How to Build Muscle : Maxener Wellness

There is more to building muscle than lifting a bunch of weights. You have to focus on your diet as well.

Part 1 Diet

Increase your caloric consumption. For example, if you are currently consuming 2,000 calories a day, boost that to about 2,500 calories or even more. But make sure that you’re eating clean, and are not eating too much.

Get enough protein to support muscle growth. Aim for between 1-1.8 grams of protein per kilogram of bodyweight. For example, if you weigh 180lb, take in at least 81-146g of protein every day.

  • One ounce (28 grams) of cooked meat contains roughly 7 grams of protein. You could meet an 80 gram daily goal with two 6-oz. steaks, assuming no other protein sources.

Drink enough water. The body needs a sufficient amount of water to build muscle at an optimal rate. Here’s a great little formula to help make sure you are getting enough:

  • Imperial units: Bodyweight in lbs X 0.6 = water intake in ounces.
  • The same formula in metric units: Bodyweight in kg x 40 = water intake in milliliters.
  • This includes all water from food and drink, not just glasses of water.
  • If you are over 30, you can lower these numbers to lbs x 0.46 to 0.54, or kg x 30 to 35.

Eat regularly. Rather than having two or three large meals during the day—something we’ve grown up with—change your eating habits so that you are eating five or six smaller meals during the day.

  • To help keep your protein intake high, one or two of those meals can be a protein shake. Here’s one example, though a quick Internet search will uncover hundreds of delicious protein shakes:
  • 8oz skimmed milk
  • 1 banana
  • 1 tbsp peanut butter
  • 2 scoops of protein powder

Eat healthy fats. That’s right—not only does it make food taste good, fat is good for you, as long as you are eating the right kinds and amounts of fat! Saturated fats—the fat you’ll find in a stick of butter, a bag of chips, or bacon—should be limited to about 20g or less. That’s the bad news. The good news is that unsaturated fats are actually beneficial, even necessary. Fat is necessary for the proper distribution of vitamins A, D, E, and K, helps promote better eyesight, and healthy skin. Depending on your total caloric intake, 50-70g of monounsaturated or polyunsaturated fat is beneficial for your training, and your overall general health.

  • Monounsaturated fats can be found in olive, canola, and sesame oils; avocado; and nuts such as almonds, cashews, peanuts, and pistachios.
  • Polyunsaturated fats are found in corn, cottonseed, and safflower oils; sunflower seeds and oils; flaxseed and flaxseed oil; soybeans and soybean oil.
  • Omega-3 fats, an overall winner of a fat that is very beneficial to heart and blood health, eyesight, and for children, brain development. You’ll find this fat in many omega-3-enriched foods. Another great source is fatty cold-water fish such as salmon, tuna, trout, and sardines.
  • A good way to determine how much fat in grams you should be taking in is to multiply your calorie intake by 0.001 for maximum trans-fats; by 0.008 for maximum saturated fats; and by 0.03 for the “good fats”. For example, for a 2,500-calorie diet, you would limit trans-fats to 3g or less, saturated fats to 20g or less, and up to 75g of mono- and polyunsaturated fats.

Take your vitamins. In addition to a well-balanced diet, include a multivitamin supplement to your dietary regimen. It will ensure that your body is getting the full amount of vitamins and minerals it needs to stay healthy. There are many options, depending on your age, your sex, and your particular health and diet needs. Find the one that’s right for you, and make it part of your daily routine.

Part 2 Exercise Guidelines

Build an effective exercise routine. A good diet is required for your body to be able to maximize your potential, but there’s no potential at all until you start the process of tearing down your old muscles and rebuilding them bigger, bulkier, and stronger. The best way to do that is to start at the beginning.

Warm up. Before you begin any exercise routine, whether it is a simple jog or a 300lb deadlift, start with a low-intensity routine designed to warm up all the muscles you’re about to work on. Not only will it help you get into the right frame of mind, it can help prevent injuries.

  • You should never stretch a cold muscle. Research has shown that pre-workout stretching, contrary to public opinion, does not prevent injury and may, in fact, result in poorer performance. Stretching is best done following a workout.

Work harder, but shorter. Training with high reps is good for building endurance, but it won’t help you build up either size or strength. Instead, aim for about 3-8 sets per muscle group, and 6-12 reps per set for your normal routine. Your final rep should be very hard to complete! If it’s not, increase the weight you’re lifting.

  • Limit your overall training to about 45 minutes a day.
  • Every 4-8 weeks, vary your routine. As your body adapts to stress, you’ll hit a plateau where the benefits of weight training will begin to diminish. The only way to prevent this from happening is to change things up, such as by increasing weight and changing exercises. Try a week of really piling the weights on, and do six to eight reps per set at the maximum weight you can manage with proper form. The more lifting experience you have, the more often you should vary your routine.

Work your whole body. You’ll see the maximum benefit when your entire body is part of the routine. The more muscles you use when training, the more hormones you will produce (including epinephrine and norepinephrine), which in turn stimulates muscle growth both while you exercise and for the entire day.

