You can only build muscle if your body is in the correct anabolic balance to allow growth to take place. Intensive exercise is clearly an important part of the muscle building process but achieving the maximum muscle mass depends on putting the building blocks in place. This is achieved through sound nutritional practices so you need to be aware of the following anabolic enhancing principles:
1. Protein is the basic raw material needed to build muscle. Protein supplies the amino acids that the body uses to repair and build muscle following intensive exercise. Aim to consume 1 to 1.5 grams of protein per pound of body weight each day from food like beef, fish, poultry, eggs, milk and whey. Spread the load over at least six meals to derive the optimum benefit and avoid overloading the liver.
2. Carbohydrates are needed to energize the muscle building process. Carbohydrates stimulate the release of insulin which pushes the amino acids into muscle cells to begin the process of repair. The body uses carbohydrates as a source of energy – consume too little and the body will steal protein that would otherwise be used for repairing and building muscle. Aim to consume 1.5 to 2 grams of carbohydrate per pound of body weight each day from foods like potatoes, pasta, rice, vegetables and whole wheat bread.
3. Boost your calories. Unless your main aim is to reduce fat you need a positive caloric balance if you want to build muscle. Make sure that your daily calorie intake is 10% higher than your energy expenditure for daily maintenance and that the calories are acquired from a diet characterised by a ratio of 50% carbohydrates, 40% proteins and 10% fat.
4. Get plenty of rest both in terms of adequate rest days between training sessions and sufficient sleep. Your muscles won’t grow if you don’t build adequate recovery time into your training program. Similarly, you can only optimize your body’s levels of testosterone and growth hormone if you spend enough time sleeping.
5. Consume quality supplements to support a sound nutritious diet. For most people it should be enough to add whey protein, creatine and l-glutamine to your daily diet.
6. Don’t overdo the aerobic exercise. Your aim is to increase muscle mass therefore you don’t want to burn excessive calories that could be utilised for bulking up.
7. Drink plenty of water. Failure to drink sufficient quantities of water will lead to dehydration and adversely affect your muscle mass. Don’t forget that muscle is 70% water so a generous intake will maintain muscle volume and help growth.