When we embark on a program of better health and a better body, one of the key elements is “muscle”. Muscle shaping, muscle growing, muscle strengthening. To greater and lesser degrees this is central to most workout plans. And it makes total sense, after all, it is muscle conditioning that allows us to function well day-to-day and it is what gives us “shape”.
How to best address building muscle tissue
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When we train, we are basically trying to elicit certain adaptive responses. These responses are the result of applying certain triggers to the body.
One adaptive response is known as “hypertrophy” (the opposite of “atrophy”). This is the building of muscle tissue/muscle fibres.
When you plan a workout routine to build muscle , you are not necessarily doing different exercises, rather you are applying different factors to movements. These factors are in the form of the number of repetitions (reps) per set and the amount of weight/resistance used during those sets.
Now this may sound a bit counterintuitive, but the “hypertrophy” response is brought about by using “moderation”. That’s right….you don’t build muscle with extremely heavy vein popping weights and endless bashing away with rep after rep and set after set. Rather it is achieved by using a moderate amount of resistance with a moderate number of reps per set.
There is no absolute figure here but a good rule of thumb is to follow a plan of 10 reps per set , typically three sets and using a medium weight for you.
What we really need to do in our routines
The moderate phase
Now, one more very important item: fueling this hypertrophy. Without adhering to a proper diet and correct fuelling you will only be stalling and inhibiting your progress. To maximize your gains and properly reward all your physical efforts, make sure you feed the body immediately after your workout. You will need a combination of carbs and protein. The ratio is approximately 4:1 down to 2:1 Carbs-to-Protein. There are many articles here in WatchFit to help with your diet and there are more resources than ever for you to dip into and breakdown your precise dietry requirements.
One easy way to get this is to drink a quick glass of low-fat chocolate milk after your workout. Follow that up with another glass of fresh water, then plan a normal meal within an hour or so afterwards. This might mean you plan your workout perhaps an hour prior to mealtime.
So try this simple combination of moderate load exercise and good nutrition follow-up for a few weeks. You will find it manageable, enjoyable and – when you see the results – truly rewarding!
Expert’s note: the above mentioned results will mean good muscle size and shape in men, however in women this does not translate into large “size” or “bulk” – don’t worry about looking ‘manly’! What will happen is a very small amount of size, increased muscle strength and basically a shaping and toning that will have you looking your best! Trust me…you’ll love how you look!