There are several factors that come into play in regards to increasing mass and becoming physically bigger. The first and foremost response I will always give is you have to resistance train. That doesn’t mean using bands a few times a week and doing rotator cuff exercises. Now these are great and will help prevent injury but they aren’t going to make you stronger. You have to get into the gym and lift heavy things. Now while that does sound outdated, it is the most efficient way (that is natural and healthy for the body). If you don’t believe me go back and watch any Rocky movie during the training montages. I’m not saying you need to find a barn in the middle of the Russian tundra and run through knee deep snow…unless you want to, but nothing beats good old fashioned weight training. Find yourself a qualified sports performance coach to design a program for you to follow under there instruction.
Once you’ve established a resistance training program it’s time to tackle the nutrition side of things. After all, what good is building muscle without the fuel to keep it growing? Protein is the building block for muscle, so every meal should contain adequate amounts. The quality of the protein and fat can play a big role as well. Great sources are Omega-3 hormone free eggs, grass-fed beef, free range hormone free chicken, wild-caught fish, nuts/seeds, olive oil, coconut oil, avocados, and hummus to name a few. Whole food options should always take priority in a meal plan when compared to shakes and bars. Protein shakes and bars make great alternatives and quick replacements but also contain a lot of sugar and artificial sweeteners. If you are going to use a protein for after workouts I suggest using a whey protein that is sweetened with stevia.
Foods such as cereals, waffles, pizza, pasta, breads, junk foods etc. do not provide us with the protein and/or fat that we need to create the size we desire. A solid weight training program is only as good as the fuel you are utilizing before and after. The above mentioned foods are not adequate when compared to chicken, beef, eggs, fish, nuts, and healthy oils. Consuming adequate fibrous vegetables will also ensure you get proper nutrients and vitamins.
You should aim for about 30-35g (6oz) of protein at every meal. It takes the body approximately 3.5 hours to metabolize 30g so this is a good time frame to shoot for when considering protein intake for increased mass. A good daily range for active people to aim for is roughly 0.8g protein/lb bodyweight. Pairing quality protein with an adequately designed resistance training program will optimize your ability to add lean muscle and increase size.
What are some basic nutrition tips I can start implementing in my lifestyle?
These simple nutrition tips paired with a resistance training and high intensity sprints will lead to better performance, increased fat loss, increase in lean muscle gains, improved mood and sleep, and overall better lifestyle.
- Focus on natural foods as much as possible. Sugary cereal, sports drinks, and candy etc. are not natural!
- Eat breakfast, yes this is surprising but start the day by getting fuel in the body. You can’t go wrong with eggs!
- Protein! As an athlete it’s very important to consume enough protein to facilitate muscle growth. Try to get protein from food before shakes and bars…think fish, eggs, meat, chicken, turkey. Be sure to get some protein with every meal and especially after workouts.
- Don’t be afraid of fat. Fat provides lasting energy while keeping us full. Just be sure to consume the right kinds of fat such as eggs, fish, avocados, olives, coconut oil, various nuts and seeds etc.
- Veggies! Yes I know they aren’t nearly as delicious as that Pumpkin Spice Latte but this is where you get your vitamins and nutrients to support your body. Some of the best to eat are broccoli, spinach, kale, and cauliflower
- Drink water and not sugary energy drinks, sports drinks, soda, or even that mocha frappuccino.
At the end of the day remember to K.I.S.S. (Keep It Simple Smart). Think of your body as an exotic sports car and the food you eat as the fuel. Feed your body with top of the line fuel to function the best you can!
How much water should I be drinking?
A topic as simple as water consumption is often overlooked and can easily be the biggest detriment to performance. A drop of 1.5% in water levels can translate to a drop of 10% of your maximal strength. The best way to make sure you aren’t losing too much water during training, practices, or games is to weigh yourself before and immediately after. If you are consuming adequate amounts of water you will weigh the same.
Here is another simple way to determine if you are drinking enough water:
Aim to consume 0.5 ounces per pound of bodyweight
Therefore 70 ounces for a 140 lb person
Other factors will require higher water consumption such as more intense prolonged workouts, higher temperatures and humidity, genetics, body size and weight. These factors might require a water intake in the ranges of:
0.6-0.7 ounces per pound of bodyweight
70-80 ounces for a 140 lb person
Try to avoid relying on sugary sports drinks and sodas to re-hydrate…stick to water!
Staying hydrated can also help to avoid injuries. An important sign to pay attention to is if you’re exercising when it’s hot out and you stop sweating, you are dehydrated and approaching heat exhaustion. Stop and drink water.