One of the most frequently asked questions in the fitness world today is how to build the most muscle in the least amount of time. This question has singlehandedly been the catalyst for the creation of countless new exercises, exercise equipment, diets, and nutritional supplements all attempting to speed up results. Through this article I will cover three components to building muscle and attempt to remove some confusion on this controversial subject.
Possibly the biggest hurdle to gaining muscle lies solely in having an adequate diet to support the growth. Often we believe the word “diet” is synonymous with the practice of reducing calories. Although this type of thinking can be appropriate when trying to lose weight, it will have an adverse effect while attempting to build muscle. Even when our body is at rest it is still working like a car engine and requires fuel even if idling. The amount of calories burned in 24 hours (not including exercise) will vary person to person but will generally be around 1200-1500 calories. Adding an hour of intense exercise can bump this number up another 600-800 calories. Research has shown that up to 36 hour after resistance training your metabolism can be elevated also adding to the total number of calories burned. On top of that, each pound of muscle requires 30-35 calories a day just to simply maintain itself, so any new muscle built can have a large affect on the amount of calories needed in your diet. When we take all of these factors into consideration we can see just how easy it is to “starve” our bodies when trying to build muscle. For an accurate measurement of your personal caloric needs, it is recommended that you take Resting Metabolic Rate (RMR) test.
Another obstacle to gaining muscle is having an appropriate program to follow. This means that not only is the program appropriate for challenging your current level of fitness, but also provides a clear progression in order to avoid the dreaded “plateau”. Research has shown that in order to build muscle, that muscle must be challenged to the point of failure at least 2 times per week with no more than 3 days rest in between. However, this does not necessarily mean that more is better. Training a muscle group 4-5 times per week will likely offer no additional muscle growth and can actually be harmful to your body. It is important to remember that your body needs rest otherwise it can easily slip into what is known as “overtraining”. Overtraining the body can hinder results and ultimately lead to greater fatigue and poor performance. Muscle growth happens not during the exercise but rather the days following, rest can be just as important as the workouts.
Lastly, and arguably the hardest factor to come to terms with, is patience. The fitness industry has been littered with ineffective products all promising the same miracle results using tag lines such as “Gain 18 lbs of muscle in two weeks!” or “Increase your bench press by 100lbs in 30 days!”. It is easy to get discouraged when infomercials and fitness magazines promote these ridiculous myths. Even when dialing in all other factors involving muscle growth, ultimately it is our dedication and commitment to a lifestyle change that has the most dramatic effect on results. Remember, “Nothing worthwhile ever came easy”.