7 tips what to eat to get bigger in muscle size
A ripped physique looks good on anyone and is nature’s way of showing off your strength and abilities. The 2 elements affecting your quest to increase in muscle size are your training and nutrition. I’ve put together these 7 easy tips to help you progress from newbie status and start seeing results.
Tip #1 Lift heavy
This is a no-brainer but worth mentioning. Lifting heavy causes your muscle fibers to break down. The muscles later repair to withstand the activity that caused their breakdown in the first place by growing in size, aka, hypertrophy [GROW]. It’s why a beginner can make progress with bodyweight moves initially. After a while though, it becomes tricky to push muscles to the point that they break down and get bigger.
Lift weights as heavy as you can with good form and control for the full range of motion. Conventional wisdom says to aim for 6 – 12 reps per set and 3 – 5 sets overall [REPS].
Tip 2# Keep your workouts simple
I know this is a problem area for people still in search of the “magic” workout that’s got the best combination of exercises and does it all. Don’t overthink it. Big muscle moves like squats, deadlifts, overhead presses, bench presses, rows, pull-ups, and dips are about all you need. Plus they make your workouts more efficient by targeting more than one muscle at a time.
What about a training timetable? It depends on your preference really, provided you train a muscle no more than 3 times a week. I follow a 4-day split. That is, to work my lower body on Monday, upper body on Tuesday, rest on Wednesday and Thursday, work my lower body on Friday, upper body on Saturday, rest on Sunday and do it all again the next week.
Tip #3 Track your progress
To get bigger, your goal during training is to push yourself beyond what you achieved the last workout, by lifting heavier. Every serious bodybuilder keeps records instead of making assumptions. You can note your weights, sets, and reps with a phone app or go old school with a notepad and pen. Your records help you face facts when you compare your efforts to your progress.
An added benefit of tracking your progress is it helps your mental game. When you know your numbers, it’s easier to celebrate successes and welcome challenges. Many lifters will admit that seeing progress is addictive.
Tip #4 Be disciplined
While lifting may be addictive, building muscle is slow, steady, hard work that requires your focus and discipline. The sheer amount of dedication to keep making strength and mass gains might seem obsessive to an uninformed onlooker. No 2 days are the same. Some days are bad at the office, your partner offends you, you are moody, or just feeling lazy.
To keep you going when things get tough, you could get a workout buddy or mentor, hire a coach, or join a weightlifting class. If you are more of a solo lifter, visualizing your success can do wonders for your motivation [MENTAL]. Music that fires you up and gets you raring to attack your workout is another idea.
Tip #5 Rest and recover
Tired muscles increase the risk of getting sprains and fractures as the support for bones, tendons, and ligaments is compromised. Recovery is essential to avoid putting your entire training on hold because of injury. You are also more energized and pumped up for your workout after resting. It’s recommended NOT to train the same muscle group on consecutive days and to aim for at least 2 training-free days per week [RECOV].
Also non-negotiable is adequate sleep as growth hormones for muscle repair are released while you get some shut-eye [SLEEP]. Aim for 8 hours or more. It seems muscle building will be the making of the man in you.
So far, we’ve looked at getting bigger muscles by training them, but what about the fuel? Here are the top foods to grow muscle mass.
Tip #6 Feast on protein
Like you learned at school, the amino acids in proteins build and repair muscles. Your daily requirement should be between 0.6 – 1.0 g of protein per pound of your body weight [PROT]. Different protein sources have their own advantages.
- Lean animal protein like beef, chicken, and fish provide the largest amounts of protein per 100 g serving that have all essential amino acids. It helps that they taste fantastic.
- Whey protein, apart from the clever advertising, is absorbed easily into the bloodstream. It’s also very convenient (requires no cooking).
- Eggs are cheap, contain many other nutrients and vitamins, and don’t affect your cholesterol levels as previously feared [CHOLES].
- Cottage cheese contains casein, a protein that digests slowly and is ideal for extended periods of time without food (e.g., before bed). It’s a source of bone-protecting calcium too.
Tip #7 Eat more calories
Your body needs lots of calories to fuel the process of building muscle. Aim for about 20 – 22 calories per pound of bodyweight [PROT]. So as you put on muscle, you’ll need to eat even more. I split my daily calories into 50 % carbs, 25 % protein, and 20 % fats [SPLIT].
- Carbohydrates are your source of energy and shouldn’t be demonized. Not eating enough of it will affect your performance during training.
- Fats are needed to produce the hormones that help muscle growth. Polyunsaturated and monounsaturated fats found in fish, nuts, seeds, and avocados should be a priority.
As enjoyable as eating is for most people, it gets hard after a while to consume all that you need to keep seeing progress. Split your calories into 6 meals about 3 hours apart.
Finally, as I already mentioned, building muscle does not happen overnight. Show up, do the work, enjoy the journey and watch those muscles grow.