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Increasing Muscle Mass

What you need to know when you just won’t grow (building muscle mass).

Ensure that you have a good training program:

If you are looking to gain muscle mass, an appropriate program must be followed. Sets, reps and rest can all have an impact on the outcome of your program, as well as when and how you train. In addition, poor form can lead to bad posture and reduced mobility, both of which may not only impede on your goals, but also lead to poor health outcomes. Enlist in the help of a professional i.e. a strength and conditioning coach. A physio and an exercise physiologist may also be of benefit, particularly if you have injuries, poor range of movement and/or weaknesses.

Ensure that your goals are realistic:

Whilst we all want things to happen overnight, the reality is that increasing muscle mass will be a slow process, and will require persistence and commitment. Initially, gains in muscle mass can occur quite quickly, but as your body adapts this process will become more challenging. If you are an athlete, increasing muscle mass in the “off season” may be preferable, as a gain of fat mass may also occur.

Adapt your diet plan to your goals:

To increase muscle mass, you will need to increase your overall energy intake (not just protein). This part can be challenging, especially if you are wanting to minimise increases in fat mass. No one diet plan is suitable for everyone, this is going to depend on your specific goals, your current condition and whether or not you have sports training and/or competition considerations. Small increases in energy may minimise increases in fat mass, whilst snacking throughout the day may prevent you from feeling “too full” to consume enough energy.

Make sure that you do not discredit carbohydrates:

Whilst protein (or more specifically amino acids) are said to be the building blocks of muscle, carbohydrate is like the builder that put the building blocks together. It helps to provide the energy for muscle synthesis, whilst also assisting with power output and explosive movements.

Time your protein right:

Whilst a common misconception is that just eating a large protein based meal will contribute to muscle growth, the timing and distribution of protein intake is most important. Depending on body weight, around 20-30 grams of protein should be consumed every 3-4 hours during the day (including upon waking and before bed).

When you have optimised the basics, then you might consider supplements (that work):

Whilst there are an abundance of supplements available on the market, there are only a handful that are proven to work. Whey protein is one of them, whilst Creatine monohydrate (which assists with explosive movements/ strength) is another. It is important to know however, that without optimising your training and diet first, supplements will likely have little effect. It is also important to take note that many supplements do not label whether or not they contain banned substances, whilst others may be contaminated- if you are an athlete, it is worth considering the risk first.

Rebekah Alcock
Accredited Practicing Dietitian
Recover Sports Medicine

If you have any questions regarding this post, or wish to book in to see our Accreddited Practicing Dietitian, please call us on 1300 858 774 or email contact@recoversportsmed.com.au

 

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