Men’s best plan for building muscle mass
Most men not only want to get lean but also supercharge muscle growth. This makes sense as gaining muscle can become more difficult though not impossible as a man ages. All men (and women) will experience some degree of age-related muscle loss called sarcopenia. This natural part of aging begins after age 30 where 3% to 5% of muscle mass can be lost per decade. Most men will lose about 30% of their muscle mass during their lifetime.
Less muscle mass means greater weakness and less mobility, both of which may increase a man’s risk of falls and fractures. In fact, a 2015 report from the American Society for Bone and Mineral Research found that people with sarcopenia had 2.3 times the risk of having a low-trauma fracture from a fall, such as a broken hip, collarbone, leg, arm, or wrist.
But just because a man will lose muscle mass does not mean it is gone forever. It is possible to increase muscle mass lost as a consequence of aging. There is no pill, drink, or other supplement that will magically grow muscle. It does take work, dedication, and a plan, but it is never too late to rebuild muscle and maintain it.
Plan for building muscle mass
To achieve anything worthwhile in life it usually involves a plan to reach the goal. This is true especially if the goal for men is to build and maintain muscle mass preventing sarcopenia. Follow the principles of this plan and men will be well on their way to achieving the muscle mass they’ve always wanted:
1. Fuel muscles to grow
Just like fueling a vehicle, if diesel fuel is put into the tank of a vehicle requiring gasoline, eventually the spark plugs would have nothing to ignite and the engine would never start. Fueling the body is no different. To grow muscle it is necessary to fuel your body with the right kind of food. Consuming pop tarts for breakfast, white bread with bologna for lunch and a greasy hamburger and fries for dinner won’t cut it. Men need nutrient-rich foods supplying their body with the right blend of vitamins, minerals, and protein to help repair muscle tissue in conjunction with lifting weights to sculpt their physique into a lean, strong muscle bound machine.
Part of this plan for growing muscle mass is protein. Protein is a busy nutrient with many important jobs in the body. A few tasks protein performs is making hormones, enzymes, maintains proper pH and fluid balance, forms cell structure, and forms antibodies to fight infection.
One other function of protein is for growing and maintaining muscle mass. A good plan to have is to consume 25-30 grams of protein at each meal – breakfast, lunch and dinner. By distributing protein throughout the day, this means amino acids, the building blocks of protein, are available whenever the body needs them. Every day men should choose protein-rich foods such as lean beef, skinless poultry, fatty fish such as tuna, mackerel or salmon, nuts, eggs, and low-fat dairy. A good eating plan for sufficient protein at each meal might look like this:
Breakfast – 1 cup of plain Greek yogurt (some brands can have as much as 24 grams of protein per serving or one cup) with fruit and nuts mixed in.
Lunch – 3-4 ounces of sliced turkey or chicken in a sandwich, salad, and fruit.
Dinner – 4-6 ounce portion of lean beef, chicken or fish, vegetables and oven-roasted potatoes.
2. Focus on large muscle groups
Lifting weights is critical to building muscle mass. Men who are beginners should choose a weight lifting routine that is intense enough to increase protein synthesis. Men, who have been working out for some time, should add compound lifts like squats, deadlifts, pullups, bent-over rows, bench presses, dips, and military presses.
The idea is to jumpstart hypertrophy, the cellular process that spurs muscle growth. Research has found the best way to begin this process is to perform two to three sets of an exercise for six to 12 repetitions, with about 30 to 60 seconds’ rest between sets. This damages the muscle which allows protein then to come in and help build bigger muscles.
While aerobic or cardio exercise is great for heart health, men who run every day will have a hard time putting on muscle mass. To avoid this, cut back a day or two on aerobic exercise or only do it on the days when weights are not lifted.
3. Make use of whey protein powder before working out
Research has found that men who drink a shake containing amino acids and carbohydrates before working out increased their protein synthesis more than lifters who drank the same shake after exercising. The shake used contained 6 grams of protein and 35 grams of carbohydrates.
The reason why this is a good idea for building muscle mass is that exercise increase blood flow to the working tissues. By drinking a protein-carbohydrate mixture before the workout can lead to greater uptake of amino acids in the muscles. An easy way to meet this need is to mix one scoop of whey protein powder (about 20 grams of protein) in one cup (8 ounces) of milk.
4. Rest for gains in muscle mass
Men may be motivated to want to lift weights daily to see a faster muscle mass growth. Muscles grow when a person rest, not when working out. The best plan for seeing increases in muscle mass is to rest a full day after a full-body workout. Studies show that a challenging resistance training workout increases protein synthesis for up to 48 hours immediately after an exercise session.
5. Combine a carb/protein snack before bedtime
Before bedtime, eat a combination of carbohydrates and protein. The calorie and protein combination will reduce protein breakdown in the muscles while sleeping. Good examples of healthy carb/protein combos could be cottage cheese, nuts or Greek yogurt with fruit, peanut butter on whole wheat crackers or hummus with cut-up vegetables.