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The Basics of Gaining Muscle!

Many people have a goal of gaining muscle and weight. Whether you are very skinny now or if you have already achieved a muscular physique and are looking to bulk up, this is your basic guide to gaining muscle! The three most important factors in gaining muscle that you can control are your diet, training, and sleep habits.


Diet is going to be a major factor in gaining muscle. You can be on the best training program in the world, but if you are not eating properly then you will not be gaining muscle at an optimal rate. For gaining muscle, you should consume a surplus of calories, meaning you should consume more calories than you are burning. The best way to figure out how many calories that you will need to eat to be gaining muscle and weight is to write down all of the foods that you are eating now to find your current calorie intake. If you are staying at the same weight at your current calorie intake, then to start gaining muscle you should try adding an extra 300-700 calories (as a general guideline) to provide your body with the extra calories that it needs to form new tissue.

The foods that your diet is composed of are very important as well. For gaining muscle you will need to be getting enough calories from “clean” sources of protein, carbohydrates, and fat. There are many recommendations as to how much of each of these nutrients a person should consume to gain muscle, but some good general guidelines that are easy to follow are a diet composed of 1-2g of protein per pound of body weight, and about 0.4g of healthy fats per pound of body weight. The remaining calories can come from carbohydrates, and you should also be getting in plenty of green vegetables as these provide essential nutrients and antioxidants. Good sources of protein include lean meats such as chicken, turkey, tuna, and lean cuts of beef as well as other complete protein sources such as whey protein and egg white. Good sources of carbohydrates include oatmeal, brown rice, sweet potatoes, and sprouted grain bread. Good fat sources include nuts such as almonds and walnuts as well as some oils such as olive, flax, and fish oil. There are many options for what vegetables you can consume. Spinach, broccoli, and green beans are all good choices and there are many more to choose from.


Now on to the workouts! If you are looking to start gaining muscle and weight, then I recommend lifting weights 3-5 days per week, making sure to keep sets heavy and take every working set to failure (when you can not perform another rep with good form). For gaining muscle you should focus on compound movements (exercises that target more than muscle such as the squat, deadlift, and bench press). How you split your body up throughout the week is up to you, and everyone has their own preferences here. Keep in mind that the more often you train a muscle group, the less working sets you will be able to do for that muscle group in one session and still be recovered for the next session.


Sleep is another major factor in gaining muscle. Sleep is often underrated in just how important it is to keep you progressing in the gym and steadily gaining muscle. Without adequate sleep, your body will not be able to recover as fast and your progress will slow. Everyone varies in how much sleep that they need for gaining muscle, but 9 hours per night should be enough for most people to be gaining muscle at an optimal rate. Some people may need more than this, and some may need less. I am not going to write much here, but if your goal is gaining muscle then try to get as much sleep as possible!


So there you have it! Follow these basic recommendations, and you should be well on your way to gaining muscle. Consistency is important as well, make a plan for gaining muscle and stick to it to see results. When it comes to gaining muscle, the basics will get you a long way!


ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Cassie is a chemistry major and national level bodybuilder. Questions or comments? Talk to Cassie on the FORUMor on FACEBOOK.

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