Do's and Don't About Building Lean Muscle
Building lean muscle isn't rocket science, but there are definitely some misconceptions floating around out there that are down-right counterproductive. With so many rumors about body building being whispered about, how is a newbie to the weightlifting world supposed to know what's what? Well, we are going to take a look at some of the best ways of building lean muscle that will really work, and dispel some of the myths that you may have heard at the gym or from a friend.
So, you're hitting the gym, but you don't know where to start. You can vaguely remember one of your buddies saying that more is better, so you start piling on the weights. After a few reps, you're beat. Is that how weightlifting is supposed to be? Eh, not if you're looking for lean muscle, it's not. If you want to really define your muscles, you need to concentrate on doing more reps with a lighter load. I'm not saying to do 200 reps with the 2.5 pound hand weights, because that's just silly and time consuming. Take a moderate weight that you can comfortably lift. A good place to aim for is anywhere from 12 to 20 reps, depending on your personal endurance and physique. If you haven't really lifted much weight before, you might want to start with 20 reps using lighter weights until you can find a system that works best for your body. This may take some time, but once you find that perfect balance between weight and repetition, you can easily move up from there. Listen to your body; when the work out becomes too easy, it's probably time to increase the weight a bit.
Don't aim to spend several hours in the gym every day. Not only is overworking your muscles extremely dangerous, but it's so counterproductive that it makes me laugh! Most of us know that muscles are built by what is essentially a process of tearing and mending. Every time you give your muscles a good work out, the muscles develop little micro-tears. The body's way of repairing these tears are to knit the muscles back together, only it does so by producing new muscle to fill in the gaps--hence muscular growth. If you were to hit the weights hardcore every day for hours on end, you would be tearing and tearing at your muscles without giving them the chance to properly mend--which means that they aren't growing.
In fact, do you think a power bar or an energy shake is going to supply your body with enough energy to maintain this type of stressful schedule? Not by a long shot. When the human body is put under stress, it pulls resources from wherever it can. Normally the body would simply reach over and burn a bit of the excess fat it stores in case of an emergency, but if you've beaten your body into such a shape that it has no store of emergency energy, it's going to start breaking down muscles in a frenzied attempt to find the energy to go on.
The best way to go about building lean muscle is to pace yourself. Take one day a week to get in that super-productive weight work out, then skip a day or two and have an hour-long walk. Two days from that, you could do half an hour of Pilates (don't laugh--it's a great work out). If you limit yourself to a once-a-week weightlifting routine, you're going to get results much faster than someone who does three or four days a week of intense weight and cardio routines. This system works by giving your body enough time to recover from the muscle building you did at the beginning of the week, yet you still get to make your heart happy by giving it a few low-cardio workouts throughout the week.
So when you do hit the weights, remember to find your balance between weight and repetitions, don't get overzealous with the routine, and allow your body time to recover. Do this, and you're sure to get the results you want in a much quicker time frame.