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Gaining Muscle

By Anne Keckler | September 17, 2009

Let’s start with a confession.

Hi, my name is Anne, and I’m a foody.

My Weakness

I have an absolute obsession with food. I love to taste new things, to figure out the best way to prepare a certain dish. I love food! There is probably a twelve step program for this, but I’m not ready to give up my addiction just yet.

Naturally, my greatest struggle, when it comes to fitness, is weightloss. I may love food, but I don’t particularly want to look like I love food.

I tend to study weightloss quite a bit as a result of this struggle. That studying leads me to write about what I learn, and that is why you’ll find a lot of information on my site regarding weightloss, and specifically fat loss. In addition, it seems to be an area where a lot of other people struggle, and my goal is to provide scientifically sound information to anyone who reads my site.

But someone recently emailed me to ask if I have experience in helping others to gain muscle. I’m so glad I got this question.

Gaining Muscle

The one area where I have the least struggle is in gaining strength and muscle. I’m going to give you a few quick tips today, and I promise to elaborate on this subject in the near future.

Lift heavy weights. Doing a hundred reps with little or no weight will increase your muscle endurance, but it will do little for sheer strength or muscle size. (And ladies, don’t let the word “size” scare you. You won’t end up looking like a man! I promise.) So lift a weight that is somewhat challenging for you. Do ten reps with it. Do twelve if you can. Then add more weight and do eight reps. Increase reps gradually again until you can do twelve, then increase the weight and do eight again. You can continue in this way for a while, gaining strength, and it’s necessary to have some strength and to be able to exercise with proper form before you can gain much muscle.

Lift often enough. If you lift infrequently, you risk injury and won’t make good progress toward your goals. Three or four times a week seems to be optimum for most people.

Do compound movements. Isolated movements do not build muscle or strength as well as compound movements. An example of an isolated movement is a bicep curl. An example of a compound movement is a squat, or bench press. Isolated movements are useful for rehabilitation, but compound movements are best for building functional strength.

Eat enough to give you the energy you need, and more to build muscle. It takes calories to build new cells, and many of those calories should come from protein. Strive to consume at least one gram of protein per pound of lean body mass, and eat about 500 calories more than you need to just maintain your current weight. I’ll give you more information on how to figure out how many calories you need, if you don’t already know, in the near future.

Increase intensity on a regular basis. If you aren’t increasing the intensity your body will get used to what you are doing and you will plateau. This goes back to what I said about lifting heavy weights, above.

Rest. Daily rest is essential to avoid the symptoms of overtraining. Taking time off between workouts is also a good idea, and the ideal break would be 36 hours. Most people have busy schedules, and it’s easier to work out at the same time of day each time, so they have a weightlifting session about every 48 hours. Taking a week or two off every couple of months will cause your body to respond more favorably to weightlifting when you start back up again, too.

That’s it for now! But keep checking back to learn more about how to set up a workout program to meet your goals. Even if your primary goal is to lose fat, you will want to at least maintain muscle. I can teach you how to do that. And if the bland, boring diet that you read about on most weight-loss blogs sounds unappealing to you, you’ll love the fact that muscle helps to increase your metabolism, so you naturally burn more calories throughout the day, and you can eat more than the cardio bunnies!

Related posts:

  1. Lost Weight – Now What?
  2. Book Review: New Rules of Lifting
  3. Thinking About Food
  4. 25 Fitness Myths, Part 2
  5. 25 Fitness Myths, Part 1

Related posts:

  1. Lost Weight – Now What?
  2. Book Review: New Rules of Lifting
  3. Thinking About Food
  4. 25 Fitness Myths, Part 2
  5. 25 Fitness Myths, Part 1

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