If you are a skinny person, you have probably heard so from others around you. Sometimes, it can make you feel good. But most of the time, especially if you are a male, you will find people equating your lean body to being physically weak. This places an inordinate amount of pressure on you to live up to the societal image of what a “man” should be. While it is important to be comfortable in your own body, you may be looking to gain muscle mass for your own satisfaction. In this article, we shall see some ways to gain muscle mass naturally.
Exercises to Gain Muscle Mass:
One tip to gain muscle mass is to remember to keep the exercise duration under an hour. What matters when you are trying to gain muscle mass is not the length of the time you spend working, but rather the intensity. High-intensity training produces more effective results that marathon training sessions.
1.) Lift Weights to Gain Muscle Mass
These exercises are a staple for any program to gain muscle mass. Most of these exercises require a spotter. So try these out with a gym buddy. Remember, safety first!
- Barbell Squat or Back Squat: Set the bar at the correct height for you. It should be low enough for you to take off the pegs. Position your feet under the bar and keep a tight grip distance from the bar. Keep your chest up and elbows pointed down. Once you unrack the bar, squat as low as is comfortable for you. The rule of thumb is to squat slightly below parallel. This works your muscles efficiently. Raise yourself back up and squeeze your glutes while doing so. All the while, keep your knees pressed outwards and your body tight. Repeat this 5 times to make a set. Now repeat 5 sets.
- Barbell Bench Press: Lie back on a flat bench. Make sure your neck is well supported. Now position your feet firmly on the ground. Lift the barbell and hold it straight above your chest, with your arms locked. Inhale slowly as you bring the bar down to just touch your middle chest. Exhale as you push the bar back up. Repeat this 5 times to make a set. Repeat 5 sets.
- Barbell Deadlift: Position yourself so that the bar is centered over your feet. And your feet should be hip-width apart. Bend at the hip to pick the barbell up. Take a deep breath and lower your hips till your shins come in contact with the bar. Look forward, keep your chest up and back arched. Lift the barbell up and then slowly lower it back down. Repeat this 5 times to make a set. Repeat 4 sets.
2.) Gain Muscle Mass with Curls
- Barbell Curl: Stand with your torso upright and hold the barbell in front of you with a shoulder-width grip. Tuck your elbows close to your torso and face your palms forward. Hold your upper arms stationary and curl the weight towards you. Breathe out while doing this and contract your biceps. Remember to only move your forearms. Once the bar is at your shoulder level, hold this contracted position for a second. Squeeze the biceps hard. Now slowly bring the bar back to the original position and inhale. Repeat this 5 times to make a set. Repeat 5 sets.
- Incline Dumbbell Curl: Sit and lean back on an incline bench. Keep a dumbbell in each hand, held at arm’s length. Tuck your elbows close to the torso and keep your palms facing forward. Keep your upper arms stationary and curl the weights toward you. Contract your biceps as you breathe out. Once the dumbbells are at shoulder level, hold this contracted position for a second. Inhale while slowly bringing your arms down to the initial position. Repeat this 5 times to make a set. Repeat 5 sets.
- Lying Leg Curl: You will need a leg curl machine. An angled one is better than a flat one. Keep your torso flat on the bench and stretch your legs out fully. Grab the side handles of the machine. Point your toes straight forward. Exhale and curl your calves up as far as possible, keeping the thighs flat on the bench. Hold the contracted position for a second. And now, inhale and slowly drop your legs back down. Repeat 10 times to make a set. Repeat 5 sets.
3.) Full Body Workout to Build Muscles
It is also important to dedicate 1 training session per week to a full body workout. By working out more muscles, your body will produce more of the hormone, testosterone. And this helps to stimulate muscle growth to gain muscle mass. In addition, this helps to preserve flexibility and limit chances of injury.
- Warm Up: High knee is a good cardio blast that gets your muscles loose and your heart pumping. Run in place for 30 seconds for one set. Lift your knees above the hip level. Pump your legs and arms. Repeat 3 sets, and take rest between each set with the time declining from 20 seconds to 15 seconds and then 10 seconds.
