Want to build muscle as you lose weight? Try these six tips to help your body to get lean and strong.
After fat loss, one of the most common fitness goals is muscle building. It takes a bit of work to get those strong, sexy muscles on your frame, but its worth the effort. Plus, you’ll be building your overall health as you stick to these tips.
The best ways to build muscle are time-tested and fairly straightforward. Remember, patience and consistency which will make all the difference here, so come up with a plan to implement these tips, and stick with it!
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1. Eat Protein
Nothing else on this list that will make much of a difference if you do not follow this step. You can lift weights all day, every day – but you will never see proper results if you are not consuming enough protein. (1, 2)
So, how much protein do you actually need? Start by shooting for one gram per pound of body weight, per day. The type of protein is really important here, and complete proteins are far better for you than incomplete ones, like beans. Instead, dig into some Paleo-friendly proteins like grass-fed beef, pastured chicken, farm fresh eggs, sardines, nuts and chia seeds to help you build muscle.
Interestingly, scientists find that a vegetarian diet is associated with lower muscle mass than an omnivorous diet – with the same protein intake. (3) This is another reason why a Paleo diet is ideal – it provides higher-quality, more bioavailable protein needed to build muscle.
2. Do High-Intensity Interval Training
No need for long, grueling workouts. High-intensity interval training (HIIT) allows you to build muscle in a very short time. In fact, if you are not doing this, you may be losing muscle mass – even if you’re strength training. That is because long bouts of cardio at low intensity can decrease your muscles’ ability to absorb glucose (by immobilizing the glucose transporter).
How do you perform HIIT workouts? It’s pretty simple, just go for all-out bursts of exercise, followed by short periods of complete rest. Think sprints, push-ups, pull-ups or squats, then a rest period of 1 minute. Try these 10 Minute HIIT Wall Workout to get started.
Remember, muscle grows while you rest, so do not perform HIIT workouts more than three or four times per week.
3. Lower Your Stress Levels
One of the biggest issues with both fat loss and muscle growth is the impetus of a chronically high stress level. Of course, we could all use less stress – but it can be difficult to actually make this happen. Say no to activities that do not serve you, try decluttering and organizing your home, or even go as far as leaving that high-stress job.
The bottom line is that you can’t grow muscle if your body is constantly stressed. What works best for muscle growth is short, acute periods of healthy stress, like lifting weights, followed by long periods of rest – sort of like our caveman ancestors!
4. Intermittent Fast
If you’re already highly stressed, work on step three before you even think about trying this step. But for those that are well-rested, live low-stress lifestyles and have a healthy metabolism, intermittent fasting might be a good option.
Intermittent fasting involves consuming all of your calories within a certain window of time. For example, from seven in the morning to seven at night, you might not eat anything. Or you can eat breakfast and lunch, but not dinner. This would effectively have you fasting for 16-18 hours per day.
5. Lift Large
Another way to maximize muscle growth is to simply lift something heavy! I don’t mean that you want to lift to the point of utilizing poor form – but to the point where you are challenged and stressed by the weight.
A good rule of thumb (though you should always use a spotter for this approach) is to make sure your last repetition of your last set is severely challenging. This is not a step for complete beginners, but can be properly utilized by those who have some background in strength training.
Shorter, heavier sets, like five repetitions instead of eight, will help “shock” your muscles into continuing to grow stronger. Another way to implement this is to simply have one day per week of heavy lifting, followed by a few, less intense days. Remember – don’t overdo it, and get plenty of rest afterwards will help you achieve your goal!
6. Sleep More
We know that it can be difficult for those who live high-stress lifestyles to “unwind” at the end of the night. But sleep is essential for muscle growth, as growth hormone is secreted as we sleep. (5, 6)
While getting your eight hours of uninterrupted sleep is ideal, it’s just as important to focus on the quality of your sleep. Make sure your room is quiet and dark, and definitely don’t fall asleep with the tv on – toxic blue light disrupts melatonin production, setting you up for a hormonal imbalance.
The Bottom Line
Though it will take time, patience and discipline to see these changes, you will see real results if you eat a protein-rich Paleo diet, get lots of high quality sleep, and lift heavy weights. Before you know it, you’ll be leaner, more muscular and healthier – and your brain and body will thank you for it.
(Read This Next: These 10 Yoga Power Poses Are Better Than Most Weight Lifting Routines)
If you’re struggling to lose weight, there’s a good chance
your cravings are to blame. With this meditation
technique, you can start controlling them today.
If you’re struggling to lose
weight, there’s a good
chance your cravings are to
blame. With this meditation
technique, you can start
controlling them today.