So, you want to bulk up the natural way. Great. But what does this actually mean? These days the line between what is natural and what isn’t, is blurred to say the least.
Even though many bodybuilding supplements are derived from natural sources, lets say for the purpose of this article, that ‘natural’ means no bodybuilding supplements.
Gaining lean muscle without the aid of bodybuilding supplements, requires a balance between a good diet and a good workout schedule.
Whether you are skinny, overweight or average in build, it is about finding the balance that works for you.
Gain lean muscle with a good diet
If you want to bulk up, you need to be feeding your body enough fuel to make this possible. So this means more calories.
Not only so you have the energy to perform the exercises necessary to achieve your goals, but also so your body has the materials it needs to build the muscle you’re after.
What makes up a good diet? It needs complete proteins, such as lean meats, nuts, seeds, beans, dairy and soy products.
It also needs complex carbohydrates such as whole grain breads, whole grain pastas, brown rice, nuts, beans and green leafy vegetables.
Your body also needs a healthy amount of good fats, that can be found in foods such as; olive oil, salmon, seeds, nuts, avocados and eggs.
If you are aiming at eating a specific number of calories per day, to assist you in maximising your muscle gaining potential, then work towards eating 40% protein 40% Carbs and 20% fats as a means of gaining these calories.
Eating foods at the right time is just as important as eating the right foods, so when is the right time? The answer is often!
If you are doing regular exercise throughout the day then you need ensure that you are eating regularly, in order to keep the body topped up with the fuel to keep going and the materials to keep building!
A good way to set this out is to ensure you have 4 main meals in the day, plus at least one ‘snack’ meal.
Try to make sure you get the majority of your carbohydrates in your breakfast and post workout meal, as these are the times your body needs the most energy.
Keep your evening meal lighter and focus more on protein instead.
Exercise for lean muscle gains
We all know that exercise is integral to gaining lean muscle naturally, but it is important that we know what kind of exercise to focus on.
Doing excessive amounts of cardio may actually hinder your muscle building plan, as it uses up huge amounts of the energy we have stored to aid us in building muscle.
But don’t dismiss it all together!
Many studies have shown that short doses of high energy cardio, such as sprinting, not only helps reduce fat and preserve muscle, but can also increase muscle tone.
Try keeping your cardio down to 20 minutes, and aim for 3-4 times per week.
It doesn’t matter what body part you are focusing on, if you don’t push yourself and aim to gradually increase the weight, then you’re not going to increase your muscle mass.
So aim for 80% of your one-rep max, and stretch for a count of 10-12 reps. This way you will be stressing your muscles enough to repair and rebuild, without straining yourself.
Don’t underestimate the importance of rest days. You may think rest is for slackers, but it is in these rest periods that the actual muscle growth happens.
So make sure you incorporate rest days into your schedule, and that you ensure you get enough hours of sleep each night.
Remember, both diet and exercise are the keys here. You can’t focus on one without the other if you want to succeed.