Braww. Muscle Gain
The process to muscle development…
In the contents below, we at Braww take you on a guided tour of what it takes to achieve Muscle Gain. We outline some of the key factors that, if you are not already, should be applying to your journey. On the road to putting on lean muscle mass we encounter problems and strategies. We hope you can learn some of the common milestones and apply them to your own life.
What does muscle gain actually mean?
Funnily enough, muscle gain is not simply putting on overall weight and size. There is in fact a lot more to the journey than most people anticipate. The science behind muscle gain can be simply explained by the hypertrophy process. Put frankly this is a two step process. The first part is through the training element – stimulation. This is where the contractions of the muscle take place – when you thrash the weights. Creating damage to the muscle. The second part of the process is the time between workouts – recovery. Whereby, once the muscle is damaged it must repair and rebuild. With the aid of rest and appropriate nutrition, they come back stronger and larger. Hence the desired muscle gain occurs.
Although, the theory seems simple, like everything in this complicated world, there are many more determining factors. Building muscle is not just the acquiring of lean mass. It is also the reduction of body fat. Going back to the initial point of “overall size,” you must reduce body fat at the same time to reveal the muscles you are working so hard for.
Genetics is a huge player in this game of gains. We are born with certain body types that have a major effect on the capabilities of our body.
However, these are not as black and white as they may seem. It is more often the case that people will have combinations of certain body types. Therefore having a blend of characteristics that create a unique body type to each individual.
Training for muscle gain…
When it comes to training specifics for packing on the muscle, one of the major components is stacking up the weight. To understand how this works we must delve into the body first. This is where we find ourselves at the energy systems your body uses. In short we have 3 systems – ATP, Lactic Acid and Aerobic. ATP is the one to focus on as this is the energy system your body will use for immediate energy output. However, this only last for a short amount of time. We focus on this because hypertrophy is dependent on the presence of ATP. Therefore we must be able to push the muscle beyond its limit, causing damage – for hypertrophy. Within the short space of time ATP is available. We do this through weight loaded exercises as it is the most efficient method.
To throw another spanner into the works. We are able to create higher levels of ATP by performing high repetition sets. In turn creating higher levels of strength and promoting higher levels of hypertrophy. So in conclusion you should be doing both high and low repetition sets in your quest to gaining muscle. These are the recommended rep ranges that you should be aiming for in the gym.
Compound vs Isolation…
For clarity, compound exercises are ones that require more than one muscle group in order to create the lift. Isolation exercises however are ones that only require one specific muscle or muscle group. For example;
- Compound – Bench Press, Squats, Dead lifts, Overhead Press, Prowler Push.
- Isolation – Bicep curls, Leg extensions, Triceps push downs, Plate press, Hamstring curl.
The differences when it comes to muscle gain are vital. Compound movements are proven to produce high levels of Growth Hormone (a hormone that stimulates growth, cell reproduction and cell regeneration). Furthermore, they require a lot more stabilising, meaning smaller muscles are also worked which may not have been in an isolation lift. In contrast, isolation exercises target muscle growth to a specific muscle and help iron out any imbalances you may have. Also, you are able to take full advantage of the range of motion of the movement. Creating maximum growth across the entire muscle.
With both movement types taken into account, you should be including both in your routines. However, we would recommend you begin with compound movements as you will need as much energy to perform them effectively as possible.
Free Weights v Machines…
A crossroad that faces a lot of new gym members. Starting from a novice perspective whereby you will be able to slot yourself in where you see fit. For a total beginner, you should start using all the basic machines that are readily available. Ones with the giant stickers and the picture of a highlighted person. These are the safety net and allow you and your body to get used to certain movements. Without any real danger.
We then move onto the more advanced machines. Ones that may have strange handles or a complex system of cables attached to them. Here we get the muscles moving more independently, creating the next level of muscle movements. By taking the stabilisers of the basic machines away we force ourselves to engage more structural muscles – the core. By using our core more, we strengthen the body as a whole and with equal amounts.
Then we are ready for the top level which is found in the free weight section. By completely taking away all assistance we again force the body to recruit every single muscle needed. This means that we maximise the workload, breakdown the muscle in the most efficient way and strengthen all of our stabilising muscles at the same time.
