24 Mar No B.S. Muscle Building Tactics (Part II)
In the first article, I discussed why it’s critical for everyone, no matter what you’re goals are, to build some degree of lean muscle mass.
For the complete rationale on why this is, please go back to the first article.
In the second article, I provided 5 specific tactics that you can implement right away to build muscle. No B.S., just things that work.
In this third article, I’d like to give you more tactics that will help get you results.
Remember, it seems like muscle building is a bit of mystery for some of us, right?
I mean, there’s a bit more to it than just lifting weights.
So, with that, let’s dive into more tactics you can use.
TACTIC #6) EAT A LOT. EAT A LOT OF QUALITY FOODS.
Muscle building requires you to eat a lot of food, there’s no question about it.
What I recommend is tracking what you eat. Use of food journal and keep track of protein, carbs, fats, and calories.
A food journal is one of the single best things you can do, no matter if you’re goals are fat loss, muscle building, or improving your energy and performance.
You can get a composition book at Staples for 99 cents or go “high tech” and use an online journaling system like MyFitnessPal.com (which is not just a weight loss journal site, as promoted).
This is a cool tool for easy and accurate tracking of what you eat.
Again, this is one of the most valuable things you can do for eating well. If you’re serious about your results, please take action on this.
Is it all about calories?
While calories are important in gaining or losing weight, they aren’t the only thing that’s important.
Food quality and macro nutrient portions are also critical for mass building. I’ll discuss this more in a minute.
How many calories should you eat?
A good rule I recently heard was to eat 16 times your body weight in calories.
For example, if you weigh 200, you should be eating around 3,200 calories per day.
Now, to gain muscle the rule is to eat an additional 300-500 calories per day or approximately 2100-3500 extra calories per week.
If the outcomes are not what you want, what do you do?
Adjust your calories, simple as that. Up or down, as appropriate.
The key, of course, is to make sure those calories are quality calories and not just crappy food.
You want to make sure you eat quality whole foods.
This is KEY.
Whole foods are not ‘packaged foods.’ They are not highly processed foods.
Packaged foods are processed foods, so try to avoid or minimize as much as you can.
The type of staple whole foods I’m talking about are things like:
- Organic eggs
- Seafood (Wild caught)
- Organic, grass fed beef
- Organic, free range chicken
- Sweet Potatoes & Yams
- Wild rice, in moderation
- Fruits, moderate intake in high glycemic index fruits
- Vegetables (Brocholi, spinach, kale, peppers, romaine, etc.)
- Nuts + Seeds (Raw, unsalted)
- Healthy Fats & Oils (Avacodo, Olive Oil, Coconut Oil)
- Nut butters (Almond)
- Flax seed
- Coconut Milk/Almond Milk
Eating a lot the right foods will make a HUGE difference for your muscle building process.
Remember not just quantity, but quality.
For a great short read on whole foods, check out Food Rules by Michael Pollan. (This book is not about building muscle, but has everything to do with quality eating.)
TACTIC #7) CONSUME ADEQUATE AMOUNTS OF QUALITY PROTEIN.
This is a big topic and sometimes controversial.
Protein consumption has been debated for years and probably will continue to be for many more.
More basic rules here, but to build muscle the rule is you should consume one gram of protein per pound of bodyweight per day.
This is a good rule to follow for muscle growth.
As we know, muscle growth and tissue repair requires protein.
Protein is the building block for growth, so to grow, you’ve got to consume protein. Agreed?
Protein won’t make you fat, but there has been potential “health” concerns with eating too much.
For normal, healthy individuals, I have not seen any data to suggest that protein consumption is bad.
If you know of any data, please let me know. I’d be interested to read what it has to say.
Again, it really comes down to quality protein.
So, what do I mean my that?
Quality proteins are proteins that have not been processed or chemically treated.
Quality proteins are also the lean, healthy food suggestions I mention above.
For more on why organic, free range meats are recommended, see the previous article on Eating Organic.
Also, I do usually recommend supplementing with a (quality) protein shake.
Because so many proteins are highly processed, my current recommendations are ‘cleaner’ type of proteins.
Although whey protein is still the king, there are many other great proteins that are highly effective, may have improved gastrointestinal tolerability, and better overall for your health.
A great vegan protein supplement is by SunWarrior.com. I’ve become a big fan of the SunWarrior products for their clean, organic, effective, high quality products.
And, they taste great too.
Most people can have a tough time meeting their protein requirements.
For this reason, protein supplementation is usually a great way to make sure you get the protein you need to build lean muscle.
