It is a well-established fact that cardiovascular exercise does wonders for the heart, blood pressure, and cholesterol level. Whether you choose to ride a bike, walk, skate or jog, any prolonged activity that increases the heart rate will help with burning calories and melting away unwanted pounds. However, strength training is essential to a balanced fitness program.
So how long is a good workout to build muscle? Increasing muscle hypertrophy and getting stronger requires getting to the gym, hitting it hard, stimulating strength and size gains, then getting out. If you have optimal conditioning, you should have the capacity to get in a high-quality, muscle-building workout in 30 to 45 minutes. This means no more than 45 to 60 minutes total, which should include warm-up time.
Executed correctly, strength training exercises play a vital role in building muscles and slowing muscle loss that comes with aging, increasing bone density, amplifying the strength of the muscles and their connective tissues, cutting the risk of injuries and helping to ease arthritis and other joint pains.
Muscle-building workouts are also extremely essential for the bones. They are preventative for problems like bone-thinning osteoporosis. Some studies have revealed that muscle-building exercises can also enhance balance, improve control of blood sugar, lower the likelihood of falls, boost mental health and provide better sleep quality. These exercises also have remarkable weight-loss benefits.
They do not only contribute to making your body more shapely and trimmer, but your muscle-building efforts help you to burn calories as well, even after you are done with the workout session. Between 3 and 4 hours following a muscle-building workout, you will still be burning calories.
Less is More
Your body is capable of naturally boosting testosterone levels considerably higher than normal when you start training. This amplified output peaks approximately 30 minutes into your workout. Studies have found that at the 45-minute mark, testosterone levels begin to decline and come back down to baseline.
After an hour of training, the body will start producing a smaller amount of testosterone and a higher quantity of cortisol. Cortisol is a hormone that consumes muscle tissue and elevates the storage of body fat. This is a scenario you should do your best to avoid.
Please note that if your nutrition level is up to par, particularly around your workout sessions, you could blunt the cortisol response to an extent. Therefore, in this case, it might not be a serious concern.
However, it should still be kept in mind that even if your nutrition is up to par, you should not push the limits of workout to a ridiculous extent. When workouts go beyond 60 minutes, recovery from one weight training session to the next could become more challenging.
If your conditioning is optimal, you should be capable of getting a lot of high-quality, muscle-building workout done in 30 to 45 minutes. This is a suitable duration for acquiring and preserving endurance and strength.
For maximum effectiveness, you should go to the gym to workout, no messing around, talking excessively or watching TV between sets; all of that can be done after your workout is complete.
Keep It Short With Effective Muscle-building Workout
A prolonged workout session is not only unnecessary, but it could also actually prove to be counterproductive. You can achieve an incredible outcome in a short session by working hard to set new personal records on effective compound exercises such as:
• Military press
• Split squat
• Dumbbell press
• Chin up
• 1 arm row
• Incline press
To get remarkable results from your training, there is no need to do more than 5 to 6 exercises in each workout session.
Maximizing Mental Focus
Another great reason for keeping your workouts short is that prolonged workouts will cause your mental focus to wane. Also, it is a real challenge to shut off outside distractions for extended periods nowadays. However, business and other responsibilities can certainly be left in the car for 30 to 45 minutes to take care of your health.
Beyond 45 minutes you will, most likely, start losing steam and it could become increasingly difficult to bring the fire. A remarkable training session is usually more effective when you know there are only 30 to 45 minutes to complete the session.
This allows you to dial in with a determined concentration on the task at hand and dominate each set of all exercises. Save any additional energy you might have left over and channel it into your next workout session.
It has been established that the central strength training session should be between 30 and 45 minutes. As it relates to warm up exercises, experts recommend that you should start each workout session with a 10 to 15-minute warm up.
This should comprise mobility drills and a variety of activation stretches and exercises. If you are older or have injuries, a longer warm-up session might be required. This is particularly true if training is done in the early mornings. Be wise and do what is necessary to prepare for your sessions. Warm up exercises and drills you can consider to include:
• Bodyweight squats
• Jumping jacks
• Scap pushups
• Shoulder dislocations
• Band pull apart
• Kettlebell halos
• Glute stretches
• Glute bridges
• Hip flexor
• Ankle mobility drills
• Thoracic extension on roller
• Side-lying clam
• Scap wall slide
• Banded split squats
• Overhead banded distractions
• Hip capsule mobilizations
To be effective, conditioning workouts do not need to last long. All that is required is roughly 10 to 20 minutes of activities, and they should never go for longer than 30 minutes. Conditioning can be done as a finisher pick some form of high-intensity movements like a bike sprint, sled push, kettlebell swing or jump rope sprint.
To accomplish this, you should do between 4 and 6 rounds of hard and fast 30-second blasts and rest 60 to 120 seconds in between rounds.
If you prefer to do conditioning as a separate exercise on strength training days or do it on your off days, the total time can be extended to 20 to 30 minutes. You do not have to do just one exercise or use only one implement.
You can consider doing a circuit of sled sprints, kettlebell swings, sledgehammer strikes, and jump rope. You can go hard for a 30-second interval, rest and proceed to the next workout; rest and then move forward to the next exercise. Be quick, go hard and keep the workout short and sweet.
