the total work that you do.
Here are some general guidelines for resting periods:
- For sets where you do 1-6 repetitions, rest between 3 and 5 minutes.
- For sets where you do 6-12 repetitions, rest between 1.5 and 3 minutes.
- For sets where you do 12-20 repetitions, rest for 60-90 seconds max.
4. Vary exercises every so often to keep things interesting
One very important aspect of effective training is enjoyability. Simply put, doing the same exercises over and over again is effective, but gets stale after a while. That leads to boring workouts, lack of motivation and less effort being put into them.
To counter that, you should regularly rotate most of the exercises you do. A good guideline is to switch them every 4-6 weeks. Have 5-8 exercises for each muscle group and regularly switch between them.
This allows you to keep the novelty factor into your training and enjoy your workouts more.
Furthermore, there is a theory that your body adapts to given exercises over time and further progress becomes more difficult. By changing the exercises, you modify the stress response and this can lead to faster muscle growth.
5. Eat enough food and protein
While training is very important for building muscle, nutrition is another crucial factor. Simply put, even if you’re doing everything correctly with your training, you still might get suboptimal results due to bad nutrition.
First, you need to establish a caloric surplus for muscle growth. It ensures that your body has adequate energy to repair itself and grow stronger. A good way to know that you’re eating in a caloric surplus is if you are steadily gaining body weight.
Second, you need to eat enough protein. Aside from adequate energy (in the form of calories), getting enough protein is the other piece of the puzzle. Protein provides the building blocks that your body needs to repair muscle tissue and make it bigger. Simply put, you might eat enough calories and gain weight over time, but if there’s little or no protein in your diet, your body won’t be able to synthesize muscle mass.
A good rule of thumb is to eat roughly 0.8 to 1 gram of protein per pound of body weight. If you currently weigh 190 lbs, aim for 190 grams of protein daily.
Beginners in the gym can expect to grow very quickly, as long as they show up consistently and train. However, the more advanced you become, the harder it gets to make further progress.
Training and eating the same way stop providing results at some point and most guys hit a wall.
No matter what they seem to do, they can’t gain muscle mass. Luckily, this problem is not that difficult to fix, but you first need to learn what’s causing it. We’ll look at the 5 most common reasons why you are not getting bigger:
1. You’re not eating enough
This is the most common reason why you might not be getting bigger. Most guys put a serious amount of effort in the gym, but not enough in their diet and that’s a problem. It’s always interesting to see someone who spends hundreds of hours in the gym, lifting hard, but don’t put any thoughts about what goes into his body.
You see, training is important. It provides the stimulus your body needs to repair and grow the muscles to be better able to handle the weights. But, nutrition is equally (if not more) as important, because it provides the body with the building blocks it needs.
Simply put, even if you’re doing everything right with your training, if you’re not supplying your body with enough calories, you won’t get bigger and stronger. That’s a fact.
2.You’re doing too much cardio
Next to not eating enough, doing too much cardio is the second biggest mistake holding most people back. Even if you are eating a good amount of food, you still might be holding yourself back by doing lots of cardio.
Cardio burns a lot of calories and doing too much of it or too often adds up and you end up with a caloric deficit.
Of course, cardio is awesome because it provides many health benefits:
- Improves memory and brain function
- Improves your good cholesterol
- Increases oxygen supply to your muscles
- Improves your mood and reduces risk of depression
- Helps you fall asleep faster
- Increases your energy
- Many others
I do recommend doing some cardio every week, but don’t go overboard with it. Not only does it burn calories but it can also interfere with your weight training and slow down your progress.
3. You’re not training with enough volume
Training volume refers to the amount of work you do within a given training session or week. The best way to track it is by multiplying weight lifted * repetitions done * sets done. For example:
Doing 4 sets of 8 repetitions on the squat with 225 lbs. Is 7200 lbs. of volume for that one exercise.
(225 * 8 (repetitions) = 1800 lbs. ; 1800 * 4 (sets) = 7200 lbs.)
If cardio is not the problem and you’re eating enough food, then you need to start looking into your training.
You see, not training with the appropriate volume will hinder your muscle-building progress. We’ll get into specifics of training below.
4. You’re not tracking your progress
Let me ask you something: If you’re not tracking your progress, how can you be sure that you’re not getting bigger?
The truth is, we see ourselves in the mirror every day and sometimes changes are hard to notice. But you could be making some progress over time and if someone who hasn’t seen you in a while makes a comment, don’t just write it off, because they are onto something.
