Growing muscles to achieve that dream body is an affair that takes months and even years.
Fitness trainer Captain Jotham Kusienya of Muscle Health and Fitness, says it requires persistent work in the gym and sticking to a clean diet to bulk up and even then one’s body type plays a big role.
Just as one has to be consistent while trying to burn fat, Jotham says an individual has to do the same by sticking to a workout programme to build muscles.
“Just as exercise can help people lose weight, it can also help one gain weight in a healthy way. Regular exercise is therefore one of the most important steps to bulking up,” he says.
“Set reasonable goals for yourself by starting small and then increasing the reps and sets while recording your progress. However, one must ensure they work out without harming their body through workout injuries,” adds the trainer.
Captain Jotham recommends that an individual wishing to grow muscles should focus on exercises that match his or her body type.
One should focus more on strength exercises instead of aerobics or cardio workouts to bulk up.
For one to build shoulder, triceps and chest muscles, Jotham says bench press should be incorporated in a training routine, since the heavier the weight, the more muscle one gains.
Push-ups on the other hand help in building muscles in the arms and shoulders while squats work on quadriceps, especially the thighs. Lunges, he says, are great for bulking and toning legs and the butt.
Minimise cardio exercises
“To gain weight, one needs to minimise aerobic and cardio exercises. They are meant to burn fats and tone muscles and not bulk one up. One should only do them in moderation,” he states.
Ramadhan Okutoyi, also a fitness trainer with Muscle Health and Fitness Centre, says strength exercises improve muscle density, improve balance and decrease joint pains which in turn increases muscle strength, power, size and endurance.
He recommends that one should increase training volume by decreasing set rest intervals to between 20 and 30 seconds as “fatiguing the muscles is a prerequisite and, so don’t be afraid”.
“Your numbers of sets multiplied by number of reps is a primary determinant of how to grow muscles. Lift weight heavy enough to challenge yourself. Even a single set of five reps with heavy enough weight can help build your muscles compared to three sets of lighter weight,” he explains.
On food, Ramadhan explains that one needs to take in more calories than they burn but if an individual gains fats easily, then they should stay on the lower end of the range.
He recommends a diet comprising healthy proteins, complex carbohydrates, full fat dairy and fat-rich fruits such as avocado and nuts.
He reckons that in a perfect scenario with optimal conditions, a body can make 10 grammes of muscle a day or at most 227 grammes a week and so taking in excess calories trying to build muscles will only lead to gaining of excess fat.
The trainer, therefore, advises that eating the right food at the right time is crucial for helping boost muscle mass and the easiest way is by eating breakfast and lunch interspaced with meals post-workouts after every three hours.
“Eat heavy breakfast to help build muscles. It helps give you an immediate burst of energy as it helps you to stay full until your next meal or snack,” he recommends.
As bulking calls for one to eat more food than is burnt to support muscle growth, he says that having protein such as white meat in every meal is important since it is good in building and maintaining muscles.
He advises that an individual should take at least a gramme of protein per 454 grammes of body weight and carbohydrates should ideally be taken after workouts.
“Eat fruits and vegetables with each meal too. Vegetables have low calories so you run no risk of gaining weight. They are also rich in minerals, antioxidants and fibres which help in digestion.”
Eliminate alcohol and smoking
Jotham adds that besides proper and healthy diet, an individual must also eliminate alcohol and smoking as well as get enough sleep of about six to eight hours a night. Sleep helps in reducing stress which can predispose an individual to unhealthy weight gain or even loss of weight.
“When you sleep, the body releases growth hormones which help grow muscles as well as keep the level of stress hormone, cortisone, in check,” he says.
Ramadhan concludes that both nutrition and physical activities are critical for one to gain lean muscles. He cautions that challenge one’s body through physical activities without proper nutritional support only stalls progress.
“If your goal is to gain lean muscles you should focus on exercising regularly and eating more calories each day for muscle building. Also drink water after strength training to help in hydration as dehydration because of sweating can impair muscles recovery.”