Lean Muscle Development / Supplementation
So summer is nearly here again and it’s time to shed those winter woollies and focus on lean muscle development, so that you can look and feel your best this summer.
This means getting active and out of the house, as well as rethinking some of those winter comfort foods. The best way to develop lean muscle mass is to find a healthy balance between diet and exercise. Whether you are skinny, overweight or have an average build, the key is finding out the right combination that works best for you.
In order to develop lean muscle mass, the body needs both the building materials required and also the energy to use them. That’s why if you are aiming to build lean muscle, it is important that you are eating a balanced diet that is high in all the essential nutrients needed. These include complete proteins, complex carbohydrates, vitamins, minerals and healthy fats.
Complete proteins such as lean meats, nuts, seeds, beans, dairy and soy products are essential to the production of muscle tissue, because muscle is primarily made from protein.
Complex carbohydrates such as wholegrain breads, whole grain pastas, beans, brown rice and green leafy vegetables are essential in providing the production of muscle tissue. The body turns complex carbohydrates into glycogen, which is used as the energy source needed for all bodily functions, including building muscle tissue.
Healthy fats are essential to building muscles tissue, and foods such as seeds, nuts, avocados, salmon, olive oil and eggs are excellent sources that should be included in a healthy diet.
Vitamins and minerals are important in any diet. To ensure that you are getting all the different vitamins and minerals that you need, it is a good idea to eat a variety of different fruits and vegetables. Different colours often signify different nutrients, so try to incorporate a colourful range in your diet.
It is also very important that you keep hydrated by drinking plenty of water, because muscle tissue is made up of 76% water, so you need it to build it!
Generally speaking if you are eating a balanced diet, that is focused towards your goals, then you will be receiving all the nutrients you need. However sometimes your body needs a little extra help getting all the nutrients required to build and maintain muscle mass. There are many different supplements available that promote different aspects of lean muscle mass development. The most commonly used being whey protein, which promotes protein synthesis, so if you are putting the hard work in, this will help you build your muscle mass.
You don’t have to be a bodybuilder to know that exercise is essential to building and maintaining muscle. What you might not be aware of though, is that the type of exercise needed really depends on your body type and your specific goals. If you are overweight and you wish to lose weight, as well as build lean muscle mass, then cardio will be an important part of your workout regime. If you are quite slim and you only wish to put on lean muscle mass, then cardio will be lower on your workout priorities as it will use up a lot of the nutrients you are getting from your food and leave you with less building materials to work with.
That doesn’t mean you should miss out on it all together though! Studies show that short bursts of high intensity cardio not only reduces body fat, but also help preserve muscle mass and increase muscle tone. So if you are slimmer in build, try keeping your cardio down to 3-4 times per week and aim for 20 minutes each time. If you are aiming to lose weight as well as build muscle then it’s a good idea to participate in at least 20 minutes of cardio every day.
In order to gain muscle mass there is one key point to remember, if you aren’t working hard, then it probably isn’t working! No matter what part of your body you are working on, you need to be pushing yourself and gradually increasing the weight or resistance that you are using in order to gain muscle mass. Aim for about 80% of what it would take to complete your one-rep Max, and then stretch yourself for a count of 10-12 reps. This will ensure that you are not only stressing your muscles enough so that they repair and rebuild better and stronger, but it will also ensure you are not straining yourself. Equipment, such as slam balls, are a fantastic way of safely stressing your muscles so that they can rebuild better and stronger.
Remember not to underestimate the importance of rest days. They are not just to give you a break so you don’t feel sore, the muscles need this time to actually rebuild and repair themselves. So make sure that you rest the different areas of the body for a day or two after focusing on them, and ensure you get enough sleep each day.
With a carefully considered plan of attack and a balanced exercise and diet plan, you will soon have your body in peak condition, ready for the warm weather. Plus, if you go about it the right way you will be able to maintain it all year round!