Preliminaries of building muscle mass: What you need to know to lay the groundwork
Building muscle mass is one of the primary fitness goals of most people who start going to the gym. However, achieving this goal is more complicated than it might seem initially. It’s crucial to remain consistent throughout the journey, as building muscle requires constant engagement and adopting lifestyle changes that might be fundamentally different from the habits and routines you’re familiar with. And while there’s no one-size-fits-all to achieve this goal, there are a few things that will undoubtedly yield results.
But what are the benefits of building muscle? You might think that unless you’re aiming for a fitness modeling or bodybuilding career, there’s no reason to concern yourself with this aspect. However, that’s not true. Regardless of what type of exercise you do, how much movement you get throughout a day, or how often you go to the gym. Whether your favorite workout involves lifting weights, cycling or stretching, you’ll find that the moment you start building muscle, your overall athletic endeavors will be easier to achieve.
It’s also essential for your general health, as muscles absorb some of the impacts that radiate through joints. This effect is ever-present as a consequence of daily activities such as walking. While there are no immediate effects, you’ll start noticing the damage over the long term. Improved muscle function provides better support and reduces the possibility of accidents or injuries.
As people get older, bone density becomes increasingly more important, as mass decreases and bones become more brittle and prone to breaks. This process is known as osteoporosis, and while it is nothing more than a normal aging process for many, it’s still important to protect yourself. Building muscle mass is one of the ways, as the extra weight and pressure help the tissue become sturdier.
The food you eat plays a vital role in fueling your muscle growth, yet nutritional supplements are often just as critical. These can bolster your diet and act as key facilitators in achieving your fitness goals. Among the various supplements necessary for building muscle mass, creatine reigns supreme.
Beta-alanine is also used to improve exercise output and reduce post-workout fatigue. However, research shows that supplementation doesn’t contribute to boosting muscle mass unless you follow a serious exercise program. Whey protein powder is also highly recommended, as it contains all nine essential amino acids. If you strength train regularly, you’ll need around 0.45 grams per pound daily.
It’s important to remember that supplements won’t replace a healthy diet. Protein is essential, but don’t overdo it, as it can affect your kidneys. Keep carbs for after the workout, and don’t shy away from fruits and veggies, as they’re low calorie and can keep you full without gaining extra fat. Just be mindful of the sugar content of some fruits, as it can be higher than what you need. And add a creatine gummy for the extra benefits.
The exercise you choose is also crucial, and it naturally all depends on the areas you want to target first. For instance, if you want to work the biceps, the best option is isolated exercises targeting the location, such as curls. Compound movements like pull-ups are another set of movements you can try. Both yield similar results when it comes to promoting muscle hypertrophy, so you want to have a workout regime that includes both.
A diversified workout is one of the best training methods because it promotes better functional movement, making it more efficient and providing better practical strength. In the beginning, however, you might feel more comfortable focusing on isolation movements rather than compounds. They’re also generally easier to perform before one of your rest days, as you’ll likely be more tired. Since you don’t have to stabilize your entire body, they’re overall easier to perform.
Rest is the most important remedy in this situation, and depending on the extent of your overtraining, you might need to take a longer break from most or all activities. Hot and cold therapy, massages, saunas, heating pads and ice packs can also help reduce swelling or irritation.
Gaining muscle mass is a gradual process, and you need to put in consistent effort to see results. But it’ll be well worth the time and work you put in.
M&F and editorial staff were not involved in the creation of this content.