A priority for a lot of our personal training clients is to build muscle. The benefits of having a well-developed level of muscle mass extends to those seeking to improve athletic performance, strength, fat loss, overall health, injury prevention, and the obvious improvements to physical appearance. With an extensive list of benefits, it is easy to see why people seek out personal training services to help them improve their muscle mass.
There are many variables and methods to consider when it comes to building muscle. And there are also a number of things which can negatively impact your ability to build muscle too. Below are a few tips we give to our personal training clients to ensure they make the most of their muscle building efforts.
Tip #1 – Don’t Be Lazy with Your Sleep
The importance of a good night’s sleep can never be understated, particularly when trying to gain muscle mass. We explain to our personal training clients that the majority of muscle growth and recovery is done while sleeping and cutting that sleep short will result in muscular fatigue, nervous system fatigue, and the inability to pack on as much muscle from training as possible.
The goal we set for our personal training clients is to get as close to 8 hours of unbroken sleep per night. Things to avoid doing before bed that could affect your ability to sleep include exposure to television and phone screens, caffeine consumption, and training late at night can disrupt your ability to get to sleep.
If you’re looking for ways to improve your sleep, read our blog: The 3 Things That Could Be Ruining Your Sleep.
Tip #2 – Leave the Ego at Home
Lifting weights is what will help develop muscle mass, but going to the gym and throwing weights around without any purpose or intent will short change you of any results.
The focus of weight’s training for muscle growth isn’t to lift the heaviest possible weight you can. There needs to be focus on how well you contract the muscle and apply tension, and also how well you can prioritise the muscle you are training, without incorporating other muscles into the exercise.
If you aren’t contracting your target muscle well and you’re just moving the weight from A to B, then chances are you won’t be getting the most out of your reps.
Performing an exercise with a slightly lighter weight with a better contraction, more tension, and better form to ensure the muscle is prioritised will yield far better results than just moving a heavy weight around.
Tip #3 – Watch What You Eat – And How Much
A common mistake made when trying to put on size is the belief that you need to eat an absurd amount of calories to achieve it. Truth is, a 10% calorie surplus will produce adequate growth without gaining excessive amounts of body fat along the way, provided your training and nutrition is well planned.
Food selection during a hypertrophy phase is extremely important. With the increases in calorie consumption, it can be quite easy to justify poor food selections. Don’t get me wrong, eating a doughnut or a cookie won’t destroy your health and cause you to gain excessive amounts of fat. But when the occasional indulgent becomes the bulk of your daily calories, you run the risk of jeopardising insulin sensitivity, inflammation, blood markers, and also your ability to keep body fat gain to a minimum.
In a nutshell, the aim for nutrition when looking to gain muscle mass is to increase calories above baseline, and consume the bulk of your calories from quality foods.
There are some many aspects of building muscle that you can work around or negotiate with, have adequate sleep, proper lifting technique and intent, and adequate food consumption are definitely non-negotiable. If these three things are optimal, you will be well on your way to building some quality muscle mass.