There is always a “but” though. In this case, it means that although you may reach the top level, all levels have their place on the journey to muscle gain. It is the combination of all the levels that creates a diverse workout. One that can round you out on all aspects as oppose to just one.
Eating for Muscle Gain…
The number 1 thing to remember when you are training to put on more muscle mass. Is that, in order to gain weight you must eat more energy (calories) than you are using throughout the day. Including, the ones you use in the weights room. This is what is called being in a Calorie Surplus. An extremely essential part of muscle gain. In order to find out how to get into a calorie surplus you must work out your BMI. There are many ways to do this on the internet in forms of the Schofield Equation. You can then determine how many calories you will need to consume to make all the training worthwhile.
Quantity is not the only determining factor. Quality is also a fundamental element. A ‘regular Joe’ is able to sit back and easily eat 3000-4000 calories of rubbish. The food industry has made this easy with processed products and fast food, that make mass calorie intake a walk in the park. However, These foods have no benefit to muscle gain or any other goal in everyday life for that matter. Quality is key and it will pay dividends on your journey to take the time to source fresh and wholesome foods. Including, lean meats, complex carbohydrates and healthy fats. These, not only provide your muscles with the best recovery but also encompass a healthy life for the rest of your body.
Guided Daily Amounts…
The human body can only use up so much of the food that it takes in. It is a common misconception that you need to overload on protein to gain more muscle. Protein, similarly to the other food groups, is only effective for the body up to a certain amount. This obviously changes depending on the training you are doing. However, this unusable amount is not just sent through the body and out the other side. It is stored, most commonly as fat. To aid us, below is the recommended amounts of each food group you should be consuming.
Amount of Protein Per Kilogram of Body Weight - 1.6g - 2g per kg - 4g per k cal (calorie)
Amount of Carbohydrates Per Kilogram of Body Weight - 3.5g - 4g per kg - 4g per k cal (calorie)
Amount of Fats Per Kilogram of Body Weight - 0.5g - 1g per kg - 9g per k cal (calorie)
An in depth explanation for keeping up your water intake is not needed. This should be habit that comes naturally to your everyday life. Especially seeing how much the benefits outweigh the risks, for something so easy to apply.
Recommended amount a day – 2 litres per 50kg of body weight.
Muscle Gain Myths…
Cardio before weights…
You must first understand, that our body needs to burn energy in order to perform any task. The product it uses initially is Glucose which comes from the foods we eat. Once the body runs out of Glucose, typically around 60-90 mins when its storage is full, it needs a new source to use. This source is – Fat. The body uses Glucose first because it provides the most energy. Therefore when we put context to this knowledge, logic dictates that we should do the harder task, first. Similarly, you want to use up this energy smartly so that you can then begin to burn fat. For maximum results, you should be using the Glucose to shift the heavy weights and gain strength, then use fat to get you through your cardio. As a result, you will be building the muscle and burning the fat, all in one workout.
Learn to love leg day…
Too often, there is a major reluctance to perform leg days. The logic of training legs when you are trying to gain weight seems indisputable. They cover half of your entire body. They contain the largest muscle groups in the body and all the successful muscle gainers never skip a leg day. So is it fear? A lack of knowledge? A lack of will power? Or are people happy with their legs not matching their upper body?
The research into the “why” could be never ending but, here are some points to seriously consider when planning your next training week...
- Releases more Growth Hormone than any other body part.
- Builds more mental capacity.
- Builds a strong core.
- Massively improves everyday life.
- Creates body symmetry.
- Improves your cardiovascular system.
Leave your ego at the door…
One of the biggest barriers that you will face on your journey to gaining more muscle – is your own ego. In order to see the most progression and make the most of your training time you must acquire the trait of humility. By this, we mean that for one; you must protect yourself from injury and ensure that you are not lifting weights beyond your current ability. Especially if the reason for doing so is to impress or compete with any other person. A large reason for injuries or loss of motivation is because of this very reason.