5. You’re not sleeping enough
Eating, training, and tracking progress are all important, but if you’re not sleeping enough as you should, you are shooting yourself in the foot.
While sleeping, your body is rejuvenating itself. It’s repairing itself, refreshing your brain and producing important hormones such as HGH (Human growth hormone).
If you cut your body’s rest time, it doesn’t get the opportunity to fully repair your body and prepare you for the next day. From there, you start suffering both physically and mentally, your workouts take a hit and your progress slows down considerably.
How to gain muscle size fast
With that out of the way, let’s take a look at the 5 things you need to do daily to ensure that you’re getting bigger and more muscular over time:
a) Eat enough calories and protein
As we already said, food provides your body with the building blocks it needs to repair itself and grow stronger. But how many calories should you eat?
First, you need to calculate your caloric needs and then you need to add a small caloric surplus to ensure growth. Here’s how to do it:
Calculate your BMR, using the below formula:
Women: BMR = 655 + (4.35 * weight in pounds) + (4.7 * height in inches) – (4.7 * age in years)
Men: BMR = 66 + (6.23 * weight in pounds) + (12.7 * height in inches) – (6.8 * age in years)
Alternative formula for kilos and centimeters:
Women: BMR = 655 + (9.6 * weight in kilos) + (1.8 * height in cm) – (4.7 * age in years)
Men: BMR = 66 + (13.7 * weight in kilos) + (5 * height in cm) – (6.8 * age in years)
Let’s do an example calculation using the first formula:
26 years-old-guy, who weighs 182 pounds and is 6 feet (72 inches) tall.
BMR = 66 + (6.23 * 182) + (12.7 * 72) – (6.8 * 26)
BMR = 66 + 1133 + 914 – 177
BMR = 1936 calories.
This is roughly the number of calories your body burns every day just to keep you alive.
Now, to get our TDEE, we need to use the Harris-Benedict multiplier for the BMR value that we have. Here it is:
If you are sedentary (little to no exercise): BMR * 1.2
If you are lightly active (light exercise 1-3 times/week): BMR * 1.375
If you are moderately active (moderate exercise 3-5 times/week): BMR * 1.55
If you are very active (hard exercise 6-7 times/week): BMR * 1.725
If you are extra active (very hard exercise & physical job): BMR * 1.9
Now, for the sake of our example, let’s assume that our guy from above is moderately active. So the calculation would go like this:
1936 calories (BMR) * 1.55 (moderately active) = 3000 calories TDEE.
This is roughly the number of calories you would need to eat every day to maintain your current weight.
Once you know your individual TDEE, a good rule of thumb is to put a 200 calorie surplus. For our example, that would be 3000 + 200 = 3200 calories per day.
Why exactly 200 calories?
- It takes roughly 2500 calories to build a pound of muscle (or roughly 5500 calories for a kilo).
- It takes roughly 3500 calories to burn or store a pound of fat (or roughly 7700 calories for a kilo)
If we assume that most people will gain muscle and fat at a 1 to 1 ratio, you should aim to gain 2 pounds of body weight per month and hope that half that is muscle. To do that, you’ll need roughly 6000 kcals (2500 for the pound of muscle, 3500 for the pound of fat) over maintenance for the month, or roughly 200 calories/day (6000/30=200).
Aside from the calorie need, you also need enough protein to support muscle growth. A good rule of thumb is to eat 0.8-1 grams of protein per pound of body weight.
In other words, if you currently weigh 170 pounds, eat between 136 and 170 grams of protein per day.
b) Train hard
Train hard is a bit vague, so let’s get into some specifics:
1) Train each muscle group 2 times per week
An overwhelming majority of the research out there supports the claims that training a muscle group more than once a week, provided adequate recovery, leads to more growth. So, if you were to train chest on Monday, it would be more beneficial to hit it again a few days later, rather than waiting a full 7 days before going at it again.
2) Train each muscle with at least 10 sets per week
Again, research is in support of training a muscle with more than 10 sets per week. 12 to 16 is probably the sweet spot for most people. Spread that number of sets across 2 or 3 sessions per week.
3) Include heavy compound lifts into your training
Start off your workouts with compound lifts such as the bench press, squat, deadlift, overhead press, and pull-up. Your priority should be to get stronger on these movements over time. Also, it will be much easier for you to track your progress on these movements compared to isolation exercises like a dumbbell curl or a lateral raise.
