Build muscle, build strength.
For those wondering how to build muscle, wonder no longer. By following these simple guidelines you’ll tighten, tone, and increase your strength. And women, you don’t need worry about bulking up to man-size proportions. Strength training has that effect on males, but not on females.
Contrary to what you may believe, strength training isn’t only for bodybuilders.
It should be a regular part of everyone’s exercise routine. Besides adding muscle mass, strength training comes with a host of other benefits. It protects the health of muscles and bones, reduces the risk of injury, helps control blood sugar, eases the aches and pains of aging, defines muscles, and burns calories.
It’s easy to be intimidated by the weight room at your gym. Muscular bodies and special equipment can scare people away. Take advantage of the knowledge offered by your personal trainer and schedule a one-on-one weight-training session to overcome your fear of weights. And if you’re new to strength training, keep these tips in mind.
Get Acquainted with Weights
Building muscle is done by using some sort of resistance. This may be in the form of your own body weight, free weights, weight machines, cables, or resistance bands.
Beginners should start slow and small to avoid injury and excessive soreness. Aim to do several sets of 8 to 10 repetitions or reps (a rep is completion of a single range of motion) of each exercise, resting a few minutes between each set. Each week, increase the amount of weight to challenge your muscles.
Give Your Muscles Rest
When you push your muscles to work harder than usual, tiny tears form in the muscle tissue. Tearing your muscles sounds scary, but it’s both normal and essential to grow in strength and stamina. As these tears heal and repair themselves, new muscle fibers grow. It’s important to give your muscles a day or two to rest and rebuild between workouts to avoid injury.
Many people like to alternate cardio and strength-training days. For example, Monday, Wednesday, and Friday are cardio days and Tuesday, Thursday, and Saturday are focused on strength training. Then, alternate the muscle groups you work so your muscles have even more time to recover. Tuesday focus on your chest, shoulders, and back; Thursday go with legs and gluteals, and Saturday focus on your arms and abs.
Eat for Your Muscles
When you’re planning to strength train, you ‘ll need to feed your muscles with the right foods. Building strong muscles requires a healthy balance of energy, protein, fats, vitamins, and minerals. You won’t be able to increase your muscle mass if you cut too many calories or if you fill up on sweets and junk.
Protein is especially helpful for building new cells. Weightlifters who are serious about gaining strength and muscle should aim to eat two grams of protein each day for every pound they weigh. So, a person weighing 175 should eat 350 grams of protein. Good sources of protein include cheese, protein shakes, protein bars, nuts, eggs, and meat.
Before and after working out, fuel your muscles with a snack that includes both carbs and protein. Examples of workout snacks include a whole-wheat chicken wrap, trail mix, an apple and cheese, peanut butter crackers, or a protein bar.
Hydrate Your Muscles
Being even a little dehydrated can hamper your performance at the gym. Don’t wait until right before your workout to hydrate, but drink water throughout the day as well as before, during, and after your workout so your muscles have the hydration they need to function best. If your workout lasts longer than an hour, a sports drink may be helpful to restore your electrolyte balance.