Whether it’s for looking great, protecting against injury, or simply feeling your best, when you build muscle naturally it is far safer than using dangerous supplements, such as steroids.
Whatever your age, gender or body type, everyone can benefit from building muscle and gaining strength.
Here Cashlady explores how to build muscle naturally, including lifting heavy weights, following the correct nutrition and recognising the importance of rest days.
The benefits of building muscle
Strength training and building muscle isn’t the preserve of extreme bodybuilders and fitness models.
Whatever your age or body type, strengthening key muscles will help you look and feel better.
You’ll also enjoy the powerful psychological benefits of being strong, from finding it easier to carry shopping bags to lifting the kids and playing sports.
Getting stronger will also help ward off against injury in your later years, as stronger muscles better protect your joints.
Finally, strength training also increases lean muscle mass, which helps your body burn calories more efficiently, even when you’re at rest.
For every pound of muscle that you gain, your body uses about 50 extra calories a day.
Most fitness experts agree that for everyone, a combination of cardio, strength training, and good nutrition is the best approach to improving fitness and bodily performance.
Build muscle naturally without bulking up
Building muscle doesn’t mean that you must ‘bulk up,’ or aim for the bodybuilder look, although as you get stronger your body is likely to become more sculpted and your muscles more defined.
Many women worry that they will gain too much muscle when building strength, making them look too big and masculine or bulky.
However, ladies can easily enjoy the increased strength and fitness that come from weight training without making themselves any bigger, because they have much less testosterone in their bodies than men.
How to build muscle naturally
Lift heavy weights
Lifting heavy weights stimulates damage in your muscle fibres, forcing your body to respond to muscle growth.
This means that as you get stronger you will regularly have to lift increasingly heavier weights, so your body builds more muscle to handle the load.
If you have never lifted heavy weights before then this can be a little intimidating at first and you will need to learn the correct form to help avoid injury.
To get started join a weightlifting class, go to the gym with a seasoned gym buddy or, if you can afford it, invest in some personal training sessions.
Learn how to do the exercises properly before you add weight and don’t rush it as an injury will only set you back.
Increasing your weights
Once you have got the hang of exercises like squats, bench presses, overhead presses it’s time to add weight.
Keep track of what weights you lift and add weight in small increments each time that you train.
If you lift 40kg on the bench press, for example, then the second time you train, add the smallest available increment, taking you to 42.5kg.
This keeps your body adapting and improving and building muscle.
Changing up your routine
While our bodies are great at adapting, it’s important to vary your training so that you don’t stagnate.
From how many repetitions you do, to how long you rest for and the types of exercises that you chose, mixing it up will keep your body performing at its best and stop it from taking any shortcuts.
Variance is good for your training but when it comes to building muscle you need to be consistent.
Keep training regularly and build in rest days for your muscles to recover.
Remember that key to getting stronger is damaging the fibres in your body, so you must give it a chance to rest and respond to that damage.
A consistently nutritious diet is also essential for building muscle, helping to fuel the growth of all your new muscle mass and activity in the gym.
You will need a surplus of calories and should eat something high in protein within 45 minutes of working out to help your body with its crucial muscle repair.