How to Build Muscle – the Right Way (Part III – training for hypertrophy)

In Part I and Part II of these series, we have looked at factors that are necessary to support muscle hypertrophy.  The primary trigger, however – a trigger, without which all of the previously discussed contributing factors are going to remain largely useless – is exercise.

The truth is – if you don’t train your muscle – it won’t grow.  No matter what magic pills, powders and potions you take. Hypertrophy is triggered by exercise and you need to know how to exercise properly, to produce maximum hypertrophy.

When you train to grow muscle, you get both sarcoplasmic hypertrophy (increase in the volume of muscle sarcoplasm – the liquid that surrounds your muscle cells) and myofibrillar hypertrophy (the actual increase in the size of muscle fibers).  We have briefly discussed sarcoplasmic hypertrophy when we covered creatine supplementation in Part I.  The volume of sarcoplasm also increases with the increase in stored muscle glycogen, since each glycogen molecule requires four molecules of water for storage (this is why you might have heard that initial weight lost by people who go on carb-restricting diets is “water weight” – as glycogen is being used up, the water is being released).  Although some people view sarcoplasmic hypertrophy as “non-functional” and temporary, it does, after all, contribute to the overall muscle size.  In addition, some researchers theorize that increasing pressure of sarcoplasm against cell walls triggers the reinforcement of cell walls through growth of actual muscle fibers.

In most cases, however, most bodybuilders target myofibrillar hypertrophy, which happens when the rate of protein synthesis surpasses the rate of protein breakdown in muscle.  This is the real muscle growth that should also result in strength increase giving you not just better looks, but also the functional benefit.

There are many variables that you can manipulate – weight, speed, total exercise time, rest time, number of repetitions, number of sets, number of sessions per week, etc.  To get the best results you have to choose the right approach – and to do that, you need to understand what causes muscles to grow.

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How to build muscle – the right way (Part II – supplements)

(Continued from Part I – Rest, Recovery and Nutrition)

Bodybuilding supplements for muscle growth

You may be impatient to get to the exercise part, but exercise by itself would do little if you don’t address other pillars of building muscle.  We talked about the importance of nutrition and recovery in Part I.  We will discuss exercise last, in Part III, where we will cover the science behind muscle growth, common misconceptions in bodybuilding and sample protocols.  But for now let’s talk about a few important supplements.

We’ve already discussed protein supplementation in Part I.  Can you build muscle without protein powder, simply consuming whole protein sources?  Probably – but it’s going to be extremely hard to do when you consider necessary food volumes, cost-effectiveness, convenience and other factors.  From that perspective, it is pretty much a necessity.

There are several dozens of protein powder supplements on the market.  They come in the form of concentrates, isolates or hydrolysates.  In terms of protein type – the powders can be derived from whey, casein, egg, even beef.  Vegetarian protein powders are predominantly made of pea, rice, soy or hemp.   What to choose?

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How to build muscle – the right way (Part I – Rest, Recovery and Nutrition)

Most of the time, women’s fitness and athletic goals do not involve gaining muscle. If anything, becoming “bulky” and “too muscular” remains the biggest and largely unfounded fear that, sadly,  stops most women from touching heavy weights and leads to compromises with cardio and safe and “female-friendly” exercise machines, instead.   Nevertheless, the principles described in this article are equally applicable to women, although they will not result in significant muscle growth because of the lack of sufficient testosterone in females with normal hormonal balance.  Testosterone plays a key role in muscle growth and, while most women still have this hormone in their system, the levels are not nearly comparable to the levels usually present in males.  That said – what is discussed here would still help women get better muscle tone, definition and strength, while reducing fat storage – so, while “building muscle” is the central theme of this article, most of it is still valid for all the ladies out there in the context of just getting in better shape.

Men of most ages and all generations, on the other hand, have been asking themselves this question – how do I gain more lean muscle?  Shredded physiques displayed on covers of glossy magazines and Hollywood actors demonstrating seemingly impossible physical transformations in what seems to be only a few months blow the minds of striving fitness enthusiasts – both young and mature – who want to achieve the same.  We will discuss a few major principles, debunk myths and cover important tips on how to add and keep more muscle mass.

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The Ultimate Alpha’s guide to Intermittent Fasting

When I first heard about intermittent fasting, just because the phrase included the word “fasting” – my immediate reaction was to dismiss it.  I’ll be honest – I’m not a big fan of fasting in general.  I feel like the majority of fasts are either too heavily influenced by religious beliefs with no regard to health benefits or hazards, or are too esoteric and “woo-woo” and bear very little connection to real science behind them.

Religious or spiritual fasts are often aimed at achieving a specific state of mind (with no regard to what this does to your body).  They restrict the wrong kind of foods (most partial religious fasts restrict animal fats and protein, while being very lenient with simple carbs) or restrict too much for too long (which also deprives your body of important minerals and nutrients and leads to the breakdown of healthy tissue in an attempt to survive).

In terms of non-spiritual dietary fasting – there is just not enough consistency among different protocols.  Some allow liquids (usually water, but a few offer other exotic options, such as various juices, etc.) and some do not.  Some only exclude a specific class of food and some restrict all of them. Some may seem like an attempt to improve health, but utilize some esoteric concepts behind them, like “cleansing” (which, I despise because of all the misinformation surrounding it).  And a large number of fasts are just poorly designed dietary fads, relying too heavily on the “novelty factor” and marketability.

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On Time Management and Setting Priorities

So many people wish they had 48-hour days to be able to do more.  “Time Management” – a term that was unheard of several decades ago – is, all of a sudden, a very hot topic because of the demands of the modern era and its information overload – these days you are expected to be able to handle more things than ever before.

Not having enough time (or not being able to find time when truly necessary) is one of the most important reasons for not reaching your true potential.  You wish you were fit, but you can’t find time to go to the gym.  You wish you learned a new skill, but can’t find time to study, because [insert your own reason].  You have an important project due at work, but between your current tasks and emergencies – don’t know how to squeeze in the hours needed to work on it.

Your to-do list keeps growing and growing and soon enough – you have so many items that you are stressed even thinking about them.  How many times did you find yourself lost because you had to tackle a huge list of activities, all of which seemed equally important, and didn’t know where to start?

Well, how about starting with these few tips as your guiding principles?

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