Are you interested in bulking up but you want to do so in a natural, clean way? By changing up your diet and doing some strength training exercises daily you can build muscle in a few months. Remember that any exercise regimen takes time, consistency, and keeping to a healthy diet with the right nutrients. Building muscle also changes as you get older, so make sure to do exercises that work for you -- there is no exercise routine that is perfect for everyone.
Part One of Three:
Adjusting Your Diet
1Increase your daily calories (but not too much). In order to grow bigger, you'll need to make sure you are getting enough calories during the day. If you are burning all the calories you eat, you'll likely get thinner. Multiply your body weight by 10 or 12 (using the larger number if you are more in shape) and add on 1000-1500 calories per day.
- Make sure you are eating the right kinds of foods during the day. You don't want to increase your daily caloric consumption by eating lots of junk food.
- If you find that you are gaining a lot of weight by eating a lot of calories, consider adding some cardio into your workout to help slim down. You also might consider lowering your calorie intake. Play with it a little to figure out what are the right amount of calories for you to consume daily.
2Eat more meals throughout the day. Instead of sticking to the usual three meals a day, consider increasing your meals to six a day. Because you are consuming more calories, you'll want to spread them out more over the day. This will also help increase your metabolism and keep you from just gaining fat.
3Stay hydrated. Consuming enough water during the day, especially when you are working out, may seem obvious but it's important to make sure you aren't dehydrated, because that will cause your muscle size to suffer. Try drinking one liter of water for every 1,000 calories burned per day.
- Water is beneficial in that it helps keep energy levels up, provides lubrication between joints, regulates body temperature, and helps with digestion and absorption of nutrients, all of which are important when trying to build muscle.
4Eat muscle building foods. Your diet has one of the strongest impacts on your body, and so it's important to consume the right foods in order to build your muscle in a healthy, natural way. Try to eat more foods rich in omega-3s, omega-6s, good fats like saturated and monounsaturated fat, protein, carbs, and fiber. Some foods that provide these nutrients are:
- Eggs: contain cholesterol that is often found in steroids to help build muscle fast
- Nuts: high in protein and a good blend of fat and fiber
- Cottage cheese with live cultures: contains good cultures to help break down and absorb nutrients, and also has casein, a slow digesting dairy protein
- Chickpeas and lentils: high in carbs and fiber
- Lean beef: contains saturated and monounsaturated fat and a combination of proteins including essential amino acids and b-vitamins
- Salmon: good source of omega-3 fats
- Fermented dairy products: different from regular milk, these dairy products contain probiotics, which will help break down calories and nutrients at a faster rate
- Plain greek yogurt: contains protein and probiotics (make sure when eating yogurt you aren't eating a flavor that has a ton of sugar)
- Tuna: rich in protein
5Consume protein after a workout. After a workout you want to consume a meal or snack that is high in protein, which helps muscles recover, and fast acting carbs to restore energy. Try to eat within thirty minutes after your workout and focus on foods like nuts, fish, eggs, or a protein shake. Make sure you eat something with protein and sugar to restore energy. Chocolate milk can also be a good post workout snack.Advertisement
Part Two of Three:
Doing Strength Training Exercises
1Start with realistic expectations. You may want to bulk up fast, but remember that building muscle takes time. Practice strength training exercises daily, but make sure you are also getting adequate rest and not exhausting yourself. If you are looking to bulk up, then you may want to avoid extensive cardio because you don't want to burn too many calories before you begin targeting muscle groups.
2Warm up. Before you begin doing any strength training exercising, it's important to warm up your muscles to prevent pulling a muscle or injuring yourself. Start by doing a light jog in place, burpees, jumping jacks, or go on a walk. The goal here is not to burn a lot of calories, but to get your heart rate up before your workout.
3Target your arms. These exercises often need a barbell or dumbbells, but can be done at home. If you find that the amount of weight you are using is too easy try increasing it. Try doing three sets of each exercise with 10 to 15 reps in each set.
- Bicep curls: These can be done with a barbell or dumbbells, depending on your preference. Use enough weight that you feel resistance and slowly lift the weight towards your shoulders by curling your biceps up and then back down again. Make sure you are using the strength in your arms to lift the weights and not momentum.
- Bent over row: Start by standing with your legs straight, shoulder width apart, but your back bent over in a tabletop position. Then, lift dumbbells or barbell from the floor to your chest and back down to the floor, making sure not to let the weights touch the floor.
- Tricep kickbacks: Start in a similar position as bent rows, but don't flatten your back completely to a tabletop position. Raise arms to be even with your back and curl your elbows towards your shoulders. This is your starting position. Then, curl elbows back towards your back, making sure arms are lined up with your back (this is the kickback), and return to starting position.
4Target your abs. For many people, the abdominal area is where their weight hangs out, and they often do cardio to achieve that flat belly look. However, cardio isn't always enough to create a 6-pack, but these exercises will help you achieve that look.
- Russian twist: Start in a sitting position on the floor with legs out in front of you and knees bent. Extend your back towards the floor to get resistance in your abs, and then taking a weight with both hands twist your body from left to right, letting the weight almost touch the floor. Do 10 reps on each side and repeat twice.
- Side jackknifes: This is kind of like a side crunch, except your legs are extended. Lie on your side, with both legs extended and your arm that is touching the floor wrapped around your chest. Then, place your other arm behind your head and lift up towards your leg, lifting the top leg as you come up, and lowering the top leg as you lower your shoulders. Do this for three sets of 10 reps each.
