In today’s world, fitness influencers have taken over social media. However, not all of them are giving out true information. Some tend to mislead their followers with unrealistic expectations and crazy ineffective workouts. Some even take steroids, claim they don’t, and convince their followers they can look like that too. With all the false information out there, here are some evidence based pieces of advice that will actually help you grow your muscles.
Type of Workouts to Help Grow
Strength training is the most effective way to gain mass in your muscles. However there are a few things to focus on when strength training. These include lifting at 60-80% of your one repetition max (1RM), doing slightly lower repetitions, and focusing on the eccentric phase. The first two points go hand in hand. When you lift a heavier weight, you’re going to do less repetitions. However, if your goal was muscular endurance, you would use lighter weight (around 50% of your 1RM) and higher repetitions. For strength training, you are not going to test your 1RM for every single exercise. Find a weight that is slightly challenging that you can complete 8-10 repetitions with. Aim for 3-4 sets of 8-10 repetitions with a 30-60 second rest in between each set. When it comes to the motion of an exercise, there are two important components: the concentric and eccentric motions. Picture a bicep curl. The concentric phase is the upward motion of the weight (think of the muscle contracting) and the eccentric phase is the lowering of the weight (think of elongating the muscle). When it comes to growing muscles, the eccentric phase is the most important. This is how the muscle will grow. Aim for a 3 second long eccentric phase for each repetition.
How Often You Should Workout
There are recommendations on how often you should workout. According to the American College of Sports Medicine, you should work out 5 days a week for 30 minutes or more at a moderate-intensity. On the other hand, if you are doing vigorous intensity exercises, it is recommended that you workout 20 minutes or more, 3 days a week. You can also do a combination of both. If you are interested in incorporating cardio into your workout routine as well, but are more focused on strength training and gaining muscle, do the weight lifting first or on a separate day. That way the cardio doesn’t fatigue your muscles and cause you to not reach your weight lifting potential.
Importance of Protein
Protein is not only essential for your regular diet, but it is also essential in muscle growth. It is recommended that 10-35% of your daily energy intake is from protein. With weight lifting involved, it is important to stay at the higher end of this range. A general recommendation is to consume 0.35 grams per pound of your body weight each day. Immediately after a workout your body goes through a metabolic window. For about 30-60 minutes after physical activity, your body is more effective at synthesizing protein so it is important to consume protein within this time to maximize the benefits.
Written by GUADS staff member Emily, with contributions from acsm.org