A cheat sheet to maximising your muscle gains
Whether you are new to the world of bodybuilding, have been immersed in it for many years now or simply want to see some gains at the gym, there are things you could be doing to maximise your muscle gains that go beyond a ‘train, eat, sleep, repeat’ recipe. Although you may be taking all the right steps by mixing up your reps, steadily increasing your load, focusing on compound exercises and filing your body with adequate nutrients, missing small steps in your journey could be slowing down your progress.
If you feel like you live at the gym and your glutes are no closer to a Kardashian status, then you may want to consider these often overlooked steps.
Try evening sessions
Change up the time of your training sessions. Instead of attending a morning class why not try training later in the day. This allows you to store more fuel throughout the day and really give it your all during your session. This small change up in your routine could be especially beneficial if you are going through a process of increasing your reps or load and need the added energy.
The optimum time frame for this is between 5-7pm, as exercising beyond that time holds the potential of disrupting your sleep cycle, which we know is crucial to your body’s ability to grow and repair tissue. This also takes us to our next tip…
Go to bed 30 minutes earlier than you usually would
Put down your phone, switch off your television and give yourself the best chance you can to catch some extra zzz’s. Although we have heard it more times than we care to admit, but ensuring you get between 7 to 9 hours of shuteye is not important BUT crucial to your muscle growth. When we sleep, our bodies store blood glucose in our muscles as muscle glycogen. This produces significantly more energy than glucose found in our blood and liver when we exercise. A lack of sleep means these glycogen reserves can’t be replenished.
Sleep also affects the production of the ‘human growth hormone’ (HGH), which is a primary compound related to muscle repair and growth. Although not discussed, as readily within the context of fitness and muscle building, the presence of HGH is vital as it allows the body to actually use and process the amino acids present in the food that we eat.
If that is not enough to make you hit the pillow a little earlier, perhaps a study published in Med Hypotheses in 2011 will do the job. The study found that participants who slept around 5 hours had 60% less muscle mass than those who slept for a total of 8.5 hours.
Create a powerful pre and post workout concoction beyond a protein shake
We know that food plays an important role in muscle repair and synthesis and the same can be said of your supplements regime. Beyond ensuring you have an adequate intake of protein shakes throughout the day, you can really maximise your gym session with the right pre-workout regime.
Taking a fat burner 30 minutes prior to your workout can help elevate your session to another level. Formulated to boost your metabolism by tapping into fat stores and converting it into energy, they help boost both performance and endurance. Moreover, the Happy Way fat burner range also contains amino acids, which work to activate the muscle synthesis process while you exercise.
BCAA’s help maximise your gym session in several ways. Two of the amino acids found in BCAAs, isoleucine and valine convert into glucose in the body when consumed, providing extra energy and helping combat fatigue. The remaining amino acid leucine converts to ATP, which is a muscle building protein. Although you may already be consuming protein shakes throughout the day, BCAA’s offer a much more concentrated dose of muscle building amino acids. This particular branch of amino acids also bypasses the liver and travels directly to muscles meaning that the process of muscle synthesis is sped up.
Keep a food journal
We know that a calorie surplus is crucial for muscle gain. However, on top of this one needs to take into consideration the breakdown of their macronutrients and if they are receiving and adequate intake of each one.
Eat more on your rest days
Your rest days from the gym don’t extend to a rest day from your diet. In fact, what you eat during your days off is more important than what you consume when you are doing the heavy lifting. This is because most of your muscle repair and synthesis takes place on your days off. While you can afford to consume less calories during rest periods, your intake of protein should remain the same.