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How To Build Muscle and Gain Healthy Weight

Updated on September 29, 2012

Building Muscle is Simple

Just about every guy wants more muscle, and there's numerous explanations for this. Whether it's to get sexier, look more intimidating, identify with cultural icons or whatever, we all would like to get more muscular. The problem is that there's so much information out there that most guys get lost somewhere between the hype and the myths. Well I'm here to help you find your way to a better physique minus the headaches and dead end streets. Building muscle the right way requires you to think about three things: what you eat, what you supplement, and how you train.


#1: What You Eat

Don't take what you eat lightly. Chances are, your eating habits can and will determine how much success you have when it comes to getting big, ripped, sexy muscles. It takes a little discipline, planning and practice, but pretty soon you'll be making quick, easy foods that give you the right kind of energy to build muscle, along with the right proteins and fats.

Energy comes from carbs, and the right kind of energy comes from complex timing. Eating your fruit 45 to 60 minutes before working out is the best method; this gives you natural energy for your workout without over-loading you metabolism (which results in fat storage and muscle-inhibiting hormone regulation). Avoid eating carbs late in the day, no later than 4 o'clock in the afternoon. Some weight loss guides advise not eating carbs after 1 pm, but you're not trying to lose weight, you're trying to build muscle. Good carbs are very important because you need energy to put your body in a "muscle-building state" called an anabolic state. Consistently eat these good carbs and avoid sugars, and you'll be on your way to more muscle.

Proteins are often emphasized at the expense of carbs, but each are vitally important to build muscle. Your sources of protein need to be lean, chicken, fish, eggs, and lean steak. Eggs can be prepared just about any way you like, while meats really need to be grilled. You need protein with every meal. The body doesn't really storeprotein, it uses what it needs and then gets rid of the rest. For this reason it's not necessary to eat tons of protein at one sitting. 50 grams is adequate for most guys after working out, and 30 grams will do the trick at other times of the day. You will get much more out of your foods if you eat 5 to 7 moderate-sized meals per day instead of 3 large ones. Also, you need the constant nutrition that 5 to 7 meals provide, if you want to build muscle. It has been said that you need to consume about 1 gram of protein per pound that you weigh. That is pretty accurate, although slightly more than one gram won't hurt. At 180 pounds, I usually aim for a daily protein intake of 180 to 200 grams.

Fats are often misconstrued as always unhealthy and, well, fattening. This isn't true, your body needs healthy fats and the right amount won't make you fat. You need to be getting your fats from nuts (walnuts, pistachios, and almonds are healthiest), oils (like 100% extra-virgin olive oil), and avocado. Fish is also a very healthy source of fats, hosting omega-3 fatty acids.

#2 What You Supplement

Supplements are a tricky issue. It's common to think that if you have all the right supplements, building muscle will be easy. That's not true. Building muscle will take some time and work, and all the supplements in the world can't change that. In fact, the better you eat and the harder you work in the gym, the more assistance you'll get from the supplements you're taking. Let's start with whey. Whey is a common type of protein that comes in two forms; isolate and concentrate. I've had success with both. Designed to be absorbed and utilized quickly, whey is an excellent choice for right after you get out of bed in the morning and as a post-workout supplement. If you can't take anything else, take whey protein. The opposite of whey is casein, a slow-absorbing protein that is great for right before bed. Casein provides your muscle tissue with amino-acids to prevent muscle-wasting in the middle of the night; a very important task due to the fact that you havn't eaten in hours if you're in the bed. Creatine is our next supplement, one that has the potential to make a big difference. Creatine, simply put, enhances muscle function and can improve the quality of your workouts and over-all health of your muscles. It can be contraindicated in large quantities though, due to its stress on the kidneys. Amino acid supplementation is next. Glutamine is the most common amino acid in your muscle tissue and is vital in the recovery of muscle. 12 to 15 grams per day is recommended for serious lifters. The last supplement we'll discuss is BCAAs, or branched-chain amino acids. Similar to glutamine, BCAAs help tremendously with muscle recovery and recuperation, along with muscle health.

# 3: How You Train

Finally to the real stuff! Yeah, well keep in mind what you do in the gym is only as good as how you eat and how smart you supplement. Think of these 3 aspects as individual links in a chain, with the chain representing the goals you have for muscle-building. If one of these links is missing or weak, the whole chain suffers. If you skipped the eating and supplementation sections of this article, do yourself a favor and return to them first. They're in this order for a reason.

Alright, here we go. Train the big muscle groups. These groups will help you stimulate your metabolism andhormone secretion; hormones like testosterone that will help you build muscle. If you want more information on this aspect of muscle-building, I suggest one of my other articles called: "Building Muscle Naturally Through Hormone Regulation". Squats, deadlifts and lunges are your go-to exercises to boost hormone levels and illicit muscle gains throughout the body. The leg press is also a good exercise, although it's not a primary move. Upper body exercises need to vary between push, pull, and twist (or abdominal) movements. Push typically targets chest, pull incorporates back, and twisting hits the abs. Isolation exercises include bicep, tricep, deltoid, and certain movements which isolate muscle groups, like the fly. Several of your pushes are often referred to as a "press", as in bench press or dumbbell press. The pulling, or back exercises include pull-ups, rows, and the lat pull down. I cannot over-emphasize the importance of planning your workouts ahead of time. You need to have at least 1 to 2 weeks planned out with variation from day to day and between upper body workouts and lower body workouts. Switching things up prevents your muscles from growing accustomed to the same routines and can make a tremendous difference in your muscle-building success. Once again, I'll refer you to another article of mine entitled "Debunking Midsection Myths". This piece not only discusses getting a ripped midsection but also includes an in-depth discussion of adding variety to your workouts to avoid hitting a plateau.

I know this information will help you build the strong, sexy frame you're looking for. I've added some supplements to this page that have helped me. Good luck.

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    • jclaffee profile image
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      Jesse Claffee 5 years ago from Winston-Salem, NC

      lindiesl: You know what, you're right! Stay posted for another, more specific hub. Until then remember that the same, basic rules apply. Don't be afraid of getting bulky or chunky. If you're exercising the right way you can put on muscle that compliments your female frame. Keep your number of repititions high and the amount of weight you workout with low; this will keep you lean and put on muscle simultaneously. I'll let you know when my hub gets posted. Thanks for you comment.

    • lindiesl profile image

      Lindie 5 years ago from Pennsylvania

      You responded to one of my weight gain questions but what about females? I know, most females don't really want to gain weight but I am a small frame 5'2" 102lbs and would like to gain 10-15lbs but in a healthy way. I know that a woman's body is very differ. then a mans and they don't respond the same way. Other than protein and calorie intake what else would you recommend? Might make for another good hub. ;)