I love the “Top-5 Moves” articles in the magazines, and the “single-best exercise” for 6-pack abs… or the “5 Best Moves” for a perfect butt… It’s always this move, or that move.
Then there’s the “5 Weight-Loss Foods that are Making You Fat!”, and the “3 Best Superfoods” on the grocery shelves… And finally the “One Food you NEED to Burn Fat!”.
I always teach my clients, that there is a hierarchy of importance in your COMPLETE program to build more muscle mass. In this blog post, I’ll cover the top three… starting where MOST people ASSUME is the #1 secret! Actually NUMBER 3…. Weight Training!
Yes, #3… Weight Training:
Weight Training is obviously required to build muscle mass! The basic principles of mass CANNOT be overlooked. Specific Adaptation to Imposed Demand (SAID): The body adapts (with more muscle growth) to the demand put on it (heavy weights). One can argue about the minutia of percentage of one rep max load, rep range, tempo, program design, etc., etc., etc.… but in order to build muscle, you must FIRST damage that muscle with weights. This microscopic damage, repeatedly applied, in progressively greater and greater intensity IS what builds new muscle mass… BUT IT’S NOT THE MOST IMPORTANT element! This leads us to Number #2… MORE important than weight training…
I don’t care how “PERFECT” your weight training regimen is!!! A halfway decent strength training plan done half-assed, will produce MORE gains with GOOD nutrition, than the PERFECT program at MAXIMUM intensity, with a CRAPPY diet. You simply can’t out-train a crappy diet for fat loss, OR MUSCLE GAIN! You first need SUFFICIENT calories. Nobody is gaining muscle mass without providing enough fuel and raw material. If you’re not eating ENOUGH, you’re NOT making gains. Hours and hours busting your ass in the gym is ALL FOR NAUGHT… if you’re not eating enough to GROW! Second is the CONTENT of your nutrition. There is a simple mathematical formula, with no magic involved… that is protein intake. Your body is losing protein sitting still, and losing MORE when you train. That protein MUST be replaced with sufficient quality (bio-available) protein from your diet. Again… arguments can be made both ways for how much is “enough”… but I’d always error on the side of a bit TOO MUCH protein when you’re trying to build!
But… even if your routine is PERFECT, and your diet is PERFECT… there is still one element that over-rules BOTH in importance when it comes to building muscle…
Truly deep, restful sleep and recovery is THE MOST CRITICAL ELEMENT TO BUILDING MASS!
Muscle is NOT built in the gym.
Muscle is NOT built in the kitchen.
MUSCLE IS BUILT IN YOUR BED!
If you’re not sleeping soundly, 6-8 hours every night, your muscle gains WILL suffer dramatically. New muscle protein/tissue is added while you muscles are at rest, this is when you heal. The body produces growth hormone in response to deep sleep. GH is critical to men, and even MORE critical to women, as women lack testosterone. GH is the primary anabolic hormone for women. No sleep… no gains! It’s that simple.
- Get to bed early. Staying up/out late obviously cuts sleep time, but also quality.
- Get OFF your phone before bed. Science shows us that not only the brain activity, but the bright light of a screen throws off your biorhythms and disrupts sleep.
- Get to sleep the SAME TIME every night, including weekends. Nothing disrupts sleep worse than never finding a schedule/rhythm to your sleep patterns. If you’re asleep at 9pm one night, and midnight the next… all the time… you’re screwed.
- Naps are GREAT! If your schedule allows, nap every day! Not only can you get a SECOND shot of natural GH release, you get more opportunity to heal and grow. Lisa and I work an early/late split shift. We wake up at 4:30 am most days!!! Luckily, we get a 60-90 minute nap early afternoon most days. Trust me… It’s WONDERFUL for growth!
Gaining muscle takes a combined effort… Hard work in the gym, precise nutrition in the kitchen, and sound sleep at night, all contribute to better results in your physique. The most neglected… is the most important… SLEEP!!!