While it’s fun to focus on creating your perfect total body or split-training routine, putting your mind in your muscles, constantly working on perfecting your form, and pushing yourself past failure, this is only part of the equation.
You know that you don’t build muscles when you’re working out, but when you’re resting between workouts. Workouts cause microtrauma to muscle fibers, and nutrition and rest result in building stronger muscle fibers.
So three other factors that you have to consider when it comes packing on muscle are eating the right foods, getting enough sleep, and living an organized, disciplined lifestyle.
Let’s take a closer look at each one:
Eating the right foods
When it comes to eating the right foods, we’re not talking about just eating more of your regular foods to bulk up, nor are we talking about a cleansing diet often used by health practitioners consisting of mainly fruits and vegetables. Instead, we’re talking about foods that build the body.
For starters, many of the micronutrients you need will not be found in your regular diet. You will need to eat the right powders and pills to supplement what you may not be getting from regular foods. It would be helpful to identify pills by time, to make sure you are taking the right vitamin or minerals at the right time. For instance, you don’t want to be taking your B-12 vitamin at night, because it will energize you, nor do you want to be taking your magnesium during the day because it makes you sleepy.
Besides making sure you’re taking enough vitamins and minerals to support your bodybuilding recovery, here are 3 other essential bodybuilding supplements.
- Protein powder. This is not to say you shouldn’t eat protein-rich foods, but by adding protein powder, it’s easier for you to get as much protein as you need without eating huge amounts of fish, meat, and dairy products meals throughout the day. According to Peter Lemon, a professor of exercise nutrition at the University of Western Ontario, a strength athlete should eat about “0.7 and 0.8 grams of protein per pound of body weight.”
- Creatine. This has been the most heavily researched supplement in sports nutrition. In controlled studies, those who took creatine built more muscle on average than those who didn’t.
- Beta-Alanine. This sports performance supplement basically helps reduce muscle acidity when lifting, making it easier to lift for a longer time before your muscles get too fatigued to contract any longer.
While these nutrients can often be obtained from foods, you are unlikely to get enough from food sources alone. And while, of course, there are many other supplements, these three form a solid foundation.
Getting enough rest
The best way to get enough rest is to get a good night’s sleep, which means getting enough sleep and enjoying deep sleep. This is all about eating the right foods before you go to bed, foods that make you sleepy and follow the right sleep habits.
One supplement to take a half-hour before you go to sleep is Casein protein. This is slow acting, unlike whey protein, and as a result it helps feed your muscles with the protein they need during the night.
Living an organized life
This theme is rarely discussed in bodybuilding blogs, but you won’t get far as a bodybuilder if you’re not organized. It will affect your workouts, your eating plan, and your sleep habits—the three things you have to do to make sure you routinely do well to make progress as a bodybuilder.
Here’s are three reasons why living an organized life is so important:
- If you’re not disciplined and organized, you’ll skip workouts, rush through workouts, or get to your workouts too fatigued from some previous activity to get a good workout.
- It’s difficult to stick with your goal of eating 6 meals a day if you don’t know what you’re going to eat, don’t have pre-made meals or easy-to-make meals, or get so busy doing something else that you blow past your scheduled meal break.
- It’s one thing to intend to get enough sleep every night, but it’s another to actually do it if you’re running late on your projects. You could also be skimping on sleep because you’re sacrificing sleep for some fun, social activity. Getting enough sleep is essential for giving the body enough time to rebuild muscles that have been torn down after a great workout.