Building Muscle

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Building Muscle

Building muscle, whether it be to the extent of wanting a bodybuilders physique, or alternatively for a greater athletic appearance, is a process which is not commonly understood by many trainers. Without the knowledge of how muscles are built bigger, how can the process be optimised to enhance muscle building? In this article we will briefly look at the muscle building process, and then look at steps on how to build muscle quicker and more effectively.

Muscle hypertrophy is the term used to describe the increased size of muscle tissue. Inducing muscle hypertrophy is the aim of the bodybuilder, or recreational trainer, when attempting to build muscle mass. The first process of building muscle commonly comes in the form of resistance training, where the muscle tissue is stimulated, resulting in micro-trauma to the muscle fibres. When implementing certain training methods there can also be a heightened level of endogenous anabolic hormones post exercise, increasing the chances of heightened muscle hypotrophy. The micro-tears to the muscle tissue are repaired post training, with the body overcompensating by increasing the muscle fibre size, a method of adapting to the stress induced. With correct rest between each session, and the supply of nutrients needed for muscle hypertrophy, this process can be repeated over a time span to build muscle tissue.

Training for building muscle

The resistance training is the stimulus which causes the micro-trauma, as well as inducing the secretion of anabolic hormones such as testosterone and growth hormone (GH). The correct training methods are therefore important for optimal muscle building.

A repetition range of between eight and twelve, with each repetition lasting roughly four second in duration, commonly is sufficient for muscle building. Visiting online communities, such as bodybuilding forums, will indicate the vast split in opinion when it comes to repetitions ranges for muscle building. Many claim a lower repetition range produces better gains, although many studies do indicate the time under tension supplied by the eight to twelve repetitions will produce the best results in the majority of trainers due to; sufficient mechanical stress, secretion of endogenous hormones, lactic acid accumulation (a predecessor to anabolic hormone release), and increase “pump”; which is in fact a highly anabolic process which heightens protein synthesis.

It is important to choose exercises which target the muscles effectively, and it would be advised to make the backbone of a regime with compound exercises, such as bench press, over head press, rows, squats, and deadlifts. A training plan should be balanced, and allow for adequate rest between sessions.

Rest, nutrition, and supplements for building muscle

Knowing the muscle building takes place outside of the gym should indicate the need for sufficient rest between training. More training will not equal increased muscle building, and gains cannot be rushed by spending countless hours in the gym. Training for an hour, intensely, three to four times per week is optimal for most. Ensure you have enough sleep each night, and stress levels are not heightened (which can quickly reduce performance in the gym, and turn into a downward cycle of under-performance, stress and depressed state of mind).

Nutrition is vitally important when it comes to building muscle tissue. Nutrients should be plentiful and varied, with enough protein, carbohydrates and dietary fats consumed to fuel training, the muscle repair process, and everyday life. For an example muscle building meal plan see – Meal Plan for Bodybuilding Weight Gain. Sufficient fluids should be drunk during the cause of the day, especially during exercise when the body looses fluids via sweat.

Supplements should ideally be limited until a correct diet is followed, with supplement intake an inferior priority of the two. Supplements should supplement a diet, with choice depending on goals and purchasing power.

Most will do extremely well from consuming the correct diet for muscle building, whilst intaking a whey protein supplement post training, as well as creatine monohydrate. Both whey and creatine can be purchased relatively cheaply; with 100g of creatine monohydrate price currently at £1.99 from a bulk retailer – 20 days’ supply, and whey protein can be bought for £15 per kilo for unflavoured whey protein from a bulk retailer, with most branded flavoured protein retailing at £35.00 for 2.2kg. A serving of whey would be between 30-45g, with one or two servings per day.

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