I was always fascinated by body building. I began weight training at the age of 16 and since then building muscles and weight lifting has become a passion. But, just lifting weights to achieve a fit body was not the solution. I realized that anything to do with fitness requires dedication and hard work, coupled with smart eating and proper rest which ultimate helped me achieve the results that I was seeking.
You must be wondering how I managed to achieve what I was seeking. Well, the idea was germinated in my mind after I happen to watch to watch a movie ‘Pumping Iron’ starring Arnold Schwarzenegger my idol in body building. Arnold is perhaps the greatest bodybuilder of all time. It was his personality and muscles that I admired and got kicked about lifting weights. It’s funny; I am half as tall as him but, yet wanted to have a body like him. I set out on the path of building muscles. And within a short period of time, I learned the techniques and secrets of muscle building.
For many of us, gaining muscle would mean spending countless hours in the gym and we seldom think a good diet is important. Remember our body needs calories and nourishment to feed growing muscle mass and to adjust to varying amounts of activity.
I am going to tell you about building muscles through a three tier process namely proper diet, good exercise and good rest. Each of these tiers is equal and important. Let us take a closer look at each of these processes.
Diet: To build muscles you need a proper diet that consists of micro and macro nutrients. The micro nutrients are the vitamins and minerals and the macro nutrients are a combination of protein, carbs and fat. Eating each of these micro and macro nutrients in the right quantity is important to build proper muscle mass.
Just pumping iron or what we call lifting heavy weights in the gym does not serve the purpose. One needs to create a proper balance between the two.
(1) Protein: One needs to eat sufficient amounts of protein to build good muscle. The rule of the thumb is that an average person needs one gram of protein per kg of his body weight to maintain his muscle mass, skin and hair maintenance. But, an individual who is exercising needs almost 1.5 to 2 grams of protein per kg of his body weight to build muscles. For example if you are 150 lbs(pounds) or 68 kgs, you should eat between 150 and 225 gms of protein each day if you want to consistently gain muscles. Proteins are found in eggs, meat, fish, and cheese, milk and soya beans. Muscles are active tissue unlike fats. Like every active thing, muscles also need proper maintenance. In order to maintain the muscles the body needs to burn calories and that’s one reason why our basal metabolic rate (BMR) goes up. More, the muscle mass in the body, more the BMR level. Increase in BMR level avoids gaining fats in the body and is very helpful for fat loss as well.
(2) Carbs: including carbohydrates in your diet in the morning and post workout is essential. The primary function of carbs is to provide energy. Carbs intake should be monitored very closely. One gram of carbs gives 4 calories. The amount of carbs that get utilised as energy and the extra carbs that are still present gets stored as fat. So in order to avoid carbs getting stored as fat we need to limit the intake of carbohydrates. Carbs can be got from Sugar that provides the energy required for your daily activities. Sugar may be available in three forms, lactose, fructose, and sucrose obtained from milk, table sugar, and fruits respectively. Carbs from Sugar Starch which can be found in rice, beans, peas, and other grains. And lastly, carbs from fibers. Fibrous foods helps in quick digestion of food and can found in some green vegetables, whole grains, peas and dry beans, bran, soya beans etc. Fiber is also good to remove waste from your body.
(3) Fats.:- Most people are of the opinion that fat is our enemy although it gives 9 calories per gram. That’s much compared to carbs and proteins and the function of fats is to give energy during an emergency such as when the glucose level of the body dips to a low and there is no source of energy (Adenosine Tri Phosphate) and there is no food available in the body, the body uses the stored fat as the source of energy for that period of time. Fats can be got from Olive, peanuts, sunflower, fish, nuts, flaxseed and pumpkin seeds, soy products such as tofu or soy milk. Fats build healthy cells. Without a healthy cell membrane, the rest of the cell cannot function. Fats help the body use vitamins. Vitamins A, D, E, and K are fat-soluble vitamins, meaning that the fat in foods helps the intestines absorb these vitamins into the body. Therefore the diets should contain carbs, proteins and fats. Vitamins can be got from the inclusion of green vegetables such as spinach and broccoli.
(4) Water is the other important nutrient that is important for our body. One who is exercising should always hydrate himself or herself well. Water provides cushioning and lubrication between joints. Pain problems around joints are a very common problem amongst bodybuilders and strength athletes. Maintaining hydration and joint health is a very important part of your training over the long haul.
Exercise: The second tier of building good muscles is through proper exercise: Without exercise it will be impossible to build huge muscles. When we exercise there is a wear and tear process that take place within the body and the immediate reaction of the body is to repair the muscles. The greater and deeper the damage to the muscle, the bigger and stronger the muscle will be repaired. It is therefore important to schedule the exercise program in order to achieve great results. Weight training should be done 3-4 days a week and this should be coupled with cardio exercise on the balance days of the week when you are not weight training. While, with weight training, you will be able to build the muscles and get stronger, with cardio you will be strengthening your lungs and heart and it will help increase your stamina.
Rest and Recovery: This is the last and the final tier of building muscles. This, aspect is the most neglected tier of the three. You train hard in the gym, nourish your body with proper nutrients in the kitchen but, if you do not give enough time for your body to recover through proper rest then the body will not utilize the nutrients in the proper manner to be able to build the muscles. After a hard day’s work when you finally go to sleep, that’s when the damaged and tired muscles get repaired. One needs to sleep for at least 7-8 hours for good results.
Muscle can only get stronger and bigger by stimulating it through hard exercise, helping it to recover with high performance nutrition and giving it rest.
Disclaimer: Before making sudden changes in your lifestyle, you may want to consult your doctor and trainer