Foods, Supplements, and Types of Exercise That Help With Gaining Muscle
Are you hoping to achieve that perfect, muscular body that you can show off all year round?
Then you surely know that muscle gain is impossible without a good exercise regime. But usually, that’s not enough.
In fact, for the best possible results, you need to change your entire lifestyle — and we’ll help you do just that.
Exercise Helps With Quick Muscle Gain
It should come as no surprise that one of the most important things you can do when building muscles is exercise. In fact, without a proper, well-thought-out workout routine, you can’t hope to achieve anything.
But where do you start? How do you figure out what exercises are useful and which you can skip?
While you’ll probably change your workout routine as you learn more, here are a few exercises you should begin with.
The great thing about squats is that you don’t need any equipment whatsoever. All you have to do is stand with your feet shoulder-width apart, put your arms in front of you, and bend your knees. Straighten your back, keep your chest up, and don’t look down. Make sure to go as low as you can, and then stand up and repeat the process. And that’s it — if you do squats every day, you’ll soon notice a difference!
How low to go down for squats? Certain studies suggest that squatting low is beneficial to your health, but Giamo, owner of Trainers in Transit, recommends only lowering it to 90 degrees. She explains that going beyond this point puts too much strain on the knees and quads and doesn’t provide enough leverage to push up with your glutes.
Regardless of your fitness or physique goals, the squat is one of the best exercises you can do. It strengthens your muscles, improves your movement patterns, burns a lot of calories, and builds lower-body power, which is essential for any sport.
However, as simple as the squat seems, there is a correct and incorrect way to perform it. They may wreak havoc on your results or even cause injuries if left uncorrected.
Avoiding these mistakes, on the other hand, can help prevent injuries and discomfort when performing squats:
- Avoid locking your knees. Keep your knees unlocked and bent at a 90-degree angle throughout the squatting motion to avoid knee pain or injury.
- Never bounce at the bottom of a squat; this puts undue strain on your most important joints and may result in injury.
- Sit back into your heels rather than down on your toes; this will help you maintain a neutral spine position and avoid sciatica pain.
As one of the best muscle-building exercises, push-ups work your arms, shoulders, chest, and core. Thus, you should definitely incorporate them into your workout routine and keep them there.
To properly do push-ups, place your hands on the ground and straighten your legs. Start lowering yourself until your chest almost touches the floor and then raise your body back up. As you do that, tense your abs and squeeze your glutes together. At first, you might really struggle, but as time goes by, it should get easier.
Push-ups done incorrectly, on the other hand, can cause problems in the future. Here are some mistakes you must avoid:
- Hand Placement: To target the correct muscles, place your hands perpendicular to your shoulders when performing this exercise. The benefits of the exercise may be reduced if the hands are held incorrectly.
- Unstable Neck: Looking downward while performing the exercise makes going up and down easier. Furthermore, it reduces the effectiveness of the exercise. Besides, it places undue strain on the neck and increases the risk of pain and injury. When doing push-ups, try to keep your neck stable and your eyes forward.
- Saggy Hip: When performing push-ups, you must keep your body aligned. It should be a straight line from tip to toe. Saggy hips are caused primarily by weak or stiff hip muscles. Working on these muscles may assist you in maintaining your posture and targeting the correct set of muscles.
- Pressing Your Hips Towards the Ceiling: Another mistake people do make when performing this full-body exercise is pressing their hips toward the ceiling. They simply push their hips towards the ceiling as they ascend. This makes the exercise easier, but it does not engage your core muscles. It targets the wrong muscle and reduces the exercise’s effectiveness.
- Being Too Fast: Regardless of the exercise, you must complete the repetition correctly. Going too fast may seriously compromise your form and increase your risk of injury and muscle pain. Always perform the exercise at a moderate intensity and with proper form. If your form isn’t correct, increasing the number of repetitions won’t help.
To do weight-lifting exercises, you’ll obviously need to get weights or go to the gym. Still, as any bodybuilder would tell you, if you are serious about gaining muscles, you can’t skip out on weight-lifting. So, grab some weights and start!
You can lift weights in many ways and combine this exercise with dozens of others. In fact, there’s a whole list of things you could do with them. And remember — start slow and gradually add more weight as you get stronger.
However, improper weight lifting techniques and other training mistakes can increase your risk of injury. Here are some common things to avoid when weight lifting.
- Don’t try to push through the pain: Stop lifting weights immediately if you feel any pain. Pain is a warning sign that something is wrong. Repeat the exercise with less weight. Alternatively, postpone the activity until another day.
- Don’t Forget to Warm Up: Warm up the muscles with gentle movement and stretching. You are more prone to injury when your muscles are cold. You only need 5 or 10 minutes of movement to warm up your muscles for your weight training session.
- Don’t Move Too Quickly: Do not rely on momentum to lift the weight. Controlled, unhurried movements are the best way to strengthen the muscle.
When lifting and lowering, use deliberate slow movements to isolate the muscles you’re working on.
Pay Attention to What You Eat
Exercise is crucial for muscle gain, but without a proper diet, it’s not likely to give you the results you want. In fact, eating the right types of food will keep you stronger and more energized, allowing you to work out longer.
But what are the right types of food, you might ask? Well, for the most part, those that are rich in protein. However, that doesn’t mean you should forget about carbs and fats — they are important sources of energy as well.
Here are some foods you should incorporate into your diet if you’re looking to build muscles:
Something as simple as an egg a day can give your body all the nutrients it needs for muscle growth. Eggs contain high-quality protein, leucine, muscle-building amino acid, and healthy fats. On top of that, they are rich in vitamin B, which enhances energy production, and helps decrease fatigue.