Tips on Effectively Building Muscles
1. Pack in the Protein
Read food labels to have a sense of the number of calories you are already consuming. Add 500 to the number and consume that amount of calories daily. Aim to consume approximately 1 gram of protein for each pound of body weight daily to ensure that you are consuming enough protein.
2. Eat regularly
Ideally, you should consume between 5 to 6 meals per day, particularly if you don’t gain easily. As long as high-quality fuel consistently consumed, specifically carbs and protein, you will have the calories required to build muscle and boost the metabolism to burn fat.
3. Cut Down on Cardio
There is just so much cardio you can do before you start to lose muscle. To prevent this, you should engage in up to 2 days of jogging lightly on the treadmill; however, this should be kept to roughly 30 minutes for each session.
To spare muscle while losing fat, you should consider performing sprint intervals. For example, do an all-out run for 1 minute and then cut down to a light jog for 2 minutes; do these 3 times weekly for 30 minutes.
4. Reduce Your Reps
There is a rep range that optimally builds muscle. To achieve this, you should do 20 sets or less for each muscle group; doing closer to 12 would be even better. The reps you do should be between 6 and 12 for each set to maximize muscle growth.
Rather than increasing the volume, you should consider using heavier weights and using a controlled speed to move through each rep. The duration of the sets should be between 40 and 70 seconds; anything less and you would not be adequately tensing your muscles to shock them into growing.
5. Get Your Stretching On
Stretching can be static, which involves getting into and holding a stretched position, or dynamic, which involves moving in and out of positions in a fluid motion. Engaging in either type of stretching, getting massages or using a foam roller will all help in preventing injuries, keeping you flexible and improving recovery between your workouts.
6. Focus on Split or Total-body Routines
The best results from your workout will be achieved either by training your entire body in a single workout or solely focusing on the upper body in a single session and working out the lower body in another session.
Each setup has its advantages; however, both are better in comparison to trying to isolate a single muscle group in a workout session. Focus on lifts that engage multiple muscle groups at the same time; these include deadlifts, squats, rows, presses, and pull-ups.
7. Make Changes to Your Routine
Parts of your workout routine should be altered every 4 to 6 weeks. This alteration could include the exercises you do, the number of reps you execute, the amount of rest time you take or other training variables. It would also be a good idea to keep a journal of the progress you make as you advance through your workouts.
8. Incorporate Full-body Exercises
The more involved the muscles are, either in a training session or single exercise, the greater the release of the hormone will be during training; this will work to stimulate muscle growth throughout the day.
Targeting each muscle group with approximately the same volume (like 5 sets of bench presses following 5 sets of rows) will produce balanced training. This allows for quick and safe growth, prevents injuries and preserves flexibility.
9. Drink Protein Shakes
Your workout should be powered by nutrition, beginning with a high-protein and high-carbohydrate meal approximately 60 minutes ahead of your scheduled workout time. Make yourself a protein shake with a ratio of roughly 2 grams of carbs to each 1 gram of protein and sip on it for the duration of your workout.
After that, you should finish the shake or make a new one and quickly consume it. Whole foods are not ideal after working out because they take a long time to digest. You can check the prices of good protein supplements on Amazon.
10. Rest and Recover
A sleep time of between 7 and 8 hours each night is ideal. You can let loose 1 or 2 nights a week; however, when you do, you should try and make up for it as soon as possible. Do weight training no more than 4 times per week.
When it comes to your day (night) job, do whatever is in your power to avoid excessive stress; prolonged tension elevates cortisol, which is that hormone that makes the body burn muscle and stores fat.
Ideal Protein Sources that Promote Muscle Building
• Chicken Breast
Chicken breasts are viewed as a staple for muscle gain, and there are good reasons for that. They are rich in protein as each 3-ounce serving contains approximately 26 grams of top-quality protein. Additionally, they contain B6 and substantial quantities of niacin, which could be especially essential for active individuals.
These vitamins assist your body in functioning properly during exercise and other physical activities. They are necessary for optimal muscle building.
• Turkey Breast
Turkey is a good source of niacin, which assists in processing carbs and fats in the body. There are approximately 25 grams of protein and virtually no carbs or fat in a 3-ounce serving of turkey breast. Optimal B vitamin levels can help in building muscle over time.
Even though it does not contain the same volume of omega-3 fatty acids like salmon, this seafood is another protein-packed item. A 3-ounce portion size provides approximately 21 grams of protein and large quantities of selenium and vitamin B12.
Eggs contain healthy fats, high-quality protein and other essential nutrients like choline and B vitamins. Proteins comprise amino acids and large quantities of leucine, an amino acid, are in eggs; this is especially essential for gaining muscle. B vitamins are also critical for energy production.
This fish is a remarkable option for overall health and building muscles. A 3-ounce serving contains approximately nearly 2 grams of omega-3 fatty acids, 17 grams of protein and several essential B vitamins. Omega-3 fatty acids have a significant role to play in muscular health and could even boost muscle gain during workout sessions.
Other than the 20 grams of protein in each 3-ounce serving, tuna contains large quantities