14 Ways To Build Muscle

Building muscle mass is a common goal among men. Different strategies are used, from drinking specialized shakes to performing more intense workouts.

Sometimes, even with excessive effort applied, the results feel insignificant. When this happens, a man is likely to feel unmotivated. Low motivation often becomes the reason for a man to quit their program too.

The good news is that men can build muscle mass if they know what strategies to implement. With appropriate guidance, muscle growth can occur in less time and with more success.

In this post, we look at 14 of the most effective tips that men can use to gain muscle mass growth. We also look at ways to prevent weight gain in the form of fat but rather only focus on muscle hypertrophy and growth.

Muscle Mass And Aging

As the male body ages, it continues to go through several changes. During the 20s, men reach a peak in their testosterone levels. Building muscle feels easy, as all it may take is some strength training and the right protein intake. Unfortunately, these effects do not last forever.

Men over 30 start to experience a loss of both testosterone and muscle mass. The good news is that the loss is so gradual that a lot of men will not notice it. How quickly a man’s muscle mass deteriorates, however, depends on them.

According to research, up to 5% of muscle mass is lost every decade after a man reaches the age of 30. The same research report states that an estimated 30% of muscle mass is lost throughout a man’s lifespan.

Men who do not remain physically active and continue with their weight training routines are susceptible to larger muscle mass losses. The reduction in muscle fiber size and strength also leads to problems with mobility. Men generally find that they are at a higher risk of injury. Muscle tissue is also responsible for protecting joints – which means joints have a higher risk of problems when there is a reduced lean mass in the body.

As muscle mass declines, a lot of men will gain weight. Muscle loss comes with an increase in body weight – but not due to lean mass, but rather fat.

On the other hand, we do see men in their 40s or even 50s show off huge biceps and a desirable six-pack. These men serve as proof that men do not have to settle for the loss of muscle mass. Taking action can help to preserve existing muscle tissue. It can also enable more lean mass to build up.

How To Gain Muscle Mass

When it comes to increasing muscle strength and lean muscle mass, some strategies tend to work better than others. In the end, however, it is important for men to take note that a personalized approach tends to work best. With this in mind, men should consider tips that can help them develop a custom program that works for them.

In this section, we share 14 tips that are crucial for any man lookout to create their own muscle-building workout plan. We focus on factors that affect muscle growth, dieting habits that are effective and provide details on how to improve muscle recovery.

1) Focus On Multiple Muscle Groups

When it comes to workouts, whether at home or the gym, it is important to carefully select the specific activities that will be performed. Men often focus on a specific muscle group with each of the activities they perform. While this works, it generally takes much longer to see results with such a strategy.

When a man switches to exercises that focus on multiple muscle groups at once, they get better and faster results. These exercises will usually be much more intense compared to an activity that targets a single muscle group. The higher intensity is what causes an increase in muscle hypertrophy. By maximizing muscle hypertrophy, combined with appropriate recovery methods, muscle fibers will grow bigger in less time.

These activities are generally referred to as compound exercises. They are activities that help a person target many muscle groups at once. This makes every workout session much more efficient.

Squats are a common example of compound exercises. A squat will target the calves, glutes, and quadriceps muscle groups – all with a single workout.

2) Use Pre-Workout Drinks

People have mixed opinions regarding pre-workout meals and drinks. Some believe that these are essential to their workout routine. Others are worried that a pre-workout shake will cause weight gain in the form of fat. 

When trying to build lean muscle mass, you should consider using pre-workout drinks. The idea here is to load your body with protein instead of carbs. Carbohydrate intake needs to be delayed until your workout is done. For now, however, you want to increase your protein intake to support muscle growth. 

Studies have taken a look at how a pre-workout supplement or drink affects the development of lean muscle mass. In one clinical trial, a total of 40 young individuals were taken into consideration. 

A blend of betaine, dendrobium extract, and creatine was used in the production of a pre-workout supplement. The researchers found a significant increase in muscle hypertrophy among the individuals who used the supplement. There was also an increase in the amount of lean muscle mass growth in the group that used a pre-workout supplement. 

3) Know Your Limits

Men often try to push themselves. The idea behind this effort is to gain muscle mass faster. While it may be tempting to really push their limits, men do need to ensure they are careful. By knowing their limits, men can avoid injury to their muscles. While the goal is to achieve muscle hypertrophy, taking things too far during a workout can lead to serious injury in some cases. 

When a man suffers an injury to their muscle fibers, they will experience downtime. This means the man will not be able to continue with their workout routine. A resting period will be needed to recover from the injury. In this case, the individual loses some of the progress they had made. With this in mind, men should learn to better understand their own limits. It is possible to push the body a bit, but pushing too far results in complications. 

4) Keep Carbs For After Those Intense Workouts

Carbohydrates break down into sugars in the body. This leads to a surge in glucose, which causes the body to release insulin. While a person would generally implement methods to control insulin flow, it is important to realize that this is a type of growth hormone. 

