Eight essential tips for gaining muscle mass
Triggering new muscle growth can seem a tricky enterprise, but what works is relatively simple to understand
It involves a consistent approach to training, goal-setting, nutrition and recovery. Here are eight ways to maximise your muscle mass:
Set a goal
"Set yourself a goal and timeframe", says Dom Rzadowski, Senior Master Trainer at Anytime Fitness UK.
"An average person will gain 1kg of lean muscle mass a month, but with dedication you can at least double that".
Plan your workouts
"Plan your training based on the method of resistance you choose", Rzadowski adds.
"Remember compound movements and their importance."
You'll need to be hitting each muscle group at least twice a week, ideally - with a variety of set and rep ranges.
Compound lifts are crucial
On that last point, prioritise exercises such as the squat, bench and deadlift, plus variations of these lifts such as the front squat, incline bench press and trap bar deadlift.
Other key compound lifts include pull-ups, overhead press and weighted dips. These work multiple muscle groups at once and the smaller muscles that are difficult to target alone.
Calculate your calories
This isn't as tough as it sounds. Rzadowski states:
"Establish your basal metabolic rate (BMR). Download one of the many free apps that can do it for you.
"Multiply your result by the status of your activity
- 1.0 - Sedentary
- 1.2 - Very light activity
- 1.4 - Light activity
- 1.6 - Moderate activity
- 1.8 - High activity
- 2.0 - Extreme activity
That will give you your calorie target per day."
Protein is a macronutrient that plays a crucial role in helping your muscles grow and recover from gym sessions.
The American College of Sports Medicine recommend anywhere from 1.5 to 2 grams of protein per kilo of body weight, each day.
For an 80 kilo male, that's 120 to 160 grams.
Manage your macros
Carbs and fats are still important for providing your body with fuel.
"Calculate your carbohydrate needs per day", says Rzadowski.
"For more muscle mass, or bodybuilding in general, aim for 1.2 – 1.7 grams of carbohydrate per kg of body weight each day.
"Convert grams to calories.
- 1g protein = 4 calories
- 1g carbs = 4kcal
- 1g of fat = 9cal
You can see that fat will be the 'leftover' calories after you've established protein and carb needs."
The quality of your food plays an influential role. Opt for proteins of a high bioavailability with good digestion, such as eggs and whey protein.
These foods have a wide array of amino acids that your body will rapidly make use of for helping to grow and repair muscle tissue.
Sleep on it
Getting a good six to eight hours of sleep a night is essential for gaining muscle mass.
A good night's shut-eye stimulates your natural production of testosterone and growth hormone - these regulate your response to resistance training, as well as general recovery.