If you’re trying to build lean body mass, it’s important that your body be in an anabolic state. An anabolic state is one where your body is building and repairing muscle fibers, not breaking them down. It’s the opposite of a catabolic state where you’re breaking down muscle tissue to supply your body’s energy needs. One of the main reasons people fail to see muscle development is because their body isn’t staying in an anabolic state. One way you can correct this problem is by changing your diet – but that’s not the only factor. Here are four things you can do to help your body better respond to the muscle-building exercise you’re doing.
Don’t Skimp on Protein
If your diet is wrong, you can lift challenging weights to failure three times a week and still not see muscle definition. If you’re trying to build lean body mass, you need more than the 0.8 grams of protein per kilogram of body weight that a sedentary person needs. You should be getting between 1.2 to 1.6 grams per kilogram of weight to give your body the extra protein it needs for growth and repair.
Timing of the protein you consume is important too. There’s a window period after a workout where eating a protein snack will prevent protein breakdown and keep your body in an anabolic state. You also need carbohydrates after exercise to replace glycogen and stimulate insulin to help the protein enter muscle cells where it can be used. A snack consisting of 30-40 grams of carbs and 20-30 grams of protein is sufficient if you’re an average-sized person trying to build.
Consume the Right Carbs
Another mistake some people make is to restrict carbs too much. Your body needs a certain amount of carbohydrates for energy, especially if you’re doing high-intensity exercise. If you don’t supply it with enough calories and carbs, it’ll enter a catabolic state, not the anabolic one you need to build muscle. Your diet should consist of around 50% carbohydrates, 30% protein and 20% healthy fats – but choose the right carbs. Fiber-rich fruits and vegetables and whole grains are the best choices – not processed carbs.
Give Your Body Adequate Rest
Sleep and rest are as important as diet for keeping your body in an anabolic state. It’s during sleep that you release the greatest amounts of muscle-enhancing growth hormone. Not getting enough shut-eye can reduce the amount of total growth hormone your body is exposed to over a 24-hour period. That’s not good if you’re trying to achieve an anabolic state. Plus, growth hormone stimulates fat breakdown. That’ll help reveal the muscles you’re working so hard to develop. Remember that your body builds and repairs muscle while you’re resting, so don’t overtrain and under-sleep. Get a minimum of seven hours or sleep a night – and eight hours is better.
You’ll get the best anabolic response when you lift heavy weights to failure, work large muscle groups and do compound exercises like squats, deadlifts, chest press and push-ups. Make sure these exercises are part of your routine and that you’re using a weight heavy enough to make it difficult to do more than 10 to 12 reps with good form. If you’re lifting lighter weight and doing more than 16 reps, you’re building more muscle endurance less strength and hypertrophy and won’t get the same metabolic response. Sprints and high-intensity interval training also boost growth hormone and testosterone and send your body into an anabolic state. You won’t build significant lean body mass doing a high-rep workout.
The Bottom Line?
If you’re trying to build lean body mass, make sure you’re keeping your body in an anabolic state through nutrition, proper training and rest. If not, you won’t get the muscle definition you’re looking for.
SelfGrowth.com. “Six Proven Ways to Boost Growth Hormone Naturally”
Med Sci Sports Exercise; 38(11): pp 1918-1925. 2006.