Once an intense workout session is complete, a man needs to implement appropriate methods to support their muscles’ recovery. The muscle fibers entered a state of hypertrophy during the workouts. An increase in insulin release would help with the recovery process. This is why men should ensure they hold off on the carbohydrates until they are done with the daily workout. 

5) Use Whey Protein In Your Shakes

 Shakes generally form an important part of a man’s workout program. While a wholesome diet is essential, shakes can be customized to include some of the most essential nutrients a man needs. This makes filling up on protein, amino acids, and even general vitamins and minerals significantly easier. 

When preparing shakes, the quality of ingredients plays an important role. While there are different sources of protein, whey powder tends to outrank the rest. 

There are many recipes that men can experiment with when using whey protein powder. 

Here’s an example of a great pre-workout smoothie recipe that uses whey protein:

  • Two teaspoons of peanut butter

  • Two tablespoons of rolled oats

  • A cup of low-fat milk

  • One banana, cut into pieces

  • About half a tablespoon of cacao powder

  • A quarter cup of blueberries

  • A single scoop of whey protein powder

Simply mix all of these ingredients in a blender. It takes less than five minutes to prepare this nutritious smoothie that will support a person throughout their workout routine. 

6) Aim For A Higher Training Volume

Men generally tend to aim for an increased intensity as they become more used to their workout routine. The idea here is to add extra resistance to the workouts. In turn, this creates a more significant level of muscle hypertrophy. 

While it is important to increase the intensity of training protocols, a man should not overlook the role of training volume. If a person increases the intensity of their exercises too soon, it may increase the risk of injury. 

By focusing on training volume first, a man can experience efficient levels of muscle hypertrophy, with a lower risk of suffering an injury. 

There are a few studies that have looked at the association between muscle growth and training volume. In one study, a more significant increase in muscle growth was observed when men were asked to opt for a higher training volume compared to the increased intensity of their workouts. 

In addition to the increase in muscle growth, the researchers also noted an improvement in physical strength.

7) Reduce Your Resting Times

When participating in an exercise routine, there will generally be resting times implemented between various sets of reps. These resting times help a man regain control over their breathing. It also helps to avoid pushing the body too much. Even just resting for a few seconds can be helpful. 

As man aims to improve their results over time, they should focus on shortening the resting times between sets. It is important to note that resting periods should not be eliminated entirely. They are helpful and serve an important function. 

By reducing resting times to merely a few seconds to a couple of minutes, depending on the intensity of the program, it is possible to achieve better results. This ensures muscle fibers are still warm when the next set of reps occur. 

8) Add More Protein To Your Diet

Protein is crucial for the muscle growth process. If a person’s diet lacks adequate protein, then there are not enough macronutrients to support the process of increasing lean muscle mass. Amino acids form the basis of protein. These compounds are called the building blocks of protein. 

There are many ways to add protein to a person’s diet. It is, however, important to focus on high-quality proteins

Apart from whey and casein protein powders, other excellent sources of quality protein include:

  • Beans

  • Seafood

  • Poultry

  • Tofu

  • Nuts

  • Seeds

It is important to eat a balanced diet. Adding more protein-rich foods can help to increase the intake of this macronutrient. A man should still focus on getting enough vitamins, minerals, and healthy fats too. All of these nutrients contribute to healthy muscle growth. 

9) Get Your Calorie Intake Right

 When aiming for weight loss, a calorie deficit diet becomes essential. By reducing calorie intake, there is a negative balance – resulting in a reduction of body weight. On the other hand, increasing calorie intake means a person would rather be gaining weight. 

A man who is trying to gain muscle mass will not be able to effectively achieve their goals through a calorie deficit. In this particular case, a man may end up losing too much weight. Being able to gain muscle mass with this type of diet may also become hard. 

A calorie surplus is needed when developing a diet program for muscle growth. The excess calories ensure there is enough substance for muscles to grow. 

While a calorie surplus is substantial, an overweight or obese man needs to be careful. Eating too many calories and not exercising enough may lead to excessive weight gain. Not in the form of muscle mass, but rather fat. 

10) Focus On Healthy Sleep

 A lot of people trying to build muscle do not realize just how important sleep truly is. When we sleep, our bodies can recover and heal much more effectively compared to the waking times. With this in mind, it is crucial for men to ensure they get sufficient sleep. 

The recommended daily sleep time is the same for young and older adult men up to 65. Between the ages of 18 and 65, the recommended sleep time is seven to nine hours each night. 

When a man fails to get enough sleep, their body experiences a number of adverse effects. Sleep deficiency is linked to complications such as depression, obesity, and chronic diseases. Poor sleep also interferes with the recovery process of muscles. Increased muscle soreness is something men sometimes experience when they do not sleep enough. 

11) Have A Snack Before Getting Into Bed

Bedtime snacks are something that most people do not consider a good idea when they want to live a healthy life. The concern here is generally weight loss. When a person eats before bed, they get excess calories that will likely be stored as fat. This is due to inactivity during sleep. 

When trying to build muscle mass, however, things are a bit different. Having a snack before bedtime could actually be highly beneficial. It is important to consider the type of snack being consumed. 

A good idea would be to have a snack that contains casein. This is a high-quality protein that helps with muscle recovery and lean mass development. A man can choose to have a casein protein bar before bed. They can also rather choose to prepare a shake that contains some casein protein powder. 

The protein from the casein powder provides a full profile of amino acids. This promotes a faster recovery of muscle fibers. A man may find that they experience less soreness in the morning. Muscle mass may also grow at an accelerated rate. 

12) Don’t Skip On Breakfast

 Breakfast has gained mixed opinions. Some experts believe that breakfast is the most essential part of a person’s diet. Others explain that breakfast is something to rather skip on. 

Men who are trying to build muscle mass need to ensure they get enough calories into their bodies. Each meal should be loaded with healthy sources of protein, fiber, vitamins, minerals, and healthy fats

It is also usually advised to eat smaller meals but on more frequent occasions. This should all start with breakfast. By eating regularly, insulin levels are regulated more efficiently. As we mentioned previously, insulin is essentially a growth hormone. 

Breakfast also offers a man an opportunity to get their initial load of protein for the day. The right breakfast boosts energy and will support the man during their workout routine as well. 

13) A Daily Dose Of Fruit And Vegetables

 Developing a diet plan for muscle growth should concentrate on all nutrients. A lot of men focus mainly on protein. They load their diet with poultry and fish but often forget to attend to their bodies’ nutritional requirements. 

Some vitamins and minerals are involved in the production of energy, blood flow, and even the synthesis of proteins. 

Adding more fruits and vegetables to a diet is a highly effective method for improving nutritional intake. Fruits and vegetables are high in vitamins and minerals. Fiber and antioxidants are also available in abundance. 

14) Keep Track And Make Adjustments

 A final tip we want to share is to keep track of a muscle-building program. There is no use in continuing the same program for an extended period of time if it does not yield the expected results. Thus, men should get a journal that helps them keep track of their performance. 

It is easier for a man to make adjustments to their current program by tracking performance and results. When the program does not provide visible results in eight weeks, the man can consult the journal. They can then use the information jolted down to identify areas that need improvement. 

How Long Does It Take To Gain Muscle Mass?

The time it takes to see results with a muscle-building program depends on various factors. A man should consider their age. As we have mentioned, aging results in a loss of muscle mass. This can make it a bit harder to build up more lean mass.

Current fitness also matters. Men who are already-fit and healthy will have an easier time getting into a weight training program. Those who are only starting out may need to give the program a bit more time.

Furthermore, current body weight is another factor to consider. Men who are overweight or obese will need to implement strategies that help them with weight loss. The excess fat in the body can interfere with the man’s ability to see changes to their muscle fibers.

Generally, men should allow about eight weeks to gain muscle mass. In this case, the man should participate in their resistance training, and compound exercises program a few times every week. Men who need to lose weight should ensure they also do some cardio. This helps them burn extra calories in their diet effectively and ensures there can be a reduction in body fat.

Conclusion

Skeletal muscle mass helps men remain healthy and boosts confidence. As men age, there is often a reduction in lean muscle. At the same time, body fat percentage tends to increase. Fortunately, strategies exist that can help men, even as they age, maintain healthy levels of lean mass in their bodies. It is also possible to gain muscle mass at an older age through the right diet and exercise program.

Sources

  1. Harvard Medical School. (2016) Preserve your muscle mass. [online] Available at: https://www.health.harvard.edu/staying-healthy/preserve-your-muscle-mass
  2. HHS Public Access. (2015) Muscle as a molecular machine for protecting joints and bones by absorbing mechanical impacts. [online] Available at: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4112738/
  3. International Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health. (2019) Maximizing Muscle Hypertrophy: A Systematic Review of Advanced Resistance Training Techniques and Methods. [online] Available at: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6950543/
  4. Healthline. (2019) How to Add Compound Exercises to Your Workout Routine. [online] Available at: https://www.healthline.com/health/fitness-exercise/compound-exercises
  5. International Journal of Medical Sciences. (2014) Effects of a Pre-workout Supplement on Lean Mass, Muscular Performance, Subjective Workout Experience and Biomarkers of Safety. [online] Available at: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3894395/
  6. HHS Public Access. (2010) Effect of insulin on human skeletal muscle protein synthesis is modulated by insulin-induced changes in muscle blood flow and amino acid availability. [online] Available at: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2804964/
  7. Medicine and Science in Sports and Exercise. (2019) Resistance Training Volume Enhances Muscle Hypertrophy but Not Strength in Trained Men. [online] Available at: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6303131/
Alternative Text

Dr. Ahmed Zayed

Dr. Ahmed Zayed holds a baccalaureate of Medicine and Surgery. He has completed his degree at the University of Alexandria, Egypt. Founder of ZayedMD, Dr. Ahmed believes in making the knowledge as accessible as possible to patients. He had his work featured in reputable publications such as The Huffington Post. Other than his passion for writing, Dr. Ahmed spends​ his time outside the hospital at the gym or with a good book.

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