If you are at a dead end in the gym or want to take on a challenge, you may come to a point in your workout where you want to start building muscle.
It can be a pretty daunting prospect, especially when you are looking for safe and maintainable changes to your body. Losing weight isn’t just about lifting weights in the gym – you need to consider your diet too.
While it’s always good to see a personal trainer or doctor with you if you have any questions, these are some good things to know before you start your journey …
How should you start?
The first thing Personal Trainer Hendrick Famutimi wants to know from clients looking to build muscle is, “If you’ve ever done any form of strength training just to get a basic history of what you’ve done”. This means that Famutimi can create a program tailored to their level.
“If you’re a newbie and have never lifted weights… If you want to get stronger and build muscle, then dumbbells should be your workout,” he suggests. If you choose to use dumbbells over a barbell, you can “see if one side is stronger than the other,” he says. In this way you can ensure that your dominant side does not automatically take over when lifting weights – this can “lead to injuries”.
Famutimi recommends doing compound exercises in the gym – training multiple muscle groups like “squats, deadlifts, bench presses, cleanses and presses”.
If you want to put together a sustainable training plan, he says, be realistic. There’s nothing worse than training three times a week and only getting through two – “then you’ll feel guilty when you can’t.”
“So I recommend people do two a week – if they enjoy it and see that they are getting some form of result and they can add a third, do it on their own. This is a big deal because they saw the results, and that result is what drives you [them] Desire for more, ”he says.
What about your diet?
For Signe Svanfeldt, a nutritionist at Lifesum, protein is the key to success. “Protein builds muscles and other tissues and supports regeneration,” she explains. “With a good protein balance, we can limit muscle breakdown and stimulate muscle building.”
It is important to consider what type of protein you have. Svanfeldt says: “Protein consists of small building blocks called amino acids. There are around 20 different amino acids in total, nine of which are essential. This means that we have to get them from the food we eat, as we cannot produce them naturally. “
Some animal sources of protein contain all nine – including eggs, fish, and chicken – but it’s less common for plant sources to contain all of them, so you’ll need to combine foods.
To really see changes in your body, Svanfeldt’s top tip is to make sure you are eating enough. “If you don’t, the body will use the protein for fuel instead of doing other things like building muscle,” she says.
If you’re struggling with this, Svanfeldt advises, “It’s a good idea to eat high-energy foods like nuts, avocado, seeds, and olive oil to increase the amount of energy without consuming large amounts of food.”
How quickly can you expect results?
There is no hard and fast rule because “everyone is different,” says Famutimi. “This is a very sensitive issue because some people may get results in six weeks, others in 12, so there is no specific number.”
Much of it is genetic. Famutimi says: “There are eight billion people in the world – everyone reacts very differently.” It is important not to let yourself get down and compare yourself to others, because “everyone has their own way ahead of them”.
The results can also differ between men and women, because “men can build more muscle more easily than women because of testosterone levels,” suggests Famutimi.
What common mistakes do people make?
“I don’t find the time to learn the technique properly,” says Famutimi with a groan. He saw this especially when gyms closed during lockdown when some folks at home made their own “creative” workout plans.
Famutimi also warns against “going to the wrong sources to learn how to do an exercise”. He says the squats and deadlifts are two of the most effective and common exercises, but they are often done incorrectly. When deadlifting, he often sees, “people with rounded backs, so they’re using their whole back, not legs” – which can lead to injury.
Outside of the gym, building muscle doesn’t mean reaching for powdered protein. It can “be helpful for those who are having trouble getting enough energy; Drinking a protein shake is easy and very convenient, especially when you’re on the go, ”says Svanfeldt. “But protein-rich whole foods work just as well and have many other advantages.”