April 2022. This article is independently written by Shelby Golding. All opinions given are hers. Shelby has been certified as a personal trainer and nutritional specialist since 2007. In 2008, she found her passion for writing about these topics and hasn't looked back.
Muscle loss leads to disability, frailty, and instability as you age. In addition, muscle loss leads to increased falls in the elderly and poor balance. Building and maintaining muscle as you age is crucial for maintaining your health.
You may know instinctively that building muscle is essential for your workout success but struggle to know where you should start. Keep reading for three easy ways to build muscle to incorporate into any workout routine.
3 Easy Ways to Build Muscle for Beginners
1. Protein, Protein, Protein
When you exercise, you create tiny tears in the fiber of your muscles. These tears cause you to feel sore when you've done a particularly strenuous workout. Protein helps rebuild those torn muscle fibers, making them stronger than before the workout.
2. Increase Lifting Volume
Weightlifting uses targeted sets to work specific muscles. Some exercises, like squats, work multiple muscles at once, including your glutes, quads, and core. You do several repetitions (reps) and sets based on your ability and goals.
Once you've mastered the basics, you will want to increase lifting volume steadily. This means adding the number of reps and sets you do. Lifting volume = reps x sets. Say you start off doing three sets of six squats. In addition to steadily increasing the weight, you will want to do more sets and more reps as you get stronger. If you have been lifting for a few months without seeing any changes to your muscles, you probably need to increase both weight and lifting volume.
Your muscles are highly adaptable. Once you start weightlifting, your muscles will adjust to the new weight in two to four weeks. You may even begin noticing changes to the size and shape of your muscles in that same amount of time!
If you are feeling like you want to try weightlifting but don’t know where to start, ask your gym for a personal training session to get you started!
3. Get Plenty of Sleep
During sleep, your hormones are hard at work. Both men and women require testosterone to build muscle. This hormone is responsible for muscle mass, strength, and bone density. Studies show that sleep disturbances and duration severely affect the body's testosterone production.
Human growth hormone (HGH) is also released during rapid eye movement (REM) sleep. REM sleep is the deep sleep state that occurs when you are dreaming. On average, adults experience 3 to 6 REM cycles throughout the night for about 90 minutes.
HGH helps muscle growth and reduces the amount of the stress hormone cortisol in the body. When cortisol levels are high, muscle protein synthesis slows down. As a result, your body will find it more difficult to create muscle, and your progress will be slowed. Unfortunately, stress can affect sleep quality. You may need to add in other relaxation practices such as mindfulness or meditation to help you get the rest you need.
If you want to gain muscle fast, you need to put as much time and attention into your sleep schedule as your workout routines. A few ways to improve your sleep are shutting off electronics a couple of hours before bed, going to bed at the same time each night, and avoiding caffeine or alcohol.
Exercise for Long-Term Benefits
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