Aside from being delicious, lean beef is an excellent source of high-quality protein, amino acids, iron, and zinc. In addition, it contains the same energy-producing vitamin B as eggs, allowing you to work out longer.
However, be careful about the type of beef you choose. To gain muscles, you should pick meat that is rich in proteins but doesn’t have many calories. For instance, choose ground beef that is 95% lean — it contains only 5 grams of fat and 145 calories.
Cheese probably isn’t the first thing that comes to mind when someone mentions muscle-building food. Yet, if you want to increase your protein intake, cottage cheese is just the snack for you. It contains plenty of casein, a protein that promotes and enhances muscle growth.
Aside from casein, you’ll find plenty of other nutrients in cottage cheese — vitamin B12 and calcium, for instance. Choose the type of cottage cheese carefully, though — cream versions usually contain more fat.
Chicken, like beef, is a high-quality protein source., which is necessary for muscle maintenance and repair, bone health, and weight management. And, of course, there are numerous ways to cook and prepare chicken.
If you go to the store, you can easily find chicken meat cut into single serving sizes that can be seasoned and cooked quickly.
Tuna and Other Fish
Fish has a high protein content, a low-fat content, and is high in omega-3 fatty acids. The omega-3 fatty acids are necessary because they aid in fat loss and ensure the proper functioning of your body’s processes, such as your metabolism.
Because of its low glycemic index and minimal processing, oatmeal is an excellent source of carbohydrates. The following are some of the advantages of a low-GI diet:
- Improved micronutrient profile and increased fiber
- Increased satiety
- Reduced hunger
- Lower subsequent energy intake (second meal effect)
- Fat loss
In short, low-GI foods can aid in weight loss by increasing fat loss and providing a steady supply of carbs for muscle preservation.
Whole grains digest faster and contain more nutrients than refined grains. This promotes long-term energy levels as well as overall health.
Brown rice, in particular, can help boost your growth hormone levels, which are necessary for promoting lean muscle growth, fat loss, and strength gains.
Vegetables and fruits
Vegetables and fruits are high in antioxidants, which are necessary for the proper functioning of your immune system.
They also contain a variety of nutrients, including vitamin E, vitamin C, and beta-carotene. Finally, the fiber found in fruits and vegetables is required by your body to aid in digestion and nutrient absorption.
Muscle growth necessitates the consumption of healthy fats.
In fact, they play an important role in producing hormones (testosterone and growth hormones), which helps in muscle growth and strength gains. Furthermore, fats are required for a variety of important maintenance functions.
Polyunsaturated and monounsaturated fats are good fats. They can be found in salmon and other fish, nuts, leafy vegetables, oils like avocados, flaxseed, and seeds. All of them are high in omega-3 and omega-6 fatty acids.
Enhance Your Diet With Supplements
The right kind of diet should provide you with many nutrients you need for muscle gain. But sometimes, if you’re looking for quicker results, you might need to take some supplements as well.
Aside from providing the nutrients that you lack, supplements can enhance your workout routine by reducing fatigue and boosting your energy levels. However, not every supplement on the market is good for muscle growth, so choose wisely. Here are a few that will help you meet your goals:
Occurring naturally in your body, creatine powers up your cells and allows you to blink, chew, and move your muscles. However, when you take creatine supplements, you can increase its levels by 40%, which has numerous positive effects!
In combination with the right exercise, creatine supplements help build lean muscle mass and improve strength. Your blood flow will be better during training, and your muscles will recover faster after. On top of that, creatine may slow down the breakdown of proteins in your body, which, as you know, help muscle growth.
Creatine is a supplement that is both safe and effective for athletes, according to current research. Creatine is certainly worth considering if your goals include increasing strength, improving body composition, or sprinting faster. It also reduces muscle cramps and lowers the core temperature, which can be especially beneficial for CrossFit athletes.
When you work out, your body accumulates a build-up of hydrogen ions, causing your blood to become more acidic. Due to that, you start feeling fatigue, soreness, and eventually even muscle failure.
But when you take beta-alanine, another naturally occurring substance in the body, this process happens much slower. Beta-alanine delays the build-up of these ions, ensuring that your muscles don’t get as tired as quickly. That way, you can work out much longer, and as a result, have higher levels of muscle gain!
According to a study published in the journal Nutrients, supplementing beta-alanine at a clinical dose of 5g per day can increase muscle carnosine concentrations by up to 58 percent in four weeks and 80 percent in ten weeks. Higher carnosine levels mean that muscle fatigue is delayed, allowing for more training and harder workouts.
Research further reveals, beta-alanine has even more advantages. These benefits go beyond simply increasing lean muscle mass.
According to one study, beta-alanine supplementation can also improve athletic performance. According to the same study, it also reduces neuromuscular fatigue. This is accomplished by increasing carnosine levels. This reduces the impact of oxidative stress.
Muscle fatigue can be reduced, allowing you to work out longer and harder. It prepares you for increased muscle endurance. This is true even during more intense physical activities because your muscles can endure more, your exercise capacity increases.
You’ve certainly seen bodybuilders and weightlifters carry protein shakes everywhere they go. As it happens, it’s not just a trend in their community — protein shakes actually help increase muscle mass and speed up recovery after exercise. And no protein is better than whey protein!
Aside from the already mentioned benefits, whey protein also decreases appetite and contains more leucine than other proteins. All of that makes it a crucial supplement for those who are looking to gain some muscles.
A 2018 analysis of 49 studies found that protein supplementation can help with this. According to the study, protein supplements significantly improve muscle size and strength in healthy adults who engage in resistance exercise training, such as weight lifting.
Muscle gain may not be easy, but now that you know what you have to do, you can at least take your first steps. What matters the most is that you persevere — even if you don’t always feel like you’re making progress. Eventually, it will all pay off!