  • Give all muscle groups equal attention, such as five sets of rows after five sets of bench presses. This will encourage balanced training, growth, and flexibility.
  • Compound exercises such as squats, deadlifts, presses, rows, and pull-ups use a lot of different muscles.
  • You can work the entire body in each session, or divide your sessions between, for example, the upper body one day, and the lower body the next.
  • Don’t rush. Advanced lifters often base their routines around a technique called explosive repetition. In other words, they lift a tremendous amount of weight in a short (explosive) amount of time. There are significant benefits to this method, but the risk of injury in novice athletes is high. It is recommended solely for more advanced athletes.

Include cardio training. Good cardiovascular health improves blood flow, a requirement for muscle growth. The standard recommendation is 150 minutes of moderate cardio each week, or 75 minutes of vigorous cardio, or an equivalent combination of the two. Examples of cardio include running, biking, swimming, and any sport that involves constant movement.

  • Cardio burns calories quickly, so overdoing it can limit the energy available to build your muscles. If you increase the amount of cardio exercise you do, be sure to increase your calories intake as well.

Get your rest. Your body needs time to recover, and to repair (build) your muscles, and to do that you will need at least 7 or 8 hours of sleep a night. Avoid caffeine and alcohol for deeper sleep.

  • In addition to the proper amount of sleep, do not overdo your training regimen. While you might be tempted to think that “more is better,” in fact the opposite is true. You can reach a point known as “over-training”, in which you’ll lose the ability to “pump”, (engorge the muscles with oxygen-rich blood), and can even lead to muscle wasting—exactly the opposite of what you are trying to achieve. Here are some symptoms to be aware of if you think you may be falling into the over-training zone:
    • Chronic fatigue
    • Strength loss
    • Loss of appetite
    • Insomnia
    • Depression
    • Lowered sex drive
    • Chronic soreness
    • Prone to injury

Schedule your workouts. To avoid over-training, set up a schedule that works for you and your goals. Here is an example of a split routine that gives you plenty of time to break down your muscles, and plenty of time off to let them recover, even larger than before:

  • Day 1: Chest and biceps, followed by 30 minutes of high-intensity cardio.
  • Day 2: Back and triceps, followed by 30 minutes of moderate intensity cardio.
  • Day 3: Legs and abs, followed by 30 minutes of high-intensity cardio.
  • Day 4: Shoulders
  • Day 5 – Day 7, rest.

Lower your stress levels. Whether your stress comes from job, home, or just the way you’re wired, do what you can to reduce or eliminate it. It’s not just good for you in general, but stress increases the production of the hormone cortisol, a hormone that encourages your body to store fat and burn muscle tissue.

Practice explosive lifts. “Exploding” upward while lifting trains your muscles for quick, explosive strength. However, this increases the risk of injury if you do not use the correct technique. If you want to add these to your squats or other range of motion exercises, practice first with a lighter weight and a low-intensity set up:

  • Work up to the explosive part of the move gradually by starting with a smaller range of motion, and increase it with time and practice.
  • Move slowly on the eccentric (the lowering phase). This is the part of motion which causes the most tearing, so don’t try to “explode” downward.
  • “Load the muscle” at the low point of the exercise. This means holding the muscle contraction before beginning the movement.
  • Explode upward quickly, but avoid full extension at the peak range of motion. For example, knees should stay slightly bent for leg exercises, and elbows slightly bent for upper body exercises.

Part 3 Specific Muscle Exercises

Build your back muscles. These exercise build the major muscles of your back, including the latissimus dorsi, rhomboids, and teres major:

  • Perform bent over rows. Stand with your feet shoulder-width apart, about 6 to 10 inches (15–25 cm) behind the barbell or two dumbbells. Bend slightly at the knees but keep your shins vertical. Bend forward at the waist with your spine and head straight. Lift the weight with an overhand grip up to your lower chest or upper abdomen. Lower slowly until your arms are nearly extended, without touching the ground. 3 x 8.
  • Do pull-ups to build your lats. Jump onto or grab hold of a horizontal bar that is comfortably taller than you. Lift your legs back so that you are hanging from the bar. With your hands shoulder-width apart, and your palms facing toward you, lift your chin up to the bar using only your arms. 3 x 8.

Target your pecs with chest exercises. The bench-press is the most dependable way to gain chest muscle, although there are lots of different exercises for the chest.

  • Do push-ups. Combine push-ups with other chest exercises, or do them independently. Keep your arms at shoulder-width when you lower yourself down. The closer your hands are to one another, the more you’ll work your triceps.
  • For the bench-press, start with a weight that you can lift comfortably. If you are a beginner, try lifting the bar along with 5lbs or 10lbs on each side. With arms at shoulder-width apart, grab onto the bar and slowly lower the bar until it’s at nipple level; push up until your arms are fully extended upwards. Do 8–10 repetitions (reps) like this for three sets (3 x 8), adding additional weight each set. Once you have a few months of practice, slowly increase weight and go down to 6–8 reps per set, aiming to reach muscle failure at the end of the third set.
  • Lift weights on the incline bench press. The incline is like the bench press, but one end of the bench is tilted about 40 degrees. Do 3 x 8. It will be harder to lift the bar on an incline, so start out with less weight than you would on the flat bench-press.