- Candlestick dippers: This exercise will work your abs and obliques. Start by placing one knee on the ground, and extending the other leg out straight to your side. Then, clasp hands together with the pointer fingers extended, and extend arms straight overhead. This is your starting position. Then, tilt your body to the side, reaching your pointer fingers as far to the ground as you can and come back up. Do this for three sets of 15 reps each.
5Target your chest. These exercises not only build muscle in your chest but also help increase strength in your shoulders and arms. You can do these at home or in a gym:
- Plank: This targets your abs and shoulders. Lie down flat on the floor, with your hands just under your chest. Then raise up on your toes and hands, making sure your body is straight and that your butt is flat with your back, and hold for 60 seconds (or longer if you can). Repeat three times.
- Push ups: This classic move really works out your arms, chest, and shoulders. Do 10 to 15 repetitions and repeat three times, resting in between each set.
- Pull ups: You can do these using a door frame or a pull up bar. Grab the bar with palms facing away from you and pull up, doing as many reps as possible.
- Dip: Grab a chair and place your hands on both sides of the chair with your legs out in front of you and your knees bent. Bend your elbows and lower your butt to the floor and then raise it up again. Do 10 to 15 reps and then repeat three times.
6Target your lower body. These exercises will target your butt, glutes, and legs. Use a dumbbell or barbell for these exercises and try to do three sets of each exercise with 10 to 15 repetitions.
- Squats: Taking a dumbbell or barbell with as much weight as you can handle in your hands, stand up straight placing your feet shoulder width apart. Then, lower your butt as low as you can with your back remaining straight. Lift up to starting position and repeat.
- Glute bridge: Lie on your back with your arms to the side and your knees bent in front of you, hip width apart. Slowly, lift your butt towards the air, creating a straight line, and hold for two seconds, then lower back down but try not to touch the floor with your butt. To make this more difficult, extend one of your legs out in front of you so that all of your lower body weight is resting on one leg.
- Lunges: Using dumbbells, stand straight up and then step forward with one leg, bending the knee as far as possible without the knee going over the toe. Then, step back to starting position and repeat on other leg.
Part Three of Three:
Building Muscle at an Older Age
1Exercise regularly. In older adults, one of the prominent issues effecting the health of their bodies is sarcopenia, or muscle loss. In order to keep muscles strong and healthy, older adults need to exercise two to three times week, preferably incorporating some sort of strength training exercise.
- Increased muscle mass in older adults has many benefits, including aerobic capacity, better metabolism, and improved bone and joint health. Working out progressively each week can improve the health of many adults, but adults need to remember to be consistent in their workouts, because as someone ages, the effects of skipping a workout for a week are largely greater than if done at a younger age.
2Work the major muscle groups. When you first start exercising, you'll want to start with a little resistance, but not too much that you harm yourself. Start by targeting major muscle groups and doing 10 to 15 reps. Then as you get stronger you can begin to increase the resistance. Some exercises you can do to increase your strength are:
- Curl ups: This is much like a sit up. Begin on your back with your knees bent and your arms crossed over your chest. Then lift up your body as much as you can and lower back to beginning position.
- Bicep curls: Position yourself in a chair or standing and then using a weight, lift your arm, bending your elbow towards your shoulder while turning your palm up.
- Back extensions: Begin lying on the ground face down with your hands next to your chest, and then slowly lift up to a half cobra position, with your head, neck, and chest extended off the ground, then lower back down to starting position. This will help relieve any back pain and stretch out your back muscles.
- Overhead elbow extension: Start by extending your arms upward, next to your ears, but fold them over at the elbow. Then, with a weight in your hand, extend your arm and elbow towards the ceiling. Return to starting position.
- Calf raises: Start by standing straight up, then slowly lift up on your toes and lower back down to the floor.
- Knee extension: Sitting in a chair, straighten one leg out in front of you, holding for a few seconds and then return your foot to the floor. Repeat on other side.
- Sit to stand: Stand with a chair behind you, then lower yourself toward the chair as if to sit, but don't sit down completely. Then slowly rise back up to standing position. If you find these too easy you can substitute squats in their place.
- Lunges: Start by standing with feet shoulder width apart and arms by your sides or on your hips. Then, step forward with your left foot, bending your knee as far as you can, but making sure your knee doesn't go over your foot. Then, come back to standing position and repeat with right leg.
3Allow adequate rest. As you begin to age, you are more likely to have joint and muscle pain after workouts, so it's important to rest two to three minutes between sets and leaving two days between strength training workouts (you can still do cardio in between.) If you find yourself in great pain after a workout reduce the repetitions or resistance next time you work out.
4Incorporate stretches into your workout. Make sure to always warm up before a workout, and then afterwards to stretch your body out to prevent injury and cramping. Stretches should never cause pain or be done quickly. Practice breathing slowly during a stretch, holding the stretch for 20 to 30 seconds.
- To stretch the upper body and arms, do shoulder rolls and overhead reaches, and to stretch your lower body, place legs out in front of you and reach as far as you can without causing pain.
- Remember to breath when doing workouts! A tendency when exerting a lot of pressure is to hold your breath, but this can cause increased blood pressure. When doing an exercise, exhale at the difficult part of the exercise and inhale when you are exerting less pressure.
5Take vitamin D. Protein consumption often decreases with age, so you need to make sure you are eating a diet rich in protein and fiber. Vitamin D, which deals with muscle function, is also often deficient in older adults, so taking a supplement daily can help decrease muscle loss. Always ask your doctor before taking supplements.Advertisement
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