Most men would love to have a muscular body. No matter how much you deny this, it’s almost certainly somewhere on your wish-list. Women will find you attractive, other men will likely show you respect and you’ll feel really confident in yourself. Your big chest, broad shoulders and thick arms will turn heads wherever you go. How do I know all this? Because I’ve been there before. Trust me, the difference is clear.
If one of your plans for this year is to gain some lean muscle, then you’re reading the right article. If you search for ‘weight loss’ on Amazon, you’ll come across more than 120,000 results, all promising to give you miracle ‘six packs’ within just a few weeks. Unfortunately, not all these materials can deliver the answers you need.
In this short piece, I’ll cover five things you need to know in order to build muscle without picking up extra fat in the process.
- Consume the right amount of calories
Your body cannot create new muscle tissue if you don’t have the calories to burn. This means that you need to eat enough of the right food. Most people assume that eating makes you gain weight.
However, understand that you can gain mass without putting on a bit of fat. When you eat enough food, your body is forced to find ways to convert the extra energy. It can either be stored as fat or used to build muscle. I need to point out that no matter how much you want to build muscles, it has to be natural.
Studies show that you can only build around half a pound of muscle weekly, unless you plan on using steroids. This means that the food you eat should contain just the right amount of calories that would help you build muscles at the right rate. Not many people know, for example, that foods rich in L-Ornithine are very helpful for building muscle strength, liver detox and other health and fitness goals.
If you put on weight too quickly, you risk getting fat. The most efficient way to watch your weight gain is to count your calories. Get in the habit of eating fresh food and avoid packaged foods as much as you can to save calories.
- Apply the Pareto Principle
The 80/20 rule for eating was derived from the same Pareto Principle of the 80/20 rule. The 80/20 rule focuses more on healthy eating than dieting. It essentially means that you must eat very healthy foods 80% of the time. You can then indulge in your love of ‘junk food or ‘sweet food’ the remaining 20% of the time. If you eat healthily 80% of the time, the occasional ice cream or pizza will not hurt. It can actually become a form of reward for eating well.
- Make the gym your friend
Give your body a reason to build more tissue muscle and it will. This means that you should always look forward to visiting the gym. It is the place where you can covert that excess energy into muscle tissue, faster. However, there is a catch; if you go to the gym the same number of times each week, and perform the same number of reps when lifting weights, then your body will see no point building extra muscle mass. However, if you progressively increase your benchmark and lift heavier and heavier weights, your body will have no choice than to respond by building more muscle tissue. It needs the extra muscle to meet the demand of your increasing weight load.
In order to stay lean and muscular, you need to build more than your upper torso. A broader chest, stronger arms, and bigger biceps are all very good, but what about the rest of your body? You don’t want to end up looking like an inverted pyramid or Jonny Bravo.
So, while you’re progressively increasing your weight load and building up your chest and arms, you need to include other forms of workouts to build your lower body, including abs, buttocks and thighs. This means you should consider doing compound exercises that would help you work on different muscles at the same time. It may be necessary to get a certified trainer to help you determine the right combination of exercises that will be more effective.
- Keep hydrated
We all know that water is beneficial for health. What most people don’t know is that water is needed to build muscle. Firstly, the human body is made up of about 65% water. To stay healthy, you need to drink half of your body weight in fluids every day. Secondly, without enough fluids in your body, your muscles will not get enough electrolytes needed to build.
Muscles need strength for growth and the loss of even the smallest amount of water can compromise their growth. In a study, The Journal of Strength and Conditioning reports that “1.5% reduction in water consumption can lead to a decrease in muscle strength needed for a one rep bench press”.
So, what is the standard for water consumption? The rule of eight glasses of water per day – while ideal for regular people – will not work for athletes, who are engaged in more physically, strenuous activities and so need more water. The American College of Sports Medicine in Muscle and Fitness Magazine suggests 20 ounces of water before exercising and 40 ounces for every one hour of workout.
- Get enough sleep
Depriving yourself of sleep for even 30 minutes in one night can put you at risk of obesity and diabetes. When working out, your body breaks down muscle tissues; at the end of a workout, your body will use the water and nutrients consumed during the day to build new muscles while you sleep. In essence, you can’t build new muscles if you skimp on sleep. Also, not getting enough sleep causes you to lose appetite, so you will not have enough energy to workout.
So, what do you do? Get at least eight hours of sleep every night, even if you feel wide awake. If you can’t, you can always count backwards to a thousand.
Over to you
That’s all folks. If you follow these five steps, you will definitely build up the muscles you need at a good rate, without gaining fat in the process.