The best way to build muscle is to optimize the entire process of muscle growth. Make perfect every single part, from your workout to what you eat to what your hormones are doing.
Weight training is one of the best methods of strength training! If you want to start weight training safely and effectively, with the best info, diet, and routines, check out the 5 Day Beginner Weight Training Course!
But if you have all the internal body processes for building muscle down, and then make your workout the best it can be, you'll build a ton of muscle. And fast! It's as simple as that. So, let's start some muscle growing...
Make your workout the best it can be for growing muscle. This is relatively simple, but at the same time it takes work on your part. Serious work.
Use a relatively high rep count to build muscle. This means that you'll fatigue out your slow twitch muscle fibers first, and be forced to recruit your fast twitch muscle fibers during your last, most difficult repetitions - the premium stuff!
The legs and back have big muscle groups that are extremely powerful. The gluteus in your butt, your quads in your thighs, and all of your spinal erector muscles are huge muscle groups. Use them!
I love kettlebell swings for building up my legs. You can do high reps with them, and they're easier for me to go lower with and get that full range of motion.
Barbell squats and deadlifts are next on the list, since they are big lifts that use a lot of muscle. Use them as well!
Workout to the point of exhaustion. This is more than just to 'build character', working out until you're completely spent and can't do any more means exhausting all of your muscle fibers so that every part of your muscle has gotten the workout.
Food can have a significant impact on your hormones, and optimizing your hormones is the best way to build muscle. Check out these guidelines for eating correctly to build muscle, and how your muscle building foods help you.
I've laid out how to eat and what that does for your hormones in excruciating detail!
If you just want to know what to do, skip to the bottom of the page and read The Best Way to Build Muscle: In a Nutshell… With that, you'll be able to take action and start eating correctly immediately.
You should eat carbohydrates and protein before and after your workout. I cannot stress this enough.
This (1) gives you the raw building blocks of muscle (protein) to build more muscle. It also (2) gives you carbohydrates, which causes your body to secrete the hormone insulin, which helps with all kinds of tissue growth.
This sounds pretty simple, but the reasons to eat carbohydrates and protein together I've listed above are incredibly powerful. They will assist your exercise to build muscle.
The internal body mechanics that promote muscle growth are primarily hormonal. Other than your workout, you want to maximize your muscle building hormone profile to get the most out of each workout.
If you workout and don't eat, and don't get your hormones to do cool stuff, that's definitely not the best way to build muscle. It's actually the best way to wear down your muscles.
Insulin is a very, very interesting hormone. Your body primarily secretes it in response to dietary carbohydrates, and insulin is a very potent hormone that triggers tissue growth in the body.
If you eat something sugary right after your workout (when your muscles are damaged) you can help your muscles grow with the insulin that gets released. When carbs are paired with protein (the building blocks of muscle), you give your muscles the building blocks they need to get bigger, along with an extra hormonal boost to grow even more.
Cortisol is, basically, the stress hormone. Your body releases it when you're stressed out, physically and emotionally, and it is not the best way to build muscle. Or build any muscle!
Cortisol is catabolic, meaning that it breaks down tissue in your body and inhibits growth and protein synthesis. And protein synthesis is vitally important for building more muscle!
So try to stay relaxed and, funny as it sounds, don't stress about being stressed. Try to avoid stressors, especially chronic stressors - they're the worst.
Oh, and be sure to sign up for the e-zine Starting Strong to get monthly strength training, exercise, and diet tips e-mailed to you - and access to the free e-book Train Smart, Eat Smart: Exercise Nutrition Hacks!
Best Way To Build Muscle: Harness Your Hormones!
1. King, Ian, and Lou Schuler. 2003. The Book of Muscle: The World's Most Authoritative Guide to Building Your Body. [Emmaus, Pa.]: Rodale. Pp. 38.
3. Ibid. Pp. 40.
4. Ibid. Pp. 42.
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