Work your leg muscles. Here are four different exercises to build and strengthen your leg muscles. Choose a selection that works your quadriceps, glutes, and hamstrings:

  • Do deadlifts to work the back of the thigh, the glutes and calves. Lift a barbell or two dumbbells from the ground to a standing position, then lowering the weight steadily down again. Keep your back straight and leave your arms extended, engaging your legs and back instead.
  • Do standard squats with a weighted bar. Place enough weight on a bar and rack so that it’s a little lower than shoulder height. It should be heavy enough that doing a squat is difficult, but not impossible. If you’re a beginner, this may mean using a bar without any weight to start with. Duck under the bar and stand up so that the bar rests comfortably on your trapezius muscles, just below the neck. Keep your knees slightly bent and your legs slightly wider than shoulder width. Lift the bar up off the rack and move backwards one step.
    • Slowly bring the weight down by bending your knees. Keep your chest, knees, and feet aligned vertically, with your hips back.
    • Arch your back slightly but keep your torso as erect as possible, with your head in line with the spine.
    • Bring your butt down, keeping the tension on the leg muscles. A 90 degree bend at the knees is the safest option. With experience and practice some people can safely lower past the 90 degree bend, but it is not required for perfect form.
    • Exhale deeply and use your legs and hips, not your back, to lift out of the squat. 3 x 8.
  • Do front squats with a weighted bar. Rack a weighted bar at just-below shoulder-level. Come up to the bar from the front, positioning the bar on the front shoulders. Cross your arms over onto the bar and walk it out. Keeping your back straight, bend your legs into a squat, with your hips under the bar. Lift and repeat 3 x 8.
  • Do Belgian squats (or “single leg squats”) with a dumbbell. Hold out in front of your chest a dumbbell using both hands. Standing in front of a bench, lift your right leg back so that it’s parallel to the floor and resting comfortably on the bench. Bend into a squat using the left leg, so that the right knee almost hits the floor. Lift and repeat 3 x 8. Repeat using opposite leg.

Target your biceps with arm exercises. Dumbbell arm curls are one of the most effective way to improve strength in your biceps. As with all exercises, build muscle by steadily increasing the weight you lift.

  • Do individual arm curls with dumbbells. Sit down on a bench and grab onto a dumbbell on the ground, with your hand in between your thighs. With your elbow resting on your thigh, lift the dumbbell all the way to the upper chest by curling your arm upward. Switch to the opposite hand and repeat. 3 x 8.
  • Do arm curls on a weighted bar. Standing up, grab hold of a weighted bar with both hands. Let the arms extend all the way down to the thighs. Using only your arms, lift the weight up to your chest by curling your arms upward. 3 x 8.

Target your triceps with arm exercises. Dips are probably the most effective way to work your triceps, which is the muscle beneath your biceps. You’ll need to have strong triceps to bench-press large amounts of weight.

  • To do dips, place your hands at shoulder-width apart on a bench, with your body and feet stretched out in front of the bench. Slowly bend your elbows and lower your body down so that your butt nearly touches the floor. Lift back up with your arms to starting position; repeat, doing 3 x 8. If this isn’t a high-intensity set for you, increase the resistance by lifting one foot off the floor.
  • Alternately, you can do a chest dip on a dip machine, grabbing hold of two beams, bending your feet back off the ground, and lowering your body until your knees nearly touch the ground. Lift back up with your arms until they are straight.
  • Do skull crushers. Lay down flat on a bench with a bar. Bend your elbows so that the bar is about a couple inches from your forehead. Slowly push the bar up until your arms are fully extended before bringing the weight back down. Keep your elbows close together. Repeat 3 x 8.

Do an overhead press to build your shoulders. Hold a barbell or two dumbbells at chest or shoulder height, with your palms facing forward. Lift the weight above your head until your arms are fully extended, with a slight bend in the elbow to prevent hyperextension. 3 x 8.

  • Variations include changes to the hand and palm position, lifting the dumbbells until they touch overhead, or lifting into a wide “Y” shape with your arms.

arget abdominal muscles with crunches and core exercises. Your abs define the muscles on your stomach, giving you that chiseled 6-pack look. There are a variety of exercises that work out your abdominals. Here are a couple.

  • Do standard/oblique crunches. Lie down on a mat and position both arms behind your head without locking the hands. Bend your knees so that your feet are flat on the ground. Pushing the small of your back into the ground, slowly roll your shoulders off the ground only a couple of inches (not to a full sitting position). Don’t use your momentum to help you up; use slow, regulated movements. Repeat 3 x 20.
    • For oblique crunches, angle your torso so one shoulder reaches toward the opposite knee. Alternate sides after each crunch.
  • Do planks to work the abs and the core. Lie face-down on the floor. Lift yourself up so that your body is still parallel to the floor, with your forearms (flat on the floor) and your toes supporting your weight. Keep your body straight and hold your position for as long as possible.

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