The Basics of #Gains
Do you have a goal to make #gains? Start by understanding the science of muscle growth. Creating habits in and out of the gym that feed your body’s needs can maximize your strength-building potential. To build muscle is a simple process: Muscle damage, muscle repair and fuel. Let’s break down exactly what that means so you can kickstart your fitness journey.
How Do Muscles Grow?
Muscles grow through tissue damage and repair. Exercising through resistance training causes muscle fibers to undergo trauma and become damaged. The breakdown of muscle is called catabolism. When the muscles breakdown, satellite cells become activated to repair and fortify the muscle fibers that need assistance. The repair and re-growth of muscle tissue is called anabolism.
The process results in a strengthened muscle unit, capable of supporting greater weight than it could before. Essentially, meet your Muscles 2.0. They’re bigger, stronger and can take on heavier loads now.
Why Resistance Training is Important
Hitting the weights may feel more intimidating than a jog on the treadmill, but resistance training is the most effective way to grow your muscles. Any exercise that causes muscles to contract against an external resistance with the goal to increase strength, tone, mass and endurance qualifies as resistance training. When it comes to this exercise, you can decide your weapon of choice. Whether you opt for dumbbells, resistance bands, body weight or machines, any movement that causes your muscles to contract qualifies.
Remember how muscles grow through damage and repair? When muscles contract during resistance training, they undergo microscopic tears and damage to the muscle cells. Muscles must undergo damage before they can be repaired and grow stronger. Lifting weights to get those muscles working is the safest way to cause that damage, and properly fueling your body is the best way to help your muscles repair and grow.
Feed Your Muscles
When it comes to getting in shape and growing your muscles, diet is just as important as exercise (if not more). Good nutrition can help you power through workouts and support muscle repair and growth.
How Protein Helps to Build Muscle
You’ve heard it before; protein is essential to build muscle. In fact, it is recommended protein account for roughly 35% of your daily caloric intake. A good rule of thumb is to incorporate about 1 gram of protein per pound of body weight into your diet. For example, an adult weighing 150lbs should aim for 150 grams of protein in their daily diet.
Why exactly is protein the key to building muscle? Protein is made of amino acids, busy little compounds that play a main role in many reactions and processes in your body. When you eat protein, your body breaks it down into amino acids and uses them to repair the muscle damage caused by resistance training. They surround and fill the tear, making your muscle bigger and stronger than it was before.
Carbs and Muscle Building
Muscle building is no easy task, and your body requires fuel to make gains. This is when carbs come in clutch. A high carbohydrate intake essentially creates an energy stockpile for your body. When muscles grow, they need to fill with glycogen. Glycogen is the collection of carbohydrates stored in muscles that fuel your training and help with anabolism (muscle repair).
If you’re aiming to see major muscle growth, make sure you eat slightly more carbohydrates than you burn. This will maintain the glycogen supply and give your body the fuel it needs to undergo change and growth.
When choosing which carbs to snack on, reach for nutrient-dense options like sweet potatoes, quinoa and whole grain bread. Remember you are eating to fuel your body, and a higher quality fuel will yield better results!
Fats and Muscle Building
In the world of fitness, “fat” has earned a bad reputation. When your goal is to grow leaner and stronger, reaching for low-fat and non-fat choices seems to make sense. However, you still need a decent amount of healthy fats to boost your metabolism and keep your hormones functioning properly. In fact, a fat-free diet can hinder muscle growth in a highly active individual. Aim for about 25-30% of your daily caloric intake to be healthy fats.
When planning your diet, keep in mind the difference between healthy fats and “bad” fats. Foods with trans fat are much more likely to cause cholesterol and heart issues. Opt for healthier fats in foods like avocado, Greek yogurt, nuts, chia seeds and salmon.
Make Nutrition Easy with Healthy Snacks
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