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  • Writer's pictureSpencer Smith

How To Build Muscle, Part I

In my last post, I discussed how you should eat to lose weight, burn fat, or just be generally healthy (or all 3, depending on your goals). But what about building muscle? In my experience, for every person who comes to the gym to gain muscle, there are at least 4 or 5 who are there to lose weight. But still, some of you want to know how to grow strong shoulders, big biceps, or hips that don’t lie. If this is you, and you want some guidance, continue reading.

Calories… Again

First, just like losing weight, what you eat plays an important role in putting on muscle. If consuming less calories is the key to weight loss, then you must eat MORE to gain weight, right? Right. So eat more food. Preferably nutrient dense foods, such as lean meats, starches, healthy fats, fruits and veggies, etc. Make sure you eat enough protein, carbs, and fats to fuel yourself properly and gain muscle but not fat.

But how much is enough? Find your maintenance level of calories — your base metabolism plus all daily activities and exercise —  then add a few hundred extra calories of healthy fats, fruits or starches. Also make sure you consume about a gram of lean protein per pound of your bodyweight (or lean body mass, if we’re being exact) to make sure you gain lean mass (cause no one wants to gain body fat). Easier said than done, I know, but anything worth doing takes effort.

Sleeping Beauty

Another simple way to help you build muscle is something too many people undervalue or overlook — SLEEP. Getting 7-8 hours (maybe more) of quality, uninterrupted sleep at night is crucial for your body to grow. Think back to when you were a kid (or if you have kids). How much did you sleep when your body was primarily focused on growth? 9,10, or sometimes 12 hours in a day. And not just light nap times, I’m talking deep sleep. During that time, your body produces human growth hormone and repairs the muscles that you have used throughout the day, including at the gym.

Optimize the quality and length of your rest times by keeping the environment cool, quiet (use a noise machine if it helps), and dark. Don’t look at electronic screens right before you go to bed. Try to minimize bathroom breaks and other interruptions. Think peaceful thoughts. Whatever it takes to help you get enough deep sleep, so that you wake feeling rested and refreshed. This is a vital component of muscle growth (and general health), so make sure you get adequate rest.

If you have some more questions, go to our website and schedule a FREE No Sweat Intro, then you can let me know how I can help you reach your goals. But if you already have both your eating and sleeping habits locked down, then check back next time for some tips on how to train for muscle growth.

Spencer Smith

Owner & Head Coach

CrossFit Donelson

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