Nutrition - ProteinMost bodybuilders probably would not make the mistake of “not exercising,” so we’ll start with the other half: proper nutrition. Most importantly, bodybuilders need to at least eat their body weight in grams of protein. For instance, if one weighed 170 pounds, one would need to eat 170 grams of protein per day in order to gain muscle. However, dedicated bodybuilders with a high work ethic will eat about double their body weight in grams of protein to compensate for the heavy exercise that they’re completing and to get the massive gains they’re looking for. After all, protein is what muscles are made out of.
In order to maximize gains, timing your protein intake is essential. For instance, taking too much protein without physical activity will cause the protein to turn into fat and go to waste. The most important time to take in protein is post-workout. This is the period right after the workout and ends after 30 minutes. During the post-workout period, protein absorption is most efficient as the muscle fibers have just started breaking up and are ready to start repairing and growing. However, to supplement gains, pre-workout protein along with protein consumption during the workout can also help. This keeps a steady stream of protein going to the muscles.
Two other important times to take protein would be before bed and at breakfast. Sleep can be viewed as a bodybuilder’s enemy as it is usually a full eight hours of fasting (sleep is still essential as we will cover later). Therefore, we must make sure we don’t starve our bodies too badly during that period, hence the importance of protein before bed. Many people also decide to skip breakfast. This actually lowers your metabolism as your body feels starved and attempts to store fat, which is never a good thing. And as long as you’re working out everyday, there’ll be no such thing as overconsumption of protein.
Nutrition - OtherThough we call proteins the building blocks of muscle, other nutrients are also highly important. Most vitamins and minerals promote growth in all aspects, especially B vitamins. B vitamins are found in most grains and fortified foods. So, if you’re still growing, B vitamins will help you maximize your development. Trying to get a full set of vitamins in your diet also has many side benefits like increasing your carb and calorie consumption, essential for gaining weight. Eating more will also force you to vary your protein sources.
Another important nutrient is calcium. Bodybuilding doesn’t only strengthen the muscles, it also strengthens the bones. However, bones, just like muscles, need materials to become stronger. Muscles utilize protein while bones utilize calcium. Calcium intake will allow your bones to take on the ever increasing stress of lifting. Also, calcium is needed to metabolize protein. Many bodybuilders make the dire mistake of not taking in proper calcium and end up developing osteoporosis.
Nutrition - SupplementsBesides eating normal diet, you may want to add in some supplements. The market advertises a great selection of supplements. However, most supplements barely benefit you and are generally scams. The two most used supplements however, have been proven to be quite effective in both the lab and through popular consensus. These would be Creatine and Glutamine. Creatine is a naturally occurring acid that is found in meats and helps supply energy to muscles by absorbing nutrients. Nutrient enriched creatine then enters muscle cells, thus enlarging them. The amino acid Glutamine is also a great supplement, known to increase HGH (Human Growth Hormone) levels.
RoutineThe essentials of the physical activity can also be improved. Since it takes over 48 hours for a fully fatigued muscle to recover many bodybuilders tend to alternate muscle groups in order to work out every day. For instance, one may work the biceps one day, fully fatiguing them, then work the quads another day. After working out the quads, the biceps should have fully recovered and the cycle can start again. This allows you to work out everyday without having to change your protein and calorie intake due to your activity level.
RepetitionsThe quality of the sets of repetitions can also be improved. First, the number of repetitions per set should be 8-12 with most people choosing to do 10. After doing those reps, you should rest for about 3 minutes and then do two more sets with equal reps. Doing the reps in faster, more explosive motions can also help as explosive power requires more muscle mass (just as sprinters have more muscle than marathon runners).
Gaining healthy weight is hard for a great deal of the population. Mistakes could lead to excess fat, no real gains (meaning your time and effort would be wasted), bone injuries, etc. That is why every step should be followed carefully. But as long as you exercise and eat right, you’ll see noticeable gains in weeks.
Disclaimer: The information contained in this article is for educational purposes only and should not be used for diagnosis or to guide treatment without the opinion of a health professional. Any reader who is concerned about his or her health should contact a doctor for advice.