Gains is the golden word of the bodybuilding world. The word that means progress and a visible representation of all our hard work. But getting those gains isn’t always that easy.
For many this struggle is down to commitment, for some it’s their body type. But whatever the case, there is help at hand.
If you get the next 10 steps in order, then it’s simply down to you.
1. Eat more
One of the most common errors in bodybuilding is consuming massive amounts of protein but not eating enough calories per day. Although your muscles need sufficient protein to grow, it is vital that you consume adequate calories too. If you don’t consume enough calories, you’re not providing your body with the surplus energy it requires to grow.
Calculating your required calorie intake for muscle growth to within a kcal is possible, but a simple method is to take your bodyweight in lb’s and multiply this by 10 or 12 depending on how in shape you are. Then add on 1000-1500 calories per day. So if you’re a 150 lb man you should be aiming for around 2500 – 3300 kcals.
2. Get enough protein
Skeletal muscle is made up of protein, and protein is composed of amino acids. Therefore it’s impossible to build new muscle without adequate protein.
Getting enough protein in your diet for muscle growth is well known, but as an example you should consume anywhere between one to two grams of protein per pound of bodyweight. So if you weigh 150 lb you should be aiming for approximately 150-300g of protein per day.
Supplementing with protein powder is a useful tool, but you should try to get your protein primarily from foods such as beef, chicken, fish, whey, and egg whites.
3. Don’t be carb-phobic
Carbohydrates are needed to fuel most exercises and are stored in skeletal muscle as glycogen.
Keeping your body full of carbohydrates is the best way to ensure your body maintains an anabolic environment. Carbohydrates, and glucose in particular, are important regulators of insulin, which is one of the body’s favourite anabolic substances that enhances muscle protein synthesis.
4. Eat multiple meals
Since you’re now eating the correct amount of calories per day, you need to split this calorie intake up into 6 meals per day. Break the supply of protein into smaller servings throughout the day for better absorption and digestion.
Also, if you divide 3500 calories into 6 smaller meals a day, then each meal only needs to consists of approximately 580 calories. Although it takes more planning and discipline, eating smaller, more frequent meals will pay off in the end.
5. Plan your pre-workout snack
The perfect pre-training meal involves slow digesting carbohydrates like sweet potato or oats. The reason is that slow burning carbs take longer to convert into glucose, thus keeping blood sugar levels relatively consistent.
This keeps your body from having an energy crash, allowing you to train longer and harder. Be sure to combine this meal with a healthy serving of good protein as well, to maximize gains.
6. Eat plenty of good fat
A common misconception is that all fat is bad. When new trainers first start hitting the gym properly they tend to steer away from fats. However, fats are actually important in muscle growth and have a direct relationship with testosterone levels. This is because you will be consuming more calories, which means more energy for your muscles to grow.
7. Hydrate yourself properly
Probably the most important factor of any exercise session is proper hydration. Your body is made up of 70% water, and dehydration negatively affects both performance and muscle size.
8. Eat a post-workout meal
The post-workout meal should be rich in high GI carbs (fast digesting) and protein. If your meal is high in fast digesting carbs but lacking in protein, you could top up with a whey protein powder. For the average trainer, a ballpark figure of 40 g protein and 70 g of carbohydrates is plenty.
9. Use supplements as required
Supplements should never be used in place of real food and will never be as beneficial to the human body as real food. But products like protein powders, creatine and multivitamins can significantly help you reach the macro and micronutrient values needed to grow your muscles.
10. Go to bed on time
Rest is vital. It gives your body the chance to repair, recharge and grow. If you inhibit rest you are inhibiting the production of vital muscle building hormones.