how to build muscle

Let’s face it; more is more when it comes to biceps, glutes and ab definition – well, a recent poll by shows that the ladies seem to think so anyway. Being blessed with a manic metabolism means knowing you’ll never get manboobs but bulking up can be challenging. Here’s how to build toned muscle mass safely and naturally.

Eat like a champ: Go for protein, healthy fats, beans and legumes

Exercising revs up an already fast metabolism so eat more – specifically, more protein – than you normally would, and then some more. Eliminate the foods stopping your body from metabolizing the protein required to pump up those pecs. The main culprits are liquid ones, such as alcohol and fizzy drinks. These drinks are high in sugar and often saturated with sodium too. Switch to what nature intended instead: water.

The two Ps – protein and fibre – are essential. These are the building blocks for both muscle gain and metabolic fuel.  Good sources of protein are lean meats such as chicken, beef and pork, minus the fat. Looking for fish sources? Go for Omega-3 rich tuna, shrimp, crabs, oysters and scallops. Add eggs and avocado to your protein list: avocado also contains healthy fat and is one of the best green sources of Omega-3.

If you’re full of beans, that’s great! Tofu, edamame, red beans, bean sprouts and other legumes are super low-fat sources of fibre and protein. Also radically reduce your carbohydrate intake. Swap the stir-fried or steamed rice for greens as much as possible. It doesn’t have to be dull; you can order in a healthy meal with bok choy or also get creative and make zucchini pasta. Slice the zucchini lengthwise finely and cook it rapidly in water, or use a stick blender to finely chop cauliflower for cauliflower rice.

How much protein should you pack in?  

Normal intake is the size of your fist – about 30g to 40g per serving. In order to bulk up, you’ll need to eat much more. Remember to add green vegetables and fibre as well. Aim for portions that work with your body and not against it.

Radish and Fava Bean Salad” (CC BY 2.0) by JamesCohen

There’s no need to avoid your favourite treats, provided you’re not actually defaulting to takeaways. Enjoy your chop suey, sweet and sour pork or curry minus the rice, or with just a small serving. Complement it with delicious vegetable stir-fry instead.

Drink a whey-based protein shake 30 minutes before you train, first thing in the morning, after you exercise, or between meals instead of a healthy snack. Another good and safe supplement is Creatine. Add 5g to 10g of creatine to your after-workout shake.

Targeted weight training

The correlation between weight training and muscle gain is simple: no pain, no gain! Go flat out for four days of the week as long as you’re giving your body enough fuel, but allow yourself a rest day in between. Your body needs to recover.

Doing squats, deadlifts and compound exercises that target each muscle group is the holy grail. Add more weights as your body adjusts, and do your reps through to failure. This means that you should repeat the arc of your exercise slowly until your body can’t repeat the movement.

Keep going at a steady pace and soon enough the results of all the hard work will speak for themselves.


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