Commitment + Clinical Leadership = Better Outcomes
Tips to Build Muscle
When many people think of the benefits of working out, they may associate it with building muscle mass. Building muscle can make a positive impact on your body, physique, and ability to perform many different daily activities.
You use your muscles each day to perform many tasks, from walking to picking up objects. However, for some people it can feel as if it’s a daunting or difficult task to try to build muscle. They might have never tried working out before, or may be afraid to try weight exercises that they are unfamiliar with.
Here are some reasons why building muscle can benefit your health. We also cover how the muscle building process works, as well as some tips to help you safely build muscle mass.
What are the Benefits of Building Muscle?
There are many health benefits of building muscle mass, including1:
- Better joint support. Muscles work as a support system to your joints. The more muscle you have, the more force gets absorbed from exertion, saving your joints from wear-and-tear damage. Additionally, when your muscles are too weak to exert force, your joints may break or tear since they can’t handle the impact alone.
- Stronger bones. Putting force on your bones is good to help them stay strong. Your muscles are attached to your bones by tendons. Putting extra pressure on your muscles causes the tendon to pull on the bone, which can stimulate bone growth. Bone mass decreases as you age, so it’s important to keep your bones strong, and building muscle is a good way to do so.2
- Maintaining blood levels. Your muscles use glucose and fatty acids for fuel, which keeps your blood sugar levels low and stabilized. As your muscles work throughout the day, they use the glucose and fatty acids stored in the body. And as a result, this can lower your blood sugar levels.
- Burning calories. Increasing your muscle mass increases your metabolism, which can help you burn more calories throughout the day. With more muscle, your body burns more calories at rest. For example, a pound of muscle burns about 13 calories a day, whereas a pound of fat only burns less than 5 calories a day.
How to Gain Muscle
Now that you know some of the great benefits of building muscle, you may be interested in learning more about how to gain muscle.
Building muscle is not something that happens overnight. It takes time, commitment, and dedication to build healthy habits that lead to larger muscle mass. It’s also important to ensure you’re building muscle in a safe and healthy way. If you have any questions about building muscle and the safest way to do so, talk to a medical professional or certified trainer.
The Process of Building Muscle
Your skeletal muscles are a series of fibers that contract, which allows your body to move every day. Your body is constantly renewing and recycling amino acids, also known as the protein building blocks, in your muscles. Your body needs 20 different amino acids to function properly, with 9 of these being essential amino acids that can only be obtained by eating certain foods. Protein usually contains amino acids, with each protein containing different sequences of amino acids that help the body carry out bodily functions, from repairing body tissue to making hormones and brain chemicals.3
If your body removes more protein than what is added back into your body, you will lose muscle mass. However, if you body gains more protein than it removes, you build muscle.
The accurate calculation to build muscle is simply to increase protein while decreasing protein breakdown.4 This process is known as muscular hypertrophy. Hypertrophy is an increase and growth of muscle cells, which increases your muscle size. Strength training is the most common way to achieve muscular hypertrophy.5
Although resistance training is important when it comes to muscular hypertrophy, the overall nutrients and protein you’re consuming plays a role as well. Your body needs nutrients and protein to perform protein synthesis.
Protein synthesis is the creation of protein molecules. Polypeptide chains are made when the amino acids form different combinations in your body’s cells. This process is how muscle fibers repair themselves and as the process takes place over and over again, your muscle mass will increase.6
Tips to Build Muscle
Here are some tips on how to gain muscle.7
- Training. Strength training, also known as resistance training, is the primary type of training used to build muscle mass. This kind of training may involve weights, equipment, or body weight alone. This training essentially stresses the muscles past their limits and triggers a process known as metabolic stress, which damages muscle fibers. The healing process of your muscles rebuilding themselves is what causes muscle growth.
- Increase training volume. Consistently progressing is what allows your muscles to grow. Your training volume, the number of reps multiplied by the number of sets you perform in your workout, should slowly increase over time. This will allow you to intensify your workouts once your muscles get used to a certain weight or number or reps. If you consistently remain at the same weight and number of reps, your muscle growth will plateau.8
- Have a plan. If you want to build muscle, it’s important to go into the gym with a plan. Just as there is not one diet that works for everyone, there is not one specific workout routine that will work for everyone. Make a plan that you can stick to that involves muscle fatigue and muscle damage: the muscles repairing themselves is what stimulates growth.
- Focus on “splits.” Dividing your workouts into “splits ” will help you target certain muscles on dedicated days. A split will ensure you can properly focus on each muscle group throughout your week. For example, a push day that might focus on pushing movements such as a bench press, and a pull day that might focus on movements such as a deadlift.9
- Nutrition. A clean and healthy diet is crucial when it comes to building muscle. A good mixture of protein, carbohydrates, and fat play a role in your body’s ability to grow muscle. Carbs serve as a source of energy, while also providing essential nutrients such as vitamins, minerals, and fiber. Fat gives you energy and helps your body produce hormones that are needed to build muscle.
