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    6 Tips for Building and Maintaining Muscle

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    Getting stronger is an admirable, healthy fitness goal. That’s why you’re hitting the gym, lifting more, and packing every meal with protein. But building muscle can be a bit tricky.6 Tips for Building and Maintaining Muscle

    Sure, lifting weights and eating more protein can help you become stronger, but to build muscle you need to push your muscles past their limit and then give them time to recover and grow 6 Tips for Building and Maintaining Muscle

    .1 To build and maintain muscle mass, you need patience and persistence.

    So, how can one develop and preserve muscle? Realistic goals, healthy eating, rest, and appropriate training combine to provide an equation for success that is doable.

     How to Improve Muscular Strength and Definition

    How to Build Muscle

    You need to grow muscle cells to build muscle 6 Tips for Building and Maintaining Muscle. This is called muscle hypertrophy, which is when muscle making outpaces muscle breakdown.1 Strength training plus an adequate amount of protein sets the foundation for building muscle 6 Tips for Building and Maintaining Muscle. But rest and recovery are equally important. Further details on the following methods of muscle building are provided below:

    1. Resistance training
    2. Calorie surplus
    3. Increased protein
    4. Recovery time
    5. Sleep

    Fitness

    Strength training, or resistance training, is the primary form of exercise for muscle building.1 It involves using weights, machines 6 Tips for Building and Maintaining Muscle, or your own body weight to stress your muscles, pushing them past their limits.

    The mechanical tension you place on your muscles when strength training triggers something called metabolic stress, which gives your muscles the energy they need to adapt to the strain of the weight so you can keep lifting.2 Pushing past the point where your muscles tire out damages the muscle fibers. This muscle damage triggers the healing process that causes the muscles to grow 6 Tips for Building and Maintaining Muscle.

    To grow muscle, it’s often helpful to find your one-repetition maximum (RM), which is the heaviest amount of weight you can lift without losing proper form6 Tips for Building and Maintaining Muscle.3 If you can easily do three sets of 10 repetitions, or reps, you’re not at your RM. Consulting with a personal trainer can help you find your one-repetition maximum.

    As your strength improves and your muscles grow, increase weight load and the number of sets to continue to build.1 Professional athlete, gymnastic coach, personal trainer, and creator of PHIIT Strength Kari Pearce says, “You must continue to lift heavier weights to build muscle.” When your weights are no longer challenging, it’s time to increase your weight load.

    The time frame is different for each person, but generally within a month you will feel weights becoming lighter.

    — KARI PEARCE

    Varying the type of workout you do also helps build muscle. You work out different muscle groups when you switch from free weights to weight machines 6 Tips for Building and Maintaining Muscle.4 Pearce also suggests using compound movements to progress muscle growth. The more muscles you include in your movements, the greater the benefits. Using a vibration plate while resistance training can also boost muscle mass and strength 6 Tips for Building and Maintaining Muscle.

    Pearce says her advice varies for each client. “Experience level will come into play when doing a strength training program. If you are a beginner, more basic and bodyweight movements will be included 6 Tips for Building and Maintaining Muscle.There will be more advanced and weighted motions when I work with someone who is more experienced. This is to make it more enjoyable and hard in addition to observing the finest results!”

     Strength Training: A Beginner’s Guide to Getting Stronger

    Nutrition

    Building muscle requires good nutrition and high-quality calories that includes a mix of protein, carbs, and fat. Using supplements to support your workout, such as protein powder and electrolyte tablets, can help you meet your nutrition needs.

    In order to grow muscles, you need to maintain a positive protein balance. The International Society of Sports Nutrition (ISSN) says you need at least 0.6 to 0.9 grams of protein per pound of body weight to maintain a positive protein balance and you may need as much as 1.3 grams of protein per pound to gain muscle.5

    While protein is important for building muscle, carbohydrates and fat also plays a role in helping your body achieve its goals.6 Carbohydrates from fruits, vegetables, and whole grains serve as a source of energy and essential nutrients like fiber, vitamins, and minerals 6 Tips for Building and Maintaining Muscle. According to Pearce, fat gives your body energy and aids in the production of the hormones required for muscular growth. “Drinking plenty of water and limiting alcohol consumption” are other recommendations she makes.”

    Other Factors

    Giving your body time to recover is also important for muscle building. You should let your muscles rest for 48 hours before working them out again.7

    You also need an adequate amount of sleep to build muscle. A lot of things happen while you sleep, including repairing and building muscle. Not getting enough sleep triggers your body to release catabolic hormones like cortisol, slowing down muscle growth.8

    Adults need 7-9 hours of sleep a night.9 But when working out to build muscle, aim for at least eight hours of sleep, says Pearce. Getting an adequate amount of sleep keeps the anabolic hormone levels elevated, improving muscle recovery and growth.9

    How you manage stress also affects muscle building. When you’re chronically stressed, your catabolic stress hormones remain high, affecting muscle growth and strength.10 According to Pearce, stress also affects your workouts. She recommends taking it easy on those high stress days and the days you have a hard time getting enough sleep.6 Tips for Building and Maintaining Muscle

     Get Started With Weight Training

    How to Maintain Muscle

    When it comes to maintaining muscle mass, you can follow a “use it or lose it” mentality. After age 30, you can lose up to 5% of your muscle mass every 10 years if you’re not physically active.11 Like muscle building, fitness and nutrition are vital to maintaining lean body mass.

    Fitness

    Regular strength training is key to maintaining muscle mass. Like muscle building, you need to stress the muscle to maintain strength. This means lifting enough weight and doing enough reps to the point where it’s too hard to do one more.12

    Yoga and Pilates are also muscle building workouts that help maintain lean body mass and improve flexibility.11

    Resistance training helps you maintain muscle strength, but doesn’t necessarily add more bulk.12 Pearce says, “I often hear women say that they do not want to lift heavy because they do not want to get bulky. I promise you will not bulk up in a short period of time.”

    Further, she says “I believe all women should build muscle—there are a variety of benefits including stronger bones, increased resting metabolic rate, and it will make things in your daily life easier…to name a few!”

     5 Ways to Maintain Muscle Mass

    Nutrition

    Maintaining muscular mass also requires a healthy diet, particularly one rich in high-quality protein. According to the ISSN, to maintain muscle mass, you require 0.6 to 0.9 grams of protein per pound of body weight.

    Eating balanced meals filled with nutrient-rich foods from all the food groups should help you get enough protein, as well as an adequate amount of carbohydrates and for energy and the other essential nutrients you need to maintain muscle and support overall health.

     7-Day Bodybuilding Meal Plan & Recipe Prep

    Other Factors

    Finding healthy ways to manage stress is also important for maintaining muscle. A 2014 study published in the Journal of Clinical and Diagnostic Research found that stress decreases muscle strength.10 How you manage stress right now may affect your muscle strength later on 6 Tips for Building and Maintaining Muscle.

    You also need to create good sleeping habits. Like stress, accumulating sleep debt increases the release of the catabolic hormones that decrease muscle mass and strength.8 Aim for a minimum of 7 hours of sleep a night.

    A Word From Verywell Fit

    Whether you want to build or maintain muscle, it’s important to know that what works for others may not work for you. Many factors influence your body composition, including exercise, nutrition, genetics, sleep, stress, and medical history.

    Find a routine that works for you and stick with it. Whether it’s free weights or body resistance exercises, the key to keeping your muscles is consistency.

     

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