How to Build Muscle 101
Whether new to strength training or struggling to put weight on, it is important to understand how muscle grows. Simply put, the body repairs damaged muscle fibers after workouts via a cellular process – the broken down muscle fibers essentially fuse together to form new muscle protein strands, which eventually increases in size and thickness and assembles muscles growth. Ultimately, muscle growth occurs whenever the rate of muscle protein anabolism (synthesis) exceeds the rate of muscle protein catabolism (breakdown).
Nonetheless, sufficient growth fundamentally requires two components: 1) muscle exertion and 2) a caloric gain. In fact, your lack of results may be the consequence of under-fueling and/or not exerting the efforts the muscles require to breakdown and rebuild. And while muscle-building is not a “one-size-fits-all” approach, these tips for men to gain muscle are backed by evidence and proven to work. (But only if you put in the work, too!)
7 Tips for Skinny Guys to Build Muscle
1. Call in the Professionals
Especially if new to strength training, it is imperative to seek out professional guidance and assistance to avoid injury and show you the ropes. Most gyms offer personal trainers, so at least utilize such services until starting to feel more comfortable and confident navigating through the weight room on your own. A dietitian can also help you determine your nutritional needs for optimal results.
2. Amp Up Protein
Fact: Protein is the building block for muscle growth. But there is an ongoing myth the only way to grow muscle is by slamming down endless volumes of protein shakes and noshing on slabs of animal meats. Whereas the dietary reference intake (DRI) is 0.8 grams of protein per kilogram (g/kg) of body weight, athletes and people looking to build muscle need approximately 1.2 to 1.7g of protein/kg of body mass, with most nutrition experts agreeing no one needs to consume over 2.0 g/kg.
To get your body weight in kilograms, simply divide your weight in pounds by 2.2. For instance, if a male weighs 180 pounds, he would weigh about 82 kg. And if looking to build muscle, multiply weight in kg by 1.2 to 1.7 (based on current dietary needs), which equates to approximately 98 to 140 grams of protein daily. Muscles are also only capable of absorbing an approximate 30 grams of protein during each meal, so space out protein throughout the day to achieve daily requirements.
3. Consider Protein Supplements
Supplements should never replace a well-balanced diet, but rather offer supplemental patches to fill in any sort of nutritional gaps. Whereas incorporating lean animal meats, fatty fish, yogurt, milk, beans, legumes, and other dietary protein sources can help ensure protein needs, a whey protein powder is a convenient and valuable supplemental protein source to help meet daily goals for muscle building.
But before using any sort of supplement, seek expert advice from a sports dietitian or other healthcare professional to ensure their safety and effectiveness.
4. Don’t Forget the Importance of Carbs and Fats
Whereas protein is vital for building muscle, the importance of carb and fat sources in the diet should not be overlooked. In fact, consuming a ratio of at least 3 or 4:1 carbs to protein following a workout is often recommended for optimal results, as carbs increases insulin levels that helps protein shuttle into the muscles.
Balancing protein with fruits is a common recommended practice for proper muscle fueling thanks to their natural carb content, along with potassium and antioxidants to protect against muscle fatigue and cellular damage. Dietary fat can also be helpful for providing energy to fuel exercise, along with assisting the body to absorb valuable fat-soluble vitamins, promoting proper cellular growth and development, and ensuring a metabolic surplus thanks to its caloric-density.
5. Embrace Compound Movements
Compound movements involve multiple joints and large muscle groups such as the chest, back, and legs. Common compound movements include bench and overhead presses, dips, chin-ups and pull-ups, deadlifts, and squats and help you get the most bang for your buck at the gym. Focus on doing such movements for two or three sets of eight to 12 repetitions, with approximately a minute or two of rest between sets.
6. Allow Recovery
While strength training is step 1 in the muscle-building process, recovery is absolutely critical to bare any sort of results. Nonetheless, muscles grow when resting, not when you are working out…
So grant the body the recovery it requires by fueling it promptly and adequately, sleeping the recommended seven to nine hours each night, and drinking at least 64-ounces of water daily.
7. Modify as Needed
If finding results stagnant, you may need to modify your regimen. Ultimately, you need to challenge your muscles to trigger growth, but doing so in a safe manner. Continue progress while reducing the risk of injury by noticing the effort (or lack thereof) exerted when lifting with proper form.
And if the last few reps are comparable to the first few, perhaps it is time to advance to a heavier weight or increase reps and sets. Also adjust nutritional requirements as needed, particularly as workouts become more strenuous and muscle starts to displace fat.