Secondly, you must be radically open minded when it comes to learning the art of weight training. To put some perspective on this, your friend’s method of training may work well for them, but that does not necessarily mean its the same for you. Just like nuts may effect them differently or a certain Netflix show may do. Therefore, you must try all the different methods to get to where you want to be. The best way to do this is through trial and error. By seeking out the most reliable source, listening or reading well, then applying it to your own training schedule.
Rest & Recovery…
Anyone who has experienced weight training or even any training that pushes your muscle beyond it’s current limits. Knows the pain that awaits them in the following days. This is called Delayed Onset Muscle Soreness (DOMS). This pain, is caused by tiny tears to the muscles fibres, tears which are part of the process of building stronger muscle. The muscle then repairs itself, adapts to the training, and the soreness is reduced over regular training time.
However, FOMO is a concept that is around us everyday. It can also be applied to muscle gain. An irrational fear that if you take a day or several days off of training you will somehow lose all of your progress and be forced back to square one. This is simply not true. A common misconception and in actuality has the complete opposite effect. Rest days are beneficial to your progress. To circle back to the first point – the body has a 2 step process to muscle gain. The latter is that it must repair well. For this to happen you must be resting. However, we are able to speed up this process and reduce the effects of DOMS and injury in 3 easy ways…
1. Thorough warm ups.
2. Stretching well.
3. Learning how to foam roll and applying it.
Sleep is a life necessity, but also has a multitude of benefits for the people who are looking to pack on the pounds in lean muscle mass. These are the top advantages to getting a good 40 winks;
- Helps to promote the production of. Growth Hormone.
- Restores brain cells.
- Improves mental alertness.
- Reduces stress.
- Helps prevent inflammation.
As a whole, exercise and physical training should put you into a better mood. Both long and short term. However, despite what many people think, due to the stress that is placed on the body, we run the risk over training. By not giving your body enough or adequate time to rest and recover. You are not giving it the chance to repair itself as best it can. Furthermore this can have a reverse effect. Causing problems in your metabolism and a “burnout” effect. Both of which can put an end to your training altogether. It will also stunt your progress as you are not giving enough time for the body to adapt.
As a result of this, we move on to something called – plateauing. This is also commonly know as “hitting a wall” or “going as for as you can”. Hitting a plateau can be related to over training where the body is under so much stress it cannot progress. Essentially, when you plateau, it means that you have reached a ceiling with your current training. This does not mean that you cannot go a further. Simply put, it just means that your body has become used to your training style. The most usual answer is to switch up your way of training. Always keep your body on its toes.
Staying On Track…
Here, are the best ways to stay motivated on your journey to more muscle;
- Train with someone else – not only is it more motivation but you can also have a regular spotter.
- Be consistent – every small change equates to a bigger one, so keep making the small wins daily.
- Be realistic – you should expect to gain around 0.5 kg (males) and 0.25 kg (females) per month. If all other aspects are up to scratch.
- Set a time frame – don’t expect overnight results. Plan to measure your progress at around 6/8/12 week intervals.
- Pick a playlist – music can be a great motivator, especially if you are training alone.
Here are the best ways in which to track your progress and your muscle gain journey;
- Body fat calipers.
- How you fit in your current clothes.
- Tape measurements.
- Progress pictures.
- Always compare yourself to a previous you, not another person.
So, there we have it. These are just some of the cornerstones that will help you to gain muscle and reach your goals. However, each point can be expanded on in many different ways, but you should not let the overload of information put you off having a go. As it usually goes, if it were easy then everyone would be doing it. The truth is that everybody can do it, but is everyone willing to put in the work needed to achieve it.
So, make sure you know exactly what you are doing before jumping in. As it will take a full commitment to get to where you want to be and you want to make sure you have the best possible chance of doing so. Therefore gather the information you need, plan exactly what you are going to and make sure you execute well. Also do not be afraid to fail or encounter problems as these will be a huge learning curve. One which will pay you back in the future. In addition make sure you eat correctly and give your body the rest it will need to stay on an upward trajectory.
We at Braww hope that this has given you an insight into what it takes to gain muscle. We want to inspire people to take charge of their goals. For them to be confident in the knowledge that they acquire by taking it independently and adding real value to their lives.