5 Fast Muscle Gain Secrets! is Part 2 of the5 Ways to Build Muscle Fast series. Click here to start at Part 1, or begin reading below!
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OK, you've had your great workout. You've stimulated your body to put on more muscle.
Now you need to allow it the time to grow that muscle.
This is one of the most important parts of gaining muscle fast. Working out makes you weaker, and resting is when you actually build up those muscles.
You might think about it as the yin of fast muscle gain, to complement the yang of lifting weights. Both are important.
It takes time to grow muscle. More time than you probably think.
The next time you get a cut or a burn, mentally take note of how long it takes your body to heal. It's actually pretty slow, isn't it?
And for muscle, you're asking your body to build a significant amount of a really metabolically expensive tissue, muscle, which burns a lot of calories. Your body wants to have only as much muscle as it can get away with, so it doesn't waste energy.
So it can take around a week or even longer to build up your muscles. That's right, a week of resting. Invest the time that it takes to grow your muscles.
And while you're waiting, make sure that you...
Sleep is when your body recovers. This is when it puts most of its energy into rebuilding your body. In a nutshell, sleep is essential for fast muscle gain.
Want to grow a lot of muscle? Sleep!
Make it a priority. Seriously. Go to bed early, sleep in when you can, and take naps when you're tired.
This seems simple, but it really makes a difference. And most people aren't wise enough to make sleep a priority for recovery - which is one reason they gain muscle so slowly.
Don't just skip over this since it's so cheap and easy and, well, normal. Water helps you recover.
Adequate hydration maximizes nutrient delivery to your muscles, as well as helping to flush out waste products after exercise. So to make sure your muscles get all the nutrients they need, drink your water.
Also, muscle growth is largely driven by hormones. Growth hormone and testosterone are the most important. Water helps these hormones (and others) to circulate around your body in the bloodstream and reach the places they need to reach.
Drink water. It really helps.
Good nutrition is also essential for fast muscle gain. And you can drink post-workout protein shakes, but that's not really what I mean.
Real good nutrition simply means eating enough to recover. Not 5 steaks a day (which will just pack on extra calories to become fat), but enough calories to build that muscle and enough vitamins and minerals to build up your body.
Eating tons more won't help you recover faster. You can do a test: lift weights, then eat 5 steaks. You'll still be sore the next day.
Nutrition helps your recover, but more food beyond a little extra won't help you recover even faster. You still need to rest for about a week or more.
Vitamins and minerals play an important role in your body's recovery. And the best way to absorb them is in fresh, delicious food (and tasty protein to build muscles).
Yes, relax. As new-agey as it sounds, relaxation helps.
Try to minimize life stressors when you're trying to put on muscle. Cortisol, the hormone that is released when you're under chronic stress, actually has a catabolic effect on muscle (it breaks muscle down).
When you're taking time off from the gym, don't cultivate training angst. Try not to stress about the little stuff in your life. Relaxation will put on muscle.
Supplements are one of the less productive ways to build muscle. True, in some circumstances they can help, but if you have the correct growth stimulus and eat well, then supplements aren't all they're cracked up to be.
And frankly, most supplements on the market are crap. With very little (if any) evidence to show that they work.
If you are buying supplements though, the first you should buy is a multivitamin. Fresh foods have far and away more vitamins, minerals, and other nutrients than any pill. But a multivitamin is a good bit of insurance.
If you've spent your money on good, high quality food and you've chosen a good multivitamin, that's the time to think about supplements. And I'll say it again, they aren't silver bullets - but they can help.
Creatine Monohydrate is one of the few supplements that actually has a consistent track record of adding muscle in studies. If you're going to take any supplements, creatine is one of the ways to build muscle fast that's been proven to work.
HMB (with the intimidating chemical name beta-hydroxy-beta-methylbutyrate) has also been shown to be effective for building lean muscle mass. Also, the dose range is quite low for most studies showing a benefit (around 3 g), making it economical and easy to add to your routine.
Also, there's at least one study that shows HMB and Creatine taken together have a synergistic effect.3 That means these two make a good combination.
There are 20 amino acids in the genetic code, and an amino acid is a primary building block for your body. Protein is made up of amino acids.
Nine amino acids are considered 'essential' amino acids, meaning you have to eat them regularly for your body to get enough of them. This is why you should eat some form of protein regularly. And 3 of those essential amino acids are 'branched chain' amino acids (leucine, isoleucine and valine), which directly help with muscle protein synthesis (fast muscle gain).
BCAAs have been used as supplements for many years, and the dosages that are usually recommended range from 5 to 15 g. Try taking them before or after your workout to provide your muscles with the exact proteins they need for fast muscle gain.
Arginine (also referred to as L-Arginine) is an α (alpha)-amino acid, and used in newborns to test the release of growth hormone. Thus, if you want to release growth hormone for fast muscle building, arginine can be helpful.
Unfortunately, most commercially available arginine supplements have a short shelf life and are not high quality. They tend to break down in your stomach before you can take advantage of them. And there have been some tests showing that orally taken arginine doesn't release growth hormone, either because of stomach acids or some other mechanism.
If you do want to experiment with taking arginine, I'd recommend that you find a really good, reputable brand. And then drop the money for it.
Now you're armed with all the know-how to get the most out of your weight training for fast muscle gain. Well, almost all the know-how.
Go on to Part 3 and learn the last fast muscle gain secrets you need!
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!
5 Fast Muscle Gain Secrets!
1. McGuff, Doug, and John R. Little. 2009. Body by Science: A Research Based Program to Get The Results You Want in 12 Minutes a Week. New York: McGraw-Hill. Pp. 121.
2. Ibid. Pp. 122.
3. Jówko E, Ostaszewski P, Jank M, Sacharuk J, Zieniewicz A, Wilczak J, Nissen S."Creatine and beta-hydroxy-beta-methylbutyrate (HMB) additively increase lean bodymass and muscle strength during a weight-training program". Nutrition. 2001Jul-Aug;17(7-8):558-66. PubMed PMID: 11448573.
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