Gaining muscle not only requires an exercise regime that incorporates varied weight training exercises, but also good eating habits, an emphasis on cardiovascular fitness and sufficient recovery time between workouts. Successful weight training programs include exercises designed to efficiently break down the proteins in the various muscle groups. Periods of rest between workouts allow for regeneration and growth of muscle tissue while proper nutrition supports these workouts and makes it much easier to gain muscle.
To effectively gain muscle, it is important to keep caloric intake up and to consume more calories than the total number burned daily. Eating five to six small meals rich in protein and high quality carbohydrates throughout the day can help to boost metabolism and more efficiently burn fat. A steady intake of calories also helps to provide the energy necessary for building muscle mass.
A weight training program designed to gain muscle should target all the major muscle groups and focus on compound exercises that work more than one muscle group and joint at a time. Isolation exercises that emphasize a specific muscle can also be incorporated to target problem areas. It is generally agreed that fewer repetitions of an exercise with a heavier weight are more effective at building muscle than a large volume of repetitions with a lighter weight. Ideally, the muscles should be fatigued by the 12th repetition and once this level of fitness is reached, the weight can be increased by ten percent. It's important to remember when beginning any weight training program, that starting out slowly is necessary to help prevent injury.
When attempting to gain muscle, the recovery time between workouts is just as important as the workouts themselves. Weight training workouts should be done two to three times a week with at least one day of rest in between. This day of rest between workouts helps give fatigued muscles time to recover. On days off, stretching can help relieve sore muscles and maintain flexibility. It is also recommended to incorporate moderate cardiovascular exercise either before a weight training workout or on days off to maintain cardiovascular fitness. To keep from burning too many calories and slowing muscle growth, it is best to stick to low-intensity exercises two to three times a week.
Weight training exercises tend lose their effectiveness over time. To continue to gain muscle, it will be important to change one's workout routine every four to eight weeks. One way to alter a workout is to swap a basic compound exercise for another equivalent exercise that works the same muscle groups, but in a different way. Modifying the number of repetitions or the rest intervals between exercises can also be an effective way to continue to gain muscle over time.