Building muscle takes time, and the process of hypertrophy (growing muscle) is dependent on many factors such as exercise routine, diet, sleep patterns, and other health issues. Having an understanding of the factors that help build muscle will allow you to optimize your own body’s potential for growth.
During weight training, to stimulate muscle growth, you need to stress the muscle through mechanical tension. To achieve this, your workouts need to include a range of exercises and reps that challenge your muscle through a full range of motion. You also need to stimulate metabolic stress, which occurs when the muscle is pushed past its capacity to perform the exercise. This means that you need to lift enough weight that by the last repetition, your muscle is at or near the point of failure. During this stage, the muscle is using all of its available energy to perform the exercise and you can’t squeeze out any more reps without dropping the weight.
To build muscle, you must also provide your body with adequate protein and calories. You can do this by consuming a balanced diet that includes lean meats, fish, low-fat dairy products, beans and tofu, fruits and vegetables, and whole grains. Protein helps repair muscles and keep them strong, so you want to make sure you’re eating plenty of it. In addition, you can add in a few protein shakes throughout the day to get more calories for muscle-building.
The first few weeks of lifting can feel like you’re not making progress, but that is simply your muscles adapting to the resistance. As you continue to train, you’ll start to notice the muscles becoming bigger. This usually occurs around the 6th to 8th week of your lifting program, and is a result of the neuro-muscular gains you’re making (the brain-to-muscle signals are getting stronger).
Another factor that will affect how fast you gain muscle is genetics. Some people have a naturally slow metabolism and are just better suited to losing fat rather than gaining muscle. Other people have a genetically predisposed ability to gain muscle easily and quickly. If you have this genetic advantage, you can speed up the process by ensuring that you’re lifting the right amount of weight for your current strength level.
You can also accelerate the muscle-building process by following a specific routine that is designed to target your specific muscles. Having a good knowledge of how each muscle is trained will help you create an appropriate training plan. This may involve incorporating multi-joint exercises that target multiple muscles at once, such as a dumbbell row, which incorporates the bicep and lat muscles, or single-joint movements, such as bicep curls. You can find these types of workouts by searching the internet for muscle-building routines or consulting a strength coach or physical therapist to design an appropriate training program for you. This is especially important if you are new to lifting weights or have had injury problems in the past.