Building muscle is more than just a matter of hitting the gym three times a week and downing a protein shake. Muscle growth takes a coordinated effort of nutrition, training, rest/recovery and last but not least, consistency. When all of these elements work together, you are on your way to developing and crafting a fit, healthy physique that is exceptional and towers above the rest.
1. Food. You must eat to grow, period! No food, no growth— unless you are a genetic monster. Each macronutrient (the body needs a large amount of macronutrients to function, hence the word macro) plays a specific role in your muscle tissue development.
Protein is used by the body to build and repair tissues, and is the building block of muscle. Protein also helps prevent the breakdown of muscle. Only protein can build muscle. When incorporated with a high-intensity workout, protein builds extra lean muscle tissue
Carbohydrates are used to provide energy to your muscles. Carbohydrates are stored in your muscles and the liver. When you work out, your body converts these stored carbohydrates into ATP and uses it as energy. If your goal is to gain mass, you need an adequate amount of carbohydrates to blast through your intense workouts. Carbohydrates also help keep your muscles full and hydrated. They increase insulin level, which increases other growth-promoting hormones and enzymes needed to further muscular development.
Healthy dietary fats play a big role in hormone production responsible for growth and strength increases, like testosterone production. Examples of healthy fats are MCT oils, flaxseed oils, omega 3-6-9 oils, fish oils and CLA, among a few others. Healthy fats help spare protein from being used as an energy source. Protein is then used primarily for building and repairing muscle tissue. Here is one thing many people don’t know— good fats help reduce water retention by assisting in sodium and water removal.
2. Train to Failure. Leave nothing in the gym. The last set of each exercise should be to absolute failure. The first few sets are only warm-ups for that working set. Do not fatigue your muscles before the actual working set. The stronger you are, the more warm-ups you need. For example, if you have a 500-pound squat, warm up with 135, 225, 315, 405, maybe 455 for a few reps and then 500 for 10 to 12. If you get 12, then next week try 525. If you don’t get 12, then repeat 500 until you get 12 reps.
3. Consume Intra-workout Drinks. Mix 10 to 15 grams of amino acids (essential and branched-chain) and use 25 to 50 grams of cyclic dextrin. This will fight muscle breakdown and help create an anabolic, muscle-building effect while training. Blood transports nutrients. When you are training, your blood flow is at its highest (especially to the specific body part you are training). The amino acids and carbs from this drink will allow you to take advantage of this very important time by feeding your muscles the amino acids they need to grow, and also by replenishing your glycogen levels for extended energy and strength.
4. Rest. You need to rest in order to grow. When you rest, you increase your body’s anabolism and allow it to restore glycogen. Resting is the most overlooked muscle-building factor. Resting also helps reduce cortisol (a stress hormone produced by the adrenal glands that could lead to catabolism). More is not better when it comes to increasing muscle. If it were only that easy, we would all live in the gym 24/7 and be Mr. Olympia. Intense training with adequate rest leads to optimal muscle growth.
5. Consistency. Here’s where most people fail. It may sound simple, but inconsistency brings regress, not progress. When you miss a meal, a workout, half-ass a set or don’t give it 100 percent, you are actually taking a step back. We all have our own genetic barrier. The longer we train, it gets tougher and tougher to reach it. When you first start training, you grow like a weed. After some time, your gains start to taper off. If your goal is to compete, you have to be consistent and maintain focus. Consistency in eating, training and resting will help you reach your goals.
Here’s a good quote: “Every time you stay out late; every time you sleep in; every time you miss a workout or meal; every time you don’t give 100 percent— you make it that much easier for your opponent to beat you. You can have results or you can have your excuses. You cannot have both.”
Individual macronutrient requirements are different for each person. Contact Fakhri Mubarak for a customized nutrition and exercise plan that is right for you.