Everyone will benefit from building muscle. From the person who works in the office every day to the athlete that must perform at their best on the field will reap the benefits of building muscle.
Muscles are the soft tissue that are made from fibers that stretch and contract. You have voluntary muscles which you consciously activate and move while there’s involuntary muscles that you can’t control. Different types of muscles perform different jobs and there are three types of muscles.
- Skeletal muscles: Voluntary muscles that form part of musculoskeletal system and they work with your bones, tendons and ligaments. They support your weight and help you move.
- Cardiac: The involuntary muscles that line the wall of your heart and help the heart pump blood into cardiovascular system.
- Smooth: Organs such as your bladder, stomach and intestines are lined by these muscles. They are involuntary and help your body carry out its daily functions such as removing waste out of the body and helping with the movement of your lungs when you breathe. They form part of the reproductive, respiratory and urinary systems.
You can build muscle the moment you are physically able to handle the resistance on your body. Use your body weight, resistance bands or dumbbells, barbells and machines in the gym. You will have a set period or block in which you specifically train to build muscle when you are an athlete.
Why You Need To Build Muscle
Building muscle has many benefits that make it a necessity for living a healthy lifestyle. You will build muscle, get stronger and lose fat. Below are the general benefits of building muscle which helps you live a healthier lifestyle.
- Muscle provides support for your bones and joints because the pressure that they put on your bones helps them become sturdier and increases their density. The older you get, the more your bone mass decreases, making them more fragile and susceptible to breaking easily. It is important to consistently build muscle to strengthen your bones, while ensuring intake of calcium and other bone minerals. Your joints tend to absorb a lot of impact from any movement that we do. The more muscle you build, the more the impact will be absorbed by them in and around the joints. This reduces the chances of injury to the joint and long-term damage.
- Building muscle increases your metabolic rate which is the amount of energy your body burns to perform its daily functions. Muscle cells burn energy, so the more muscle you build, the more energy you burn to maintain these muscles. Energy translates to calories or kilojoules that are found in all that we consume. They are the units of energy.
- It decreases the risk of disease because building muscle improves the strength of your bones which will reduce the chances or speed of developing Osteoporosis which is a disease that occurs when your bone density decreases more than it is replaced. It leads to bones becoming fragile and easier to break. Building muscle will increase your metabolic rate which increases your burning of calories. Burning more calories will lead to the burning of fat if your diet is also healthy. The less fat that you store, the less chance you will become obese.
Building Muscle vs Getting Stronger
Training to build muscle aims to induce the increase and growth of muscle tissue while training to get stronger aims to improve the functionality of the muscle. Building muscle requires higher training volume in sets and reps, while not resting for too long between sets. Getting stronger requires you to lift heavier weight while having less sets and reps. You rest longer than when you’re training to build muscle. The table below will give you an idea of how your sessions would look for either.
|Type of Training
|Sets per Exercise
|Reps per Exercise
|Rest Time per Set
|70 – 80% 1 RM
|80 – 100 % 1 RM
Building Muscle Will Burn Fat And Get You Toned
The people of the health and fitness industry will always throw the term “tone” into any weight loss article. Many people misunderstand the term and think that it can be done without building muscle. It becomes a problem because weight loss can lead to you losing your fat and muscle without some sort of resistance training that will help you maintain that muscle and a diet that is high in protein.
Toning is when you lose fat around your body revealing the muscle that was initially covered by the fat that you had prior to the toning. Now if you were not to maintain this muscle by having resistance training, you will only reveal your hereditary muscle and bone mass. Building muscle will help you burn this fat by increasing your metabolic rate and burning more calories while maintaining your muscle mass, giving you the toned look.
The Exercises That Build The Most Muscle
All the following exercises will fall into either bodyweight, dumbbell or barbell exercises. The exercises that would be considered to build the most muscles are compound exercises. They activate two or more muscles with every rep.
