8 Tips for Gaining Lean Muscle Mass
Are you aiming to build strong lean muscle? Well, there are certainly plenty of foods that can help you with that. And our muscle gain meal prep plans are designed to give you plenty of nutrient rich and protein packed meals, delivered to your door, leaving you without the stress of knowing what food to buy and cook each week.
As well as some muscle gain meal prep, there are plenty of other ways you can help your body to develop more muscle. Whether you have a specific goal or you just want to fill out a t-shirt some more, you need to start somewhere.
So, we’ve got 10 tips for you right here, which can you get off to a great start on your journey to gaining lean muscle mass, even if you’ve struggled to put muscle on in the past…
#1 – Build more proteins
Essentially, the more protein you store in your body, through a process called protein synthesis, the more muscle mass you will be able to build. Your body is in a constant cycle of using up its protein reserves for other uses, such as making hormones. As a result, you’ll have less protein available for muscle gain. This is why it’s crucial to build and store new proteins faster than your body breaks down old ones.
The most effective way to build and store new proteins is to consume more protein rich food. Ideally you need to aim for approximately 1 gram of protein per pound of body weight, which is about the maximum amount your body can use in one day.
For example, say you weigh around 160 pounds, you should therefore be consuming approximately 160 grams of protein per day. Then you simply split the rest of your daily calories equally between carbohydrates and fats.
#2 – Start eating more
Speaking of consuming more protein, the next tip is simple for those seeking to gain more lean muscle mass – and it’s simply to eat more. As well as getting added protein into your muscle gain meal prep, you need more overall calories as well.
There are steps you can take to work out the number of extra calories you need to consume daily, in order to gain around 1 pound a week.
- First work out how much you weigh in pounds.
- Times this by 12, and this figure will give you your basic calorie requirement.
- Times the basic calorie number by 1.6, as this will help you estimate how many calories you burn without exercising, known as your resting metabolic rate.
Once you’ve got these figures you can then get into your exercise calculations:
- For more effective weight training results, multiply the number of minutes you lift weights per week by 5.
- Also multiply the number of minutes you do aerobic exercises (running, cycling etc) per week by 8.
- Add these two numbers together – and then divide the total by 7 to get your optimal exercise figure.
- Add together your resting metabolic rate figure – and your optimal exercise figure – to get your daily calorie needs figure.
- Finally add an extra 500 onto you daily calorie needs figure. This will give you the estimated daily calorie requirement you need to hit, to gain 1 pound a week.
Physio, PT and Mens Physique Champion, Josh Bryant, has this to say:
“To gain muscle you muscle be in a calorie surplus with a well-balanced diet. Keep an eye on fat gain, if you notice you are gaining fat quickly then you’re probably eating too much. Avoid eating in a huge calorie surplus with unhealthy food as this will lead to fat gain.”
#3 – Focus on building your bigger muscles
When you’re just starting out, most workouts will be intense enough to encourage protein synthesis. If you used to weight training and you’ve been doing it for a while, then focusing on your largest muscle groups will give you faster results. Target your biggest muscles, such as your chest, back, and legs when lifting.
You also need to start doing deadlifts, squats, pullups, bench presses and military presses etc. It’s best to do 2 to 3 sets of these exercises, of 8 to 12 repetitions. Give yourself about 60 seconds of rest between each set. Doing reps like these will help to increase hypertrophy, which is the natural process that helps you achieve greater muscle size.
#4 – Realise the importance of rest days
As part of your weight training and full-body workout routine, you always have to include rest days in between. When you’re smashing your workouts it’s really tempting to continue going all-out, and the idea of resting can seem like an optional choice for those who aren’t dedicated enough.
Rest days are an essential part of your training, and if you don’t use them, sooner or later this can lead to injuries that prevent you from training, or worse. Studies have shown that when you challenge your body with an intense weight workout, your body will go through protein synthesis for up to 48 hours after your session.
“You must ensure that you take time out of training and ensure you get enough sleep. A lack of sleep or overtraining can lead to fatigue and injury. This will lead to a lack of performance which will effect your ability to build muscle.”
