Gain Muscle Mass
With almost two thirds of Americans now overweight, it seems hard for most people to imagine that anyone would want to gain muscle mass! However, for many athletes in sports in which speed, power, and size are necessary, adding muscle mass can provide a competitive advantage – the key is to ensure that you acquire lean body tissue, not fat.
Whenever people start trying to add muscle mass they want to know how much they can expect to gain. This will depend on a number of factors, including:
• Prior resistance-training experience
• Current body mass
• Training protocols
The best gains are typically seen in young (18-25) male body builders – they frequently achieve increases of up to 20% during their first year of heavy resistance training. However, this is the exception – for most people, increases in the range of 1 – 5% per year are more normal.
The two biggest factors will ultimately be an effective training program and good diet. It is impossible to experience significant weight gain without substantially increasing your dietary intake – so what kind of diet supports this?
First and foremost you need a high-carbohydrate diet – this allows the body to recover muscle glycogen (energy) as rapidly as possible, thus allowing you to recover quickly and train hard on successive days.
In addition, athletes who are exercising hard on a regular basis need to eat more protein than sedentary individuals. While there is widespread discussion over the exact amount of protein needed by athletes, most experts agree that to maximize muscle growth, you need up to eat twice as much protein per pound of body mass as sedentary individuals.
Of course the best diet in the world will do nothing without an effective training program. Years of research and experience has taught us that to increase gain muscle mass, you need to adhere to the following principles:
• Periodized Resistance Training: You have to vary your training throughout the year, constantly changing what you do to challenge your body. Start with lower weights and higher repetitions per set (10-12), then periodically switch to heavier weights and fewer repetitions per set (6-8) as your body adapts.
• Train with Intensity: To maximize growth you have to challenge your body. That means your goal in the gym should be to lift as much weight as possible in as little time as possible. Leisurely workouts with long rest periods are a waste of time.
• Change: You have to constantly surprise the muscles. You should always be looking for different ways to do things – new exercises, a different order to your workout, a sudden high rep workout in the middle of a period of heavy workouts, etc.
• Failure: Some – but not all – of your training should be to failure. Pick one body part per session and train it to exhaustion. Do this for a different body part each time you train.
• Frequency: You have to train at least four days per week to maximize the training effect.
• Cardio Work: For maximum increases in lean body mass, aerobic training should be reduced if not eliminated.
• Recovery: Recovery between sessions must be greater than 24 hours to maximize the training effect. In addition, you need one or two days off per week – muscles grow not in the gym, but when you are resting.
Women who wish to increase their muscle mass will want to check out the female building page.
Follow these principles and you will find that while the work is hard, you can gain muscle mass.
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