As we begin to quickly approach the fall, many high school and college athletes all across the country are looking to gain size and strength for upcoming sports seasons. So what are some good ways to gain muscle and strength? Let’s take a look.
Whenever we are considering gaining muscle or strength, we must first look at the physiological effect. In order to grow in size, or in physiological terms hypertrophy, a muscle needs to be broken down and recovered to make the adaptation. Exercise, in the form of resistance training, is the stimulus to break muscle down. By putting a load on the muscle and stressing the muscle, micro-tears are created throughout and the muscle and it’s broken down. Intense weight training in a rep range of 1 to 8 is most ideal for size and strength. Remember muscles don’t grow in the gym, the exercise is solely the stimulus for muscle growth.
Not quite sure how to structure a fitness plan? Hiring a personal trainer can be an appropriate decision especially if you are a novice in the fitness realm. A personal trainer will ensure proper form and technique and keep you from injuring yourself which will obviously impede your results. Hiring an instructor can also make certain that you are targeting your muscles correctly and efficiently. Many are using the improper form and thus are not recruiting the intended muscles. Too many gym-goers are using momentum and “cheating” thus not stimulating the muscle fibers intended. Make sure to research your trainer however, not all trainers are created equal! Some are more accredited than others.
Once the stimulus for muscle breakdown is through, the next step is recovery. Giving the muscles trained adequate time to rest and recover is essential for them to recuperate and progress. Sometimes a short nap during the day can help to speed recovery, but it’s essential to give your muscles proper sleep. Try to create a biorhythm by following the same sleep protocol night in and night out to allow your body to obtain a rhythm and thus more adequate and quicker sleep. Remember, a dark, cool room can help. Also, make sure not to consume caffeine to close to bedtime.
Nutrition also becomes a very important factor in recovery. Protein is responsible for building, maintaining, and repairing muscle tissue. In order to gain size and strength, it is important to increase one’s protein intake. Many have indicated that up to 1-2 grams per pound bodyweight is ideal. Quality or complete proteins are a must. Complete proteins have more quantity and quality of branched-chain amino acids which are responsible for muscle recovery. Sources such as animal products containing meat, whey, or egg should be utilized. Additionally, protein immediately after a workout is a must. This helps to stimulate recovery and in liquid form is much more easily digestible and available to the muscles.
Next setting goals is very important to making progress. Setting short term, mid-range and long term goals can help to keep you motivated and to keep you on track. Make sure to make realistic, specific, and attainable goals for yourself. Conquering each goal can be very inspiring but make sure that they are realistic so that you don’t become discouraged. Remember, staying on track and maintaining motivation is going to be vital to success.
Finally, consistency is a very underestimated ingredient to gain size and strength. Consistent exercise, sleep, and proper nutrition day in and day out over an extended period of time is what is going to yield the best results. Muscle and strength increase doesn’t happen overnight it does take time, however by following the principles listed in this article one can achieve such results in a very safe and efficient manner.