- Squats work your whole lower body, but since the weight is carried on your shoulders, you also activate your upper body and your core in stabilizing the movement and the weight. Your body.
- Deadlifts are great at activating most of the muscles of your body while also increasing your overall strength. You will require a barbell on which you can add weight to do this exercise.
- Bench Press is a great upper body exercise that builds your chest, shoulders and triceps. It also helps improve your overall upper body strength, especially with pushing movements. You can use a barbell or dumbells to complete this exercise.
- Shoulder Press helps you build the muscles around your shoulders, upper chest and triceps. You can use barbells or dumbbells or machines.
- Back Rows are great for your upper back and biceps with many alternatives that provide different levels of intensity such barbell or dumbbell bent over rows, seated cable rows, T-bar rows and even machines.
- Dips are great for developing your upper body strength, but they also make for a great muscle building exercise working your chest, triceps and shoulders. You can do them at a dipping station or on an elevated flat surface as an alternative. You can increase intensity by holding a dumbbell or plate between your legs.
- Pull ups are another body weight exercise that work most of the upper body besides the lower back and triceps. You need a pull up station and just like the dips, can add weight to increase intensity.
How To Diet When Building Muscle
Your diet is what you consume daily and it is the fuel of your muscles. You will not build the muscle you plan to if you’re not providing the right fuel for it to grow. This is a guideline of how your diet should look like to build muscle.
A diet that is high in protein will help you build more muscle because protein is the building blocks of your muscles. You must aim to eat 2 g of protein per kg of body weight per day to consume sufficient protein, fuel and recover your muscles. Eating protein at every meal will make this a lot easier to achieve and is healthy.
Drink at least 2 litres of water per day because your body is made up of 60% of water and this water fills your cells, including your muscle cells. Your muscles will not grow in size if you are not consuming sufficient water.
Schedule your meal times to ensure that you’re providing your muscles with enough energy to sustain the day, a workout and to recover after the workout. A good start would be to eat your meals and snacks every three hours being breakfast, snack, lunch, snack, dinner and maybe another snack before bed.
Consume healthy fats because they sustain your appetite for longer. They will help reduce your body’s fat content and revealing your muscles to look toned. Healthy fats come in the form of vegetable oils, nuts, seeds, avocados and fatty fish. They must be consumed in relatively lower quantities because their calories tend to be higher than carbs and protein.
Breakdown your macronutrients (carbs, protein and fats) in your meals and ensure that you adhere to the points above. Your protein must be high, you must provide sufficient energy to your body throughout the day from your carbs and fats. A great macro ratio to start with would be consuming 30% carbs 40% protein 30% fats.
What Supplements Help You Build Muscle
Supplements support your diet and are not necessary to build muscle. They are very beneficial if you are a busy individual to ensure that you achieve the goals of your diet. I recommend these two because they are easily digested by the body and work very well in building muscle.
- Creatine is naturally occurring in the body and also found in milk, red meat and seafood. It helps supply the muscles in your body with energy when they are working, improving their performance. It also helps with water retention which keeps the muscle cells’ size. When you take Creatine as a supplement, you must go through a loading period for about a week and then from then on maintain your levels.
- Whey Protein is a supplement that is derived from different protein sources, flavoured and processed into a powder that supplements your diet. It is helpful as an extra protein source, especially if you’ve skipped meals throughout the day.
Build Muscle And Lose Fat With This Workout Plan
A program that takes into consideration all that has been mentioned above, packed with a structured workout plan that leads to you building muscle. It also includes some cardio that will help you burn more calories to lose fat. A calorie calculator is there which will help you with your macro breakdown to ensure your diet matches your workout plan. Important things to note about training to build muscle.
- Lift heavy weights to cause more micro-tears in your muscles for them to repair and grow in size.
- Progressively increase the resistance you put on your muscles to gradually grow them and prevent injury.
- Perfect your form with a lighter weight before going heavier, to prevent injuries.
- Train consistently with the same program for at least four weeks before you change it.