4) Do cardio sparingly and on separate days, if your schedule allows
Cardio provides many health benefits and everyone should do at least 30-40 minutes per week. With that said, I do recommend doing cardio on rest days (if your schedule allows), because there is lots of research suggesting that doing cardio before or after your strength training can interfere with your growth.
Also, don’t go overboard with it the amount of cardio you do, because there will come a point where it starts putting too much stress on your body and recovering becomes an issue.
5) Incorporate recovery or deload weeks
Simply put, a recovery week is a period of time where you don’t train at all. You’ve accumulated a lot of stress over the months of consistent training and such a week allows you to recover and get back to the gym stronger and more motivated to train.
A deload week is a period where you scale back your training with the same recovery goal in mind, but instead of not lifting at all for a week (a notion that sounds crazy to some), you still go to the gym but keep your workouts very light and unchallenging.
Which one you decide to do is up to you and your preferences.
As far as frequency of such a week, I recommend taking one after every 6-8 weeks of consistent, hard training at the gym.
6) Don’t push every set to failure, keep some repetitions in the tank
Pushing a set to failure has its benefits. It allows you to recruit a lot of muscle fibers and really push your body. But, if each set you do is taken to failure, that can lead to problems such as overtraining yourself.
Not only that but doing that also sabotages the amount of volume you can perform for the workout and training week.
If you push a set to failure, each one after that (for the same exercise and muscle groups involved) will suffer and that could hinder your long-term growth.
For example, if you push the first set of a bench press to failure and get 13 repetitions (where you should have stopped at 10), on the second set, you’ll likely get no more than 8 reps. Third set: 5 reps. Fourth set: 3-4 reps.
But if you were to manage your fatigue better and not push each set to failure, you could get 10 reps on all sets and do more total volume for that exercise. That would lead to more growth over time.
How well you recover from your training depends on a lot of different things and is very important for long-term progress.
Factors such as stress outside the gym, training age, how much training you’re doing, your genetics, capacity to do work, gender, and more all influence your ability to recover.
Aside from structuring your training in a smart way, not pushing sets to failure all the time, and not doing too much training volume, you should also make sure that you’re sleeping at least 7 hours every night.
All of these factors combined can be the difference between recovering well and making consistent progress and recovering poorly, overtraining yourself and potentially getting injured.
When it comes to the food selection, most people are actually becoming smarter with regard to what they are consuming nowadays. Most people have taken the healthy route when it comes to meal considerations, this has helped them be in a position whereby they can easily go on a diet of only eating healthy foods. However, this is only half the problem as not most people find to easy eating healthy or finding healthy alternatives with regard to what they eat on a daily basis.
Meal prepping is the acts of simply preparing a meal in advance be it some meals or even all the meals before one has been able to cook them. This helps one prepare a better, healthier and use unprocessed ingredients in order to have a healthier meal. This saves on time and also ensures that one has been able to eat healthier foods more often as they get to enjoy proper portions, instead of processed and prepackaged snacks or meals that may end up going over one’s caloric needs. The whole idea of meal prepping is that when one has healthier things ready to eat, they will opt to eat them instead of potentially harmful foods.
How to Get Started
Pick a Day
One needs to find a day in which they find convenient of them to prepare all their meals. For some it may be a weekday while for others it may be over the weekend. Others it may be when the kids have gone to school or when they have an off from work and one may easily ask for help from the family if need be.
For most people Sunday and Wednesday seem to be the best days as one maybe split the week’s meals into two days of prepping. At the beginning, one is normally advised not to prepare a meal for a whole week as they can start small then with time find out what worked best
Pick the Meals
One needs to also pick the meals they need to prepare for breakfast, dinner and lunch. This also depends on the number of people that one’s cooking for because at forts if it’s for the family one may try out dinner but if it’s for a single person then they may try out breakfast or lunch. One needs to be able to balance the meals when they are choosing the recipes as well.
Use Proper Containers
Good storage containers are the foundation of meal prepping. This is because the containers are air tight hence will make the food fresher, better and crispier. The containers also may needs to be BPA free, freezer safe, stack able, reusable, dishwasher safe and microwavable.
In conclusion, when it comes to meal prepping it is very essential for one to prep prior in order to be able to do the actual meal prepping press by themselves. One is normally advised to start small then pick up on it as the days go by. This will encourage for a healthier, and better meal plan and is a good way for one to remain healthy and eat nutritious foods.
And if you’re interested in supplements that can help you along the way, we’ve got you covered. We recommend starting with the following muscle-building essentials:
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