Anyone who works out can attest to the fact that gaining weight is easy, but building muscle is hard. If you’re new to bodybuilding, or if you haven’t been seeing any results in spite of working out regularly, this article is just what you need as it can help you learn how to gain muscle. In addition to teaching you how to gain muscle, this guide will also bust some of the most commonly held myths about muscle building. So, read on to learn all about the functions of the muscular systems in the body, the myths about how to gain muscle, and some tips on how to gain muscle.
Functions of Muscular Systems
The muscular system has a crucial role to play in the proper functioning of the human body. Before we look at how to gain muscle, let's understand the main functions of the muscular system, as explained below.
The primary function of the muscular system is to allow for movement of the body. In order to make that happen, the muscles constantly contract and expand. Your muscular system is responsible for both gross movement, such as walking and running, as well as for fine movement, such as writing and speaking.
The muscular system, especially the tendons, are constantly at work to help stabilize your body. Without them, you simply wouldn’t even be able to stand up. In addition to the tendons, the muscles in your core, back, and pelvic regions also contribute to stability and help you lift weights. Weak muscles in these regions are usually the reason behind instability and bad posture.
The muscles in our body help maintain our posture while sitting or standing. If the muscular system is weak, it can often lead to drooping and hunching of the body. Muscles are supposed to be flexible and so, if they’re stiff or tight, you will often find it leads to bad posture and misalignment. Chronic bad posture can also put more pressure on the joints and muscle, and can cause pain and discomfort.
Myths about Building Muscle
Many fitness enthusiasts often believe in several myths about how to gain muscle. Some of the myths that most people readily assume to be true are explained below.
The Ideal Rep Range Is 8-12 Reps
You might have heard this in your gym. Many trainers encourage people to work within this rep range in order to stimulate muscle growth. But this is far from the truth. Muscular tension, muscle damage, and metabolic stress are the three main factors that contribute to muscle growth. Simply sticking to the 8-12 rep range will not take you far. You should focus on doing both heavy-load, low-volume as well as light-load, high-volume workouts to maximize muscle growth.
Always Use Free Weights
A lot of gym-enthusiasts swear by this. They claim that the only way to stimulate muscle growth and increase muscle mass is by sticking to free weights such as dumbbells and barbells. While it is true that free weights are really good at building muscle, they’re not the only things to do so. As explained above, your muscle growth is dependent on tension, damage, and stress, which you can still achieve by working out with machines. So, the next time you go to the gym, do not shy away from using the leg press or the leg curl machines.
You Can’t Lose Fat and Build Muscle Simultaneously
This is one huge myth that even experienced lifters fall for. Many people think that a caloric surplus is what you need to build muscle. While it is partly true to a certain extent, your body is also capable of using stored energy, which is fat, to fuel the muscle-building process. Research has proven that the more fat and less muscle you have, the greater your ability to build muscle and burn fat.
These myths are just the tip of the iceberg and there are a lot more in the fray. Refrain from believing in anything that is not backed by science or proper research as it’s highly likely that such theories may be false.
How to Gain Muscle Tissue
If you are still interested in learning how to gain muscle, here are some tips that you can incorporate into your workout regimen to maximize muscle growth.
Lift Heavy and Increase Your Strength
You can never hope to build muscle without first growing in strength. The bodybuilders and fitness models that you see on the internet did not get where they are now by lifting light weights. Lifting heavy weights will help you overload your muscles and promote muscle growth. Lifting heavy also increases your strength, thereby helping you lift even more weight. The next time you hit the gym, lift heavy, even if it means you have to drop your reps down. This way, you can ensure that your overall muscle mass increases.
Stick to Compound Lifts
There’s a significant advantage to doing compound lifts. Compound exercises work multiple muscle groups at the same time. Apart from helping you cut down the time you spend on your workouts, compound movements also allow you to go heavy. They have plenty of other advantages such as burning more calories, improving flexibility and strength, and helping you gain more muscle mass. Squats, deadlifts, and bench presses are the most common compound lifts and work almost all of the muscle groups in your body.
The more you train a muscle group, the more you trigger it to grow. If you work a muscle group only once per week, you’re stimulating the muscle only 52 times in a year, which is not enough to push the muscle to grow. Research concludes that you can hit a muscle group again after 72 hours of last training them. This frequent training will constantly trigger the muscle to grow. Also, training frequently allows you to lift heavier weights quicker, consequently leading to more muscle growth.
Focus on Progression
In order to maximize muscle growth, you need to come out of your comfort zone. Getting stuck within a particular weight range for a long time will hinder your muscle building capabilities. Your muscles need to be constantly overloaded, and to do that, you have to constantly progress by increasing the weights. For instance, if you have been bench pressing 100 pounds for around a month, you’re no longer stimulating your muscle as you’ve gotten yourself into a comfort zone. Try bench pressing 120 pounds the next time and watch as your muscles grow.
Focus on Recovery
While working out intensely is important, giving your muscles ample time to recover is just as necessary. To grow bigger and stronger, your muscles need to recover from the molecular damage caused by the workout. If you work a muscle group every single day, you’re not giving the muscle enough time to repair itself. This can grind your muscle building goals to a halt. Taking a couple of rest days per week is important to build muscle.
Increase Your Protein Intake
You’re likely to hear this response whenever the question of how to gain muscle pops up. Proteins are the building blocks of muscles. Your muscles require protein in order to recover and repair itself. Protein also helps support your muscle mass and prevents your body from breaking your muscles down. Make sure to always consume adequate protein as it is not just needed by your muscles but is also used by your body to make enzymes, hormones, and other bodily chemicals.
Switch-Up Your Workout
Sticking to the same workout routine for months on end will not get you anywhere. Your body is highly adaptable and can quickly get used to a particular form of stress. Therefore, it is recommended that you switch up your workout plan once every 3 months, in order to shock your body into gaining more muscle mass. For instance, if you’ve been doing normal grip barbell bicep curls as part of your routine, you can switch it up by using either a close grip or a wide grip to continue stimulating the muscles.
Use Supplements Wisely
Supplements such as protein shakes and BCAAs are highly convenient and can help you in achieving your muscle building goals. Whey protein shakes are a great way to infuse a dose of protein into your body. They’re fast-digesting and are ideal for consumption during the post workout feeding window, as they have the tendency to kick start protein synthesis. BCAAs bypass your digestive system entirely and get directly absorbed into the bloodstream, making them readily available for use. This makes them ideal for use as either a pre-workout or a post-workout drink.
Get Quality Sleep
Most how-to-gain-muscle guides stress the importance of sleep for muscle growth. This is because sleep is as important as nutrition when it comes to building muscle. Your body releases human growth hormones (HGH) and testosterone when you are asleep. Both of these hormones play a huge role in increasing your muscle mass. According to scientific studies, sleeping for around 5 hours every day can cut the testosterone levels in your body by a massive 10 to 15 percent. Therefore, make sure to get a minimum of 8 hours of sleep each night.
Working out rarely or infrequently is not going to help you put on any muscle mass. You need to make it a part of your lifestyle and be consistent if you want to see any changes in your body. On average, it takes a year of a dedicated workout routine and diet for most people to gain 24 pounds of lean muscle mass. If you want to see dramatic changes to your body, the key is to be consistent.
Before you go ahead and start working out, you should first understand that gaining muscle is a slow process. Most people mislead young and inexperienced fitness enthusiasts with guides on how to gain muscle quickly. Unfortunately, the hard truth is that it simply is not possible to build muscle mass in a short period of time - unless you take steroids. Armed with these tips on how to build muscle, some patience, and unwavering dedication, you can slowly but surely transform yourself.