Essentially, your muscles grow while your body is resting, not during a workout. Lifting weights at the gym is great, but most of your muscle will be built when you’re sleeping and in the kitchen, as part of your muscle gain meal prep. When you rest and give your body the nutrition it needs after a workout, muscles tissue break down, adapt, repair and grow back stronger. Growth hormone also spikes dramatically during deep, so getting plenty of shut-eye really helps too.
If you insist on training the day after you’ve already has a work out, then it’s advisable to target different muscle groups so that you are giving the muscles yo previously worked enough rest.
#5 – Have a little drink before you lift
Studies have shown that those who drank before doing a workout increased their protein synthesis more than those who drank after exercising. And we don’t mean water here, we’re talking about a shake that contains amino acids and carbohydrates.
Essential amino acids are the muscle-building blocks of protein, and making yourself a shake that contains around 6 grams of essential amino acids, plus 35 grams of carbohydrates can be very effective. Drinking this protein-carbohydrate mixture before you start exercising can actually help you to have a greater uptake of amino acids in your muscles. Especially since exercising will increase blood flow to your working tissues
Of course liking protein shakes helps for this tip. Because having nutritious food as part of a muscle gain meal prep plan is effective, liquids are actually absorbed faster by your body. So, having shakes like the above around 30 to 60 minutes before your workout can really improve your results. Just remember that you’ll need around 10 to 20 grams of protein in your shake. For example, this is about one scoop of a whey-protein powder.
#6 – Consume your carbs after exercise
Not all the tips have to be extensive! Simply having some healthy post-workout meals with carbs will increase your insulin levels. Which will slow down the rate your body breaks down protein. Feeding your body more carbohydrates on your rest days, will help you to build muscle faster.
#7 – Eat every 3 hours, have some ice cream and drink milk before bed
Okay, that’s quite a lot for one tip, but they all tie into slowing the breakdown of protein in your body. If you don’t eat enough then you will end up limiting the rate at which your body builds new proteins.
If you take the number of calories you need on a daily basis and divide this by 6, then you’ll get the rough amount of calories you need to consume with each meal. You also need to take in plenty of protein, ideally around 20 grams every 3 hours.
Around 2 hours after exercise, it can be beneficial to have a bowl of ice cream (that’s right we said it!). This sort of snack can trigger a surge of insulin more effectively than other foods, and this will help to slow any post-workout protein breakdown.
Another way to reduce protein breakdown in your muscles, is to consume a combination of carbohydrates and protein 30 minutes before bed, as the calories are more likely to stick with you during sleep. Something as simple as a large cup of semi-skimmed milk can help, along with cottage cheese and a bowl of fruit for example. Just make sure you eat again as soon you get up in the morning. The more disciplined you are with your eating, the better results you’ll get.
#8 – Practice progressive overload
Fuelling your body with muscle gain meal prep and lifting weights is of course the crucial combination to achieving great results. But when it comes to the weights you’re lifting, it’s essential that you keep challenging your body in order to let it grow.
Your body isn’t going to drastically change drastically unless it’s forced to, which is why you can never grow complacent with your training. If you fall into a comfort zone and stop challenging your body, than any lean muscle gains you made will start to plateau. This is why progressively overloading your weights throughout training can work wonders.
“You must always aim to lift progressively heavier and better otherwise your muscles won’t adapt and therefore will not grow. Lifting heavy and well will stimulate your muscles to grow.”
In order to get bigger and stronger, you must continually make your muscles work harder, by increasing the demands you put on it. This mainly means increasing the resistance. For example, if you start out doing barbell biceps curl with your 8RM, which happens to be 75 pounds. Eventually this will no longer be challenging as your muscles get stronger.
So, when curling 75 pounds becomes easy, add 5 more pounds on each side of the bar to increase the resistance. As you increase the load, this will mean your reps will fall a little, but this is perfectly fine. You’ll eventually get stronger with that resistance and be able to repeat the cycle over again. Alternatively, you can always do more repetitions instead of adding more weight. Just keep doing reps until you can’t complete any more on your own with good form.
At Prep, you can choose from any of our muscle gain meal prep plans – all of which are designed to help you reach your goals without the stress of knowing what food to buy and cook.