When you build muscle, you’re not just getting bigger and stronger — you’re also making more room for glucose storage. This explains why you feel hungry after your workouts and why your muscles are sore when they’ve been built up, because they need energy from food to heal. The more glycogen your muscles have stored, the more they can resist stress, and the more they grow.
Muscle building requires the right combination of calories and macronutrients: protein, carbs and fat. You can find these in whole foods, such as lean meats, fish, eggs, beans, nuts and seeds. If you’re trying to gain muscle, aim for 1.2 to 1.7 grams of protein per kilogram of body weight each day. This is the amount recommended by the American College of Sports Medicine to stimulate muscle growth and minimize fat gain. Keeping a food diary can help you calculate how much to eat.
A healthy dose of water is also essential for building muscle. Aim for half of your body weight in ounces each day to stay hydrated, and drink a glass of water when you wake up, before every meal and throughout your workouts. Hydration is especially important after exercise, as it prevents muscle soreness and speeds recovery.
The best way to build muscle is to consistently strength train. Try to strength train at least five days a week with workouts that progressively overload the muscles. This is the only way to stimulate new muscle growth. If you’re new to strength training, start with bodyweight exercises like squats without resistance or push-ups and gradually add weight as your skills improve.
It’s also important to rest properly between workouts. A good night’s sleep is essential for repairing and rebuilding your muscles, and you can help yourself get to sleep by turning off electronic devices and sticking to a consistent bedtime.
If you’re gaining too much fat with your muscle gains, consider lowering the rate at which you’re gaining weight. If gaining a pound of muscle each week results in noticeable fat gains, try slowing down your rate of weight gain to 0.5 pounds per week instead.
Finally, it’s worth taking a look at your body composition to see how much fat you have relative to your muscle and bone mass. This is a more accurate picture of your fitness level than just the number on a scale and can be helpful in designing a muscle-building program that works for you. A simple at-home body composition test can be done by stepping on a body fat monitor and measuring your neck, arms, hips, thighs, buttocks, and abdomen. It’s also possible to get an indirect measurement of your body fat by looking at the ratio of your waist circumference to your body weight. A waist that is larger than your hips is indicative of a higher level of body fat. A lower ratio indicates less overall body fat. Generally speaking, women tend to have a lower body fat percentage than men. build muscle