- Work Out Upper and Lower Body: Now perform a series of upper and lower body exercises, alternating with each do that one area can recover while the other works. First, start with 1 set of squats. Then move to push ups. Rather than counting the number of push-ups in a set, complete as many as you can in 20 seconds. Follow this with 1 set of single leg glute bridge. Now do 1 set of lateral bounds. The next workout is the chair dip. Do 1 set of this. Follow up with 1 set of planks. Finish up the workout with 1 set of burpees. Each set should last for 20 seconds only.
- Cool Down: Now it is time to cool down your muscles. This is important to avoid sore and tense muscles. Perform 1 set of jumping jacks for 30 seconds.
4.) Change Routine to Gain Muscle Mass
It is necessary to change up your exercise routine to gain muscle mass every once in a while. Simply change a part of the regime, whether it is the amount of rest time between each exercise or the number of repetitions you do. In addition, you can change the order of exercises, or even change one or two exercises in your regime.
In doing so, you do not allow your body to fall into a predictable routine. This way you can shock your muscles into better growth. Try to change something around every 4-6 weeks. It is easy to do this if you keep a journal to record your progress. Furthermore, it is important to keep doing stretches between your exercises. This keeps you flexible, and also helps to prevent injuries and improve recovery between workouts.
5.) Rest and Recover
You must remember to get the ideal amount of sleep every night in order to gain muscle in a healthy manner. This is usually 6-8 hours per night for adults. Also, you need to perform only the right amount of exercise before you cross over into overtraining. But performing too little exercise makes it almost impossible to properly build muscles. Hence, the perfect amount of exercise is what is called the “exercise sweet spot”.
The best way to do this is to allow one day of rest between each workout session. This is especially relevant for beginners. Ideally, you must only have intense workouts 4 times a week. Once you are more experienced, you must take some time out to recharge yourself every 4-6 weeks. It can be also termed as a de-loading phase. This includes reducing the amount of weight you lift during workout sessions. Outside of this, you should try to avoid stress. Experiencing excess stress, or constant stress, will elevate the levels of cortisol. This is a hormone that can lead to sleep disruption. It also leads to gaining more fat rather than muscle mass.
Foods to Gain Muscle Mass:
1.) Gain Muscle Mass with Chicken
Chicken is known to be a high-quality protein. This protein is excellent for maintaining muscle, bone health, and weight. Chicken is an easy protein to cook and incorporate into your meal plans. Simply pick up single serving sizes of chicken for your meal. Season it with pepper or herbs, or make a nice chicken stir-fry with some vegetables. (Note: Do try to stay away from using butter or margarine and the like for seasoning).
2.) Build Muscles Faster with Eggs
Eggs are a good food to gain muscle mass. It contains over nine essential amino acids, Vitamin D, choline. It even contains a right kind of fat. In addition, they are inexpensive and easily available. And as supported by numerous studies, eggs are not harmful to your health.
3.) Cottage Cheese to Gain Muscle Mass
As we know, proteins are essential to gain muscle mass. But perhaps you chose to pursue a vegetarian lifestyle. Or you simply want to switch up proteins. Cottage cheese is an excellent alternative. This food item is made up of almost entirely pure casein protein. This is a slow-digesting protein which makes it excellent for muscle maintenance. Also, it is a good source of vitamin B12, calcium, and other important nutrients essential for maintaining bone and muscle health.
4.) Fruits and Vegetables
Another source of nutrition to gain muscle mass is various fruits and vegetables. These are a rich source of antioxidants, which aid in the healthy functioning of the immune system. And they are rich in other essential nutrients like Vitamins E and C, and beta-carotene. But most of all, fruits and vegetables contain essential fibers that are necessary for proper digestion and nutrient uptake.
5.) Whole Grains
Finally, another essential food group to gain muscle mass are the whole grains. Choose to go for whole grains over refined ones as they digest more efficiently and contain more nutrients. Particularly, brown rice is a good way to help boost the growth hormone levels in your body. This hormone encourages muscle growth, strength gain, and fat loss.