Increase your power and muscle tone
Muscle mass, or lean mass, is important if you want to get strong, toned and healthy. Muscle mass makes you structurally sound, keep your metabolic rate ramped up and will give you that sought-after lean, athletic look. Don’t worry, we’re not talking body-builder proportions, but just enough, in the right places, to allow you to look good and go faster for longer. Here’s how to have stronger muscles.
1. Increase the volume
Simply lifting heavy weights is not the key to building muscle. It’s the total volume, or tension, that you expose your muscles to that’s actually the key. You should do more reps and more sets if you want to build muscle, while using weights that challenge you. Try combining some lower reps of heavy weights with more reps using lighter weights, such as two sets of four to six reps, followed by three sets of 12-15 reps.
2. Increase the frequency
If you want to increase your muscle mass, you have to hit the gym regularly. Three sets of 10 reps once a week just won’t cut it, especially if you’re not a fitness newbie. Instead, pick up those weights three, maybe four, times a week, depending on your individual requirements and responsiveness to training. Make sure you build in enough recovery time though.
3. Get your nutrition right
How you fuel your body and the nutrients that you give it to repair are vital when it comes to building muscle. The key is to eat enough calories to allow the body to recover and muscles to repair, but not too many, or your body fat will increase. Calorie requirements will vary, but a good starting point might be 20 per cent above your basal metabolic rate (BMR), which can be calculated loosely by adding a zero to your weight in pounds. So, if you weigh 120lbs, your BMR is roughly 1,200 and your calorie intake should be around 1,440.
4. Go easy on the cardio
Cardiovascular training has a place in every programme, but if you do too much, it can actually be detrimental to your muscle tone and gym performance, especially if your nutrition and other recovery approaches aren’t perfect. Try sticking to two short, intense, interval sessions each week, and if you also do regular walks, that should be enough cardio for you.
5. Maximise recovery
Perhaps more important than what you do in the gym is what you do outside the gym, after your workout. Nutrition, sleep, hydration and relaxation all play a big part in helping you get the most from your workouts. Sleep is the big one and improving it will make a significant difference. Aim for seven to nine hours per night.