TACTIC #8) UTILIZE NUTRIENT TIMING.
I’m surprised how frequently this is missed in workout programs.
Nutrient timing is another HUGE topic that I’ll just touch on here and give you a key tactic to make sure you use.
If you want to get the most out of your workouts, you must make sure you eat to optimize performance, body composition, and your recovery.
If you don’t do this, you’re wasting your time.
Nutrient timing (NT) is much more that getting in your post-workout carb/protein (C/P), although that’s a critical component.
After you finish your workout, you have 30-45 minutes where your body responds very favorably to macronutrients (carbs and protein).
This 30-45 minute time period following your workout is known as the “metabolic window.”
You body will respond very well to the right nutrients at the right time. That is the essence of (NT).
Why is this so important?
Here’s a list of some of the benefits:
- replenish glycogen stores faster after training
- increase protein synthesis
- enhance immune function (so you don’t get sick)
- speed recovery and tissue repair
- improve muscle mass
- and may enhance fat oxidation
(NT) is very powerful for these reasons and many more.
How do you best optimize the metabolic window?
Within 30 to 45 minutes post exercise make sure that you consume a carbohydrate protein combination with a ratio of 4:1 or 3:1, carb to protein.
This is especially important if you are training at a high intensity.
Most protein shakes can accommodate these requirements by adding fruits or other carbs to your protein shake.
A shake is usually the best option post workout, since most people don’t want to eat right after an intense exercise session.
By the way, the reason for the combination of (C/P) is that this combination has been shown to be MORE effective than either a carb or a protein alone.
As I mentioned, NT is a very big topic to cover and is beyond the scope of this article.
I’ll be covering this topic in much greater detail in the future.
For right now, make sure you take advantage of your “metabolic window” after a hard training session and get some source of (C/P) combination post workout.
TACTIC #9) HYDRATE.
Drink lots of water, period.
Here’s a point where I differ with the Paleo/Primal approach.
Your body needs water and lots of it.
I recently heard a crazy statistic that approximately 70% of Americans were chronically dehydrated. Not just dehydrated, but chronically dehydrated.
We require water for optimal function. If we are dehydrated, we don’t function at our best.
Did you know the body recognizes thirst less as we get older?
And, a dry mouth is actually the last sign of dehydration.
How much water should you drink?
According to Dr. F. Batmanghelidj, author of Your Body’s Many Cries for Water, your goal should be to drink half your bodyweight in ounces per day.
So if you weigh 200 pounds you should have 100 ounces of water per day.
There are numerous health benefits for this and this will keep you hydrated, help to flush your system, and help your body to transport and store nutrients more efficiently.
Coffee, tea, soda are not water and don’t count as such.
Caffeinated beverage, in particular, are diuretic and excrete fluid from your tissue.
Hydrate with lots of water for optimal health, performance, and muscle building.
TACTIC #10) AVOID OVERTRAINING.
The final muscle building tactic I’ll discuss may be the hardest one of all.
If you are into training, the hardest thing to do sometimes is take time off and get the rest you need.
I admit, I’m guilty of this myself.
Overtraining is typically caused by extreme levels of training frequency, volume, or intensity.
Or a combination of all of these.
How will you know when you are overtraining?
There’s a few key things to look out for such as a decrease desire to train, decrease in performance, increased fatigue and feelings of “burnout,” and even the potential for injury.
What do you do about it once you recognize it?
Take some time off, scale it back, and cycle your training. Again, take some time off, it’s not a bad thing to do every once in a while.
The key with this is really being “in tune” with your body.
Learn to respond to your body. If you learn about your body, you will be able to determine when you’re overdoing it.
Get your sleep, rest and recover, and feed your body with the nutrients it needs to build and to grow.
Overtraining can be a big set back for you. Recognize the signs and learn to put things in low gear when you need to.
If you hit a plateau with your muscle building program, consider a “rest and recover” approach before taking things to the next stage.
Well, that’s it folks, it’s a wrap.
There’s 10 tactics to help you build lean muscle.
In summary, here are all 10 Muscle Building tactic in this article series:
- GET STRONG WITH PROGRESSIVE OVERLOAD
- USE COMPOUND MOVEMENTS
- TRAIN “OLD SCHOOL”
- TRAIN SHORT, BUT INTENSE
- KEEP REPS LOW WITH HEAVY WEIGHT
- EAT A LOT
- CONSUME QUALITY PROTEIN
- USE NUTRIENT TIMING
- REST AND RECOVER
There you have it.
Comments or questions about how to build muscle are welcome.
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Thanks for reading.