- Protein. Protein promotes muscle recovery. Protein is made of amino acids that stimulate protein synthesis while your cells work together to regenerate muscle fibers. It’s important to ensure you’re consuming more protein than what your body is breaking down in order to build muscle. Some good sources of protein include lean meat, eggs, fish, dairy products, grains, and beans.10
- Do the math. Building muscle can sometimes be a tricky equation. It’s helpful to know how many calories you need to consume to maintain your weight, which will look different for every person. Then, you will want to increase your caloric intake by 100-300 more calories. This will help you gain weight, but alongside strength training and the proper protein consumption, it will go towards building muscle mass. You should also figure out your exact macronutrient breakdown, which is a measure of how much protein, carbs, and fat you should be eating based on your fitness goals. You can keep a journal to keep track of your macros.
- Recovery. Getting enough rest is essential when you are trying to gain muscle mass. Adequate sleep helps the body’s cells enter a phase of repair and rejuvenation. Rest is also important to ensure you’re not overworking your muscles and joints. Building muscle should be challenging, but not painful. If you need a day or two to help your muscles recover, allow your body to rest.11
If you’re not sure where to start, make sure to consult with a doctor to discuss building muscle.
Build Muscle Today
We encourage you to try these tips to build muscle today. If you’re not sure about your limitations or have a health concern, check with a medical professional first about safe exercises to build muscle.
Here at Saber Healthcare, our physical therapy departments utilize our exclusive Progressive Approach to Home (PATH) program to customize treatment plans for each individual. Our physical therapists help residents regain strength and mobility, while increasing coordination and endurance.
Saber Healthcare is an organization that provides services to more than 115 buildings across the states of Ohio, Pennsylvania, Virginia, North Carolina, Indiana, Delaware, and Florida. To learn more about our company and services, click here.
Saber Healthcare is an organization dedicated to providing consultant services to long-term care providers. This article is for informational purposes and is not meant to be seen as professional advice. Please consult with a medical expert before relying on the information provided.
- Campbell, Adam and Boly, Jake. “10 Muscle-Building Fundamentals You Need to Learn.” Hearst Magazine Media, menshealth.com. December 15th, 2022. Accessed February 20th, 2023. https://www.menshealth.com/fitness/a19534499/10-muscle-building-tips/.
- Donovan, Skye. “7 Reasons to Build Muscle That Have Nothing to Do With Looks.” U.S. News & World Report, health.usnews.com. March 18th, 2016. Accessed February 20th, 2023. https://health.usnews.com/health-news/blogs/eat-run/articles/2016-03-18/7-reasons-to-build-muscle-that-have-nothing-to-do-with-looks.
- “Amino Acids.” Cleveland Clinic, clevelandclinic.org. Accessed March 1st, 2023. https://my.clevelandclinic.org/health/articles/22243-amino-acids.
- “Protein Calculator: How Much Protein Do I Need?” BodyBuilding.com. Accessed February 22nd, 2023. https://www.bodybuilding.com/fun/calpro.htm.
- Bubnis, Daniel. “Muscular Hypertrophy and Your Workout.” Healthline Media, healthline.com. February 26th, 2019. Accessed February 20th, 2023. https://www.healthline.com/health/muscular-hypertrophy.
- Knapp, Sarah. “Protein Synthesis.” Biology Dictionary, biologydictionary.net. July 18th, 2020. Accessed March 1st, 2023. https://biologydictionary.net/protein-synthesis/.
- Corleone, Jill. “6 Tips for Building and Maintaining Muscle.” Dotdash Meredith, verywellfit.com. September 21st, 2022. Accessed February 20th, 2023. https://www.verywellfit.com/top-tips-for-building-muscle-3498594.
- Fetters, Aleisha. “9 Scientifically Proven Ways to Grow Muscle Fast.” Spartan Race Inc, spartan.com. Accessed February 22nd, 2023. https://www.spartan.com/blogs/unbreakable-nutrition/grow-muscle.
- O’Reilly, Anthony. “What You Need To Know About How To Build Muscle.” BarBend, barbend.com. February 17th, 2023. Accessed February 22nd, 2023. https://barbend.com/how-to-build-muscle/.
- Rifkin, Melissa. “The Best Nutrition Tips for Muscle Growth.” Dotdash Meredith, verywellfit.com. May 17th, 2022. Accessed February 20th, 2023. https://www.verywellfit.com/are-you-eating-for-muscle-3121316.
- Tavel, Rachel. “6 Expert Tips for Building Muscle.” Forbes Media, forbes.com. January 4th, 2023. Accessed February 20th, 2023. https://www.forbes.com/health/body/how-to-build-muscle/.