These 5 Muscle-Building Tactics Will Help Beginners Pack on Muscle

·3-min read

Don’t let Instagram fool you. Going from zero to Arnie takes longer than a matter of days or weeks and requires more than a super strict diet – that lasts for a week – and a few long runs. No, lasting transformations take time and a little inside knowledge...

Strength and Size

Getting hench takes work, says Laura Hoggins, an award-winning PT, Fiit instructor and director at The Foundry Gym. ‘The process that builds muscle is known as hypertrophy; it’s the adaptation our muscles experience when faced with a “progressive overload”. ’When we’re consistently pushing our limits during resistance training, our guns repair and grow bigger to better handle our future efforts. ‘You can train with a variety of weights and rep ranges – you just need to be lifting close to failure.’

Compounds are King

‘Structure your sessions around big multi-joint movements – squats, pull-ups, deadlifts etc,’ says Hoggins. They’ll fire up your large muscle groups. ‘You don’t have to add weight every week; try increasing time under tension.’ Combine this with moves such as rows and curls, which target specific muscles. Start with the compounds – three to five sets of four to six reps – then finish with three to four sets of higher-rep isolation moves. Flexing in the mirror is optional.

All about the Cals

‘You’ve heard about achieving a calorie deficit for fat loss. Here, you need to feed the muscles to grow bigger,’ says Hoggins. When ‘bulking’, you need to eat more calories than you expend. ‘Expect some trial and error to find what works for you. Start with a surplus of 300 to 500 calories – enough to give the body extra nutrients for growth, but not so much that it’s stored as excess fat. A tricky balance to strike.’ Find your total daily energy expenditure using an online calculator, then take it from there.

Mind Your Macros

Adequate protein is essential. ‘Recent research suggests those training to gain muscle should eat around 1.6g per kg of body weight each day, from a variety of wholefood sources,’ says Hoggins. ‘Protein supplements can help if you struggle to hit your target.’ Refuel within two to three hours of your workout with protein and carbs. Consider creatine, too. ‘It can help muscles work harder for longer (useful for progressive overload) and encourages water retention in the muscles for a swole look.’

Gain While you Sleep

‘Surely one of the best things about training is knowing you can work hard in the gym – then recover harder at home,’ says Hoggins. And don’t underestimate the role of R&R. ‘Aim for a minimum of seven to eight hours’ sleep to maximise your overnight growth-hormone secretion. Athletes such as Ronaldo are big on taking naps, too. Struggling? Supplement with zinc and magnesium, and schedule exposure to fresh air in the morning.’ Having a healthy routine will ensure that you don’t miss the gains train.

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