JDP Muscle building expert Jackson Hinch gives you his 11 must know muscle building secrets.
So you want to build some muscle, welcome to the club. Every gym goers dream is to just be able to slap on little bits of muscle wherever you want, here, there and everywhere, and strip off the unwanted fat with a couple cardio sessions and a salad or two. Unfortunately, it’s not that easy, especially the muscle building. Building some appreciable muscle mass takes time, effort, and consistency. Fortunately, it’s not super complicated and there’s is a few tips and tricks that can tilt the odds in your favor.
With muscle building, there is this misconception that females and males build muscle in different ways, in fact, the opposite is true. We’re all human and biology is biology, while females will never have the hormone levels to reach the levels of musculature possible for males, the process of building muscle is exactly the same for both parties. So these muscle building secrets are applicable to both male and female alike.
1) Eat More Protein
This should be common sense and shouldn’t be much of a secret, but this simple advice seems to get lost in the variety of diets, guidelines, and fads floating around these days. Your muscles are made up of various proteins, so to build muscle you need to be eating ample protein. When we train we break down and damage muscle tissue, it then adapts and learns to come back bigger and stronger. It can’t recover without the building blocks it’s made from, that’s like throwing lots of mortar at a builder but no bricks and expecting him to build a house!
Eat at least 2g of protein per kilogram of body weight daily.
2) Eat in a calorie surplus
Your body cannot grow muscle tissue out of thin air. Along with ample protein, your body needs a surplus of calories coming in to grow. You burn a ‘maintenance’ amount of calories just to stay alive, do your daily activities, stay healthy etc, growing new muscle tissue is way down the priority list in terms of your body surviving. So to make sure there is enough food, building blocks, left over for your body after all the essential functions are taken care of you need to be consistently eating over and above what your body is burning on a daily basis already.
3) Sleep at least 6-7 hours night
Getting ample sleep is paramount to your muscle building goals. Without sleep your energy levels will be low, you won’t recover from fatigue, you’ll struggle for an appetite, and your hormone levels will all tilt in the favor of catabolism (burning/losing muscle and weight) vs anabolism (gaining/building muscle and weight).
4) Avoid Alcohol
This may be one of the toughest ‘secrets’ to digest for most people, but it works!! Alcohol is basically wasted calories for your body as it has to burn them there and then as it has no real way of storing those calories for a later time. Most Alcohol comes hand in hand with carbohydrates (beer, wine, mixers) which then leads to fat gain rather than muscle gain. It is also proven that excessive alcohol consumption can lead to lowered testosterone levels in males, and increased cortisol levels in both males and females, both of which will hinder your muscle building endeavors.
5) Train with weights
This sounds as simple as anything to build muscle, but people seem to forget this as well. Your body has no reason to put on extra muscle mass, it will hold the minimum it needs to carry out your daily tasks and survive. Weight Training gives your body a reason to build muscle. When you train, you break down and damage the muscle tissue, as a response the body knows it needs to adapt and come back bigger and stronger. Without the stimulus to grow from the resistance training, there’s no muscle growth. Simple.
6) Progressive Overload
This is a relatively simple principle to put into practice and will put you right on the road to muscles. Your body adapts to the stimulus from weight training, so if you consistently give it the same stimulus by lifting the same weights for the same reps on the same exercises, with the same rest times and in the same order every week guess what? You’ll stay the same! You need to consistently challenge your body and it’s limitations in one way or another, otherwise, it will adapt to what you’re doing and not build any more muscle because it doesn’t need to.
7) Eat carbohydrates
They are not the enemy!! Carbohydrates are the best fuel source for your body in high-intensity activities (eg Resistance Training), they burn efficiently and effectively. If your body runs out of fuel when you’re training before you provide a sufficient stimulus for it to grow you won’t get anywhere. You need to make sure that your muscles strength and endurance is the limiting factor that you reach when training, rather than your energy stores or conditioning stopping you early in your sets. Carbohydrates also make your body release Insulin which is arguably the most anabolic hormone in the human body. Without it, your protein won’t reach your muscles to recover and carbs won’t reach your muscles to fuel them.
8) Eat your Greens
It doesn’t have to be green, but make sure you’re getting ample and varied vegetables and fruits. Everyone gets caught up on the macronutrients (Protein, Carbs, Fats) but they seem to forget about the micronutrients (Vitamins, Minerals). These are needed for all of our bodily functions, and as much as we try to simplify it, our bodies work as a system, so if one or more of these functions is comprised the flow on effects carry on down the chain. Best to make sure that you have all your bases covered and eat your greens!
9) Get a training partner or trainer
No matter how much we like to tell ourselves that we’re animals in the gym, there are very few people who will train as hard solo as they would with a training partner or a trainer. Our minds are generally the weakest link when it comes to training, we’ll make emotional decisions to cut a set short, not get those last couple reps, skip an exercise, or cut a session short. With a second set of eyes on you and making sure you are giving every set your best effort, you’ll build more muscle than if you go at it solo.
10) Train your entire body
Your body likes to stay balanced. You can train some muscles to be slightly better developed than others but your body will never let it get to be ridiculous. Your body works as a system inside and out with muscles working together, so if you overdevelop some muscles you’ll just get injured and your body will work against you. Train your entire body and try to give equal attention to all muscle groups, this way you’ll build a well-balanced physique and won’t hold yourself back due to unnecessary injuries and imbalances.
11) Eat good fats
Fat doesn’t make you fat. Fat is a necessary catalyst in hormone production and joint integrity within your body. Testosterone and Estrogen are two of the bodies most important hormones when it comes to muscle building, whether you’re male or female. These are both reliant on ample fat intake to stay at healthy levels. Your joints integrity will also thank you with enough intake of fat, especially a good range of omega 3 and 6 fatty acids. This will make sure that they are well lubricated and the soft tissue holding them together stays intake and healthy, fewer injuries mean more training and more muscle!!
These are secrets to some and common knowledge to others. Whether you’re a complete beginner or somewhat advanced, if there’s something on this list that you’re not doing you have room to improve on your muscle building quest. Nothing is 100% and no one has the perfect training routine or diet, there are always small changes you can make to ensure your muscle building training and diet is more efficient and effective.