Just exercising and eating a sufficient amount of calories is enough to gain a little muscle mass, but also a good way to pack on some extra unwanted pounds.
If you want to do it right, it’s best to take a strategic approach, so that you can maximize lean muscle gains and minimize unwanted fat and the prolonged cutting phase it takes to get rid of it. Thankfully, it’s all a matter of establishing a few basic good habits.
Today we’re going to give you 5 useful tips for gaining lean muscle mass so that you can set up your own routine and take advantage of methods that seasoned pros recommend and for good reason – they absolutely work. Let’s take a look at what you need to know about gaining lean muscle mass!
1. Eat enough protein
Good clean whey protein is a must. While you can get protein easily from various meat, depending on the type of meat and how it’s you’re going to have varying amounts of fats and additional calories that you could easily be avoiding by using supplements to get the lion’s share of protein that you need.
Vegetables can get you protein too, but with a supplement you can calculate what you need and avoid a time-consuming overhaul of your everyday diet. So, how much do you really need? Well, let’s say that you weigh about 150 pounds currently. The ideal amount, in this case, would be around 82 – 16 grams daily.
This is based on research that suggests that the ‘sweet spot’ for protein ingested daily during workouts comes to around 1.2 to 2 grams for every 2.2 pounds/1 kilo of body weight. By comparison, if you weren’t working out, you’d need considerably less – around .8 grams per 2.2 pounds/1 kilo of your body weight.
Aside from powdered supplements, foods such as fish and poultry offer a lot of protein, with fish providing around 20 grams per every 3 ounces consumed, while poultry packs a little more ‘kick’ at 25 grams per 3 ounces. As protein provides the building blocks for building lean muscle mass, this first tip is paramount to your success.
2. Take a creatine supplement
In a staggering number of studies, Creatine has been proven time and time again to not only assist in longer workouts, but also to increase your energy for higher lifts to push your limits, and for recovery once you’re tired and sore from your workout.
Phosphocreatine actually occurs in your body naturally, where it hangs out in your muscle cells in order to help you to push through those repetitions and to give you that extra ‘oomph!’ needed to lift a weight that is heavier than what you’re used to.
While your liver and kidneys can produce it from food, it is replenished very slowly, and this is where your Creatine supplement comes in. By taking 20 to 30 grams a day for a period of 5 to 6 days, your body can process phosphocreatine 30% faster and you’ll be able to exercise longer and harder than before.
With the bench press, resistance training improves on average at a minimum of 8%, while weight lifting improves an average of 14%, and bench lifts can benefit as much 16 – 45%, depending on the individual. This is why you see Creatine available in every gym that you visit – it works. Visit an online supplement store to order your creatine, as this is the most convenient way.
3. Eat every three hours
While the traditional division of meals is ‘3 squares a day’, with interspersed snacking for a little extra energy, that’s not going to cut it for your training. The reason for this is actually fairly simple. Your body stores fat so that you’ll have energy for later, but it doesn’t do this blindly.
Your body knows how often you eat and what building blocks you are giving it to work with, and it bases this on the frequency and content of your daily meals.
That’s why skipping meals is a bad idea when you are dieting – your body thinks that there’s no food around and it’s going to store everything it can to keep you from starving in a worst-case scenario. It’s a basic survival instinct. That said, it’s one that you can take advantage of.
By eating every 3 hours, your body is going to store less fat, because it knows that there is plenty of food around and that it will be getting it on a regular basis. As such, storing fat becomes a lower-priority option, while building mass when the food is plentiful takes the lead. It’s simple, and effective, and it works!
4. Stay hydrated
According to the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and medicine, men need approximately 3.77 liters of water a day, while women need about 2.7. This is just for everyday activity, so you’re going to need more if you are actively working to build lean muscle mass if you want efficient, predictable gains.
If you’re working out without being properly hydrated, you’ll have less water content in your muscles, ensuring that you fatigue more quickly and you’ll have an increased chance of injury during your workout. Furthermore, as you’ll be sweating, you’ll be losing even more water as you go.
Considering that the male body is around 60% water and the female body is 55%, proper hydration is not only crucial for your fitness regimen but neglecting it is also potentially very unsafe. On the low end you’ve got fatigued and reduced performance to consider, but heat stress and increased heart rate may also come into play.
The simplest way to view it is that without enough water, your body cannot regulate heat efficiently, so any aggressive activity is going to suffer as a result of this. It’s easy to fix, so buy a few 1-liter bottles of water and you can simply refill them the night before and put them in the fridge.
That way, you can measure your minimums and make sure that you are getting those, and drink a little extra during your workout just to keep your bases covered.
5. Get enough sleep
If you’re not getting enough sleep then you are deliberately slowing your gains – period. Sleep is the time when your mind refreshes itself and makes repairs. This prepares you for the next day and gives your body time for a little ‘preventative maintenance’, where muscle tissue may be repaired, built, and maintained – all while you sleep.
Sleep is often taken for granted (especially when you are young), but you have to keep in mind that this is the time when almost every tissue in your body is going to be maintained, ‘assessed for damage’, and subsequently repaired or even built up. It even affects your diet!
Without enough sleep, you are more likely to overeat or to choose unhealthy foods that give you a ‘sugar rush’ or another short-lived nutritional boost, and this is definitely the bane of making ‘clean and lean’ muscle gains.
For best results, make a sleep schedule, and STICK to it. When your body learns that it will get ‘downtime’ to do what it needs to do on a regular basis and without fail, then you will FEEL the difference in your performance and see the results in your lean gains.
In this article, we’ve covered 5 useful tips for gaining lean muscle mass and as you can see, they aren’t all that complicated. Just be sure to get enough protein to build that mass and use Creatine to increase recovery, duration of workouts, and energy for higher, more-challenging lifts.
Eating every 3 hours will encourage your body to store less fat and staying hydrated will help your body to regulate your heat during workouts so that you don’t tire out too soon. Finally, don’t replace sleep with energy drinks or other means – your body does most of its ‘maintenance’ work while you are sleeping and dreaming.
Once your body knows that you won’t be skipping out on sleep, you’ll be amazed at how well it will perform for you. Give these 5 tips a try and you’ll see for yourself – lean muscle gains don’t have to be rocket science, you’ve just got to get back to the basics!