Tired of being the skinny guy in the shadows? Rare is the guy who doesn’t want to show off rippling muscles and a chiseled bod. Looking like a bulked out John Abraham may not be every guy’s dream but there’s plenty you can do to fill out a shirt and show off visible muscles and well defined abs. There’s so much misinformation about what that takes so here’s a ready reckoner to help you get the skinny of what it takes to build—and keep—those muscles.
Up your protein intake
That doesn’t mean you start stuffing your face every chance you get. Sure a burger might have a chicken patty but it also has loads of carbs that won’t help your muscle building efforts. So start reading food labels to get a good idea of the calories you’re eating. Cut out the junk, sodas and processed stuff. Start eating like your grandfather did; whole, unprocessed foods like fish, eggs, chicken breast, cottage cheese, milk, veggies, fruits and whole grains. Try and eat protein with every meal so that you reach the daily optimal 1 gm of protein per pound body weight you need to build muscle. Just to give you a picture: 100 gm of chicken breast has 24 gm of protein.
Sure you can still go for a jog or brisk walk but limit it to a maximum of three times a week. And no more than 30 minutes per session. If there’s a layer of lard covering your six pack, pack in some fat burning-muscle sparing exercise like sprint intervals (running at top speed for a minute, light jog for two minutes, followed by sprints again). Do this for 30 minutes, three times a week.
Do fewer reps
The trick to building muscles lies in not doing more than 15 sets per muscle group; ideally limit reps to between six and 12 per set for the most muscle growth, and limit your workout to no more than 45-60 minutes at a time. Make up for fewer reps by using heavier weights and move through each rep at a measured speed. Ideally your sets should last between 40 and 70 seconds; if you’re doing them faster it means your muscles are not being stretched enough to shock them into growth..
Do full body workouts or split routines
The best workouts are those that train the whole body in a single workout or focus only on the upper body in one session and the lower body in another. Both workouts have unique benefits but essentially they help to isolate a single muscle group in the session. The ideal kind of workout includes lifts that work on several muscle groups at once. These include squats, deadlifts, rows, presses and pull-ups.
It might hurt at first but all kinds of stretching–including getting into a stretch position and holding it or moving smoothly in or out of a position—will keep you flexible, prevent injury and improve recovery between workouts. You should also think of getting massages and using rollers between workouts to knead out tired muscles.
Eat at regular intervals
Instead of two or three large meals, start having five to six smaller meals at regular intervals. Make sure each mini meal has a good mix of carbs, proteins and fiber. Think cottage cheese spread with whole grain toast, yogurt with nuts and seeds or a chicken sandwich. As long as you keep feeding your body good quality foods, your metabolism will work efficiently to burn off fat and build muscle.
Change things up
Your body can get used to the same routine and stop burning fat or building muscle. So every month change up some part of your routine to get maximum benefit from your workout. The changes could be small such as changing the number of reps, increasing the weight of dumb bells, increasing the frequency of your workout or the amount of time you rest. Keep a journal to track your workouts and record your progress.
Train your whole body
Instead of focusing on just the upper or lower body, start working out your whole body because the more muscles you involve the greater the hormone release you’ll get from your training. This in turn will stimulate muscle growth all day long. Try working each muscle group with the same number of sets to ensure balanced training that doesn’t overstrain any part of your body and preserves flexibility.
Drink protein shakes
What you consume before and after your workout is vital in building muscle. Start with a high protein and carb meal about an hour beforehand. During the workout sip on a protein shake that has a ratio of about two grams of carbs for every one gram of protein. After the workout drink a protein smoothie within 30 minutes. Stay away from regular food after a workout because they take too long to digest and tax your body that’s trying to recover from the workout. Nykaa recommends MuscleXP 100% Whey Protein, Double Rich Chocolate
or Optimum Nutrition (ON) Serious Mass Weight Gainer Banana Powder.
Rest and recover
Make sure you get adequate rest very night. You need seven to eight hours daily. There might be days you can’t get your daily quota but try and make up for it on the weekends. At work try and stay as stress-free as possible because chronic nervousness elevates cortisol, a hormone that makes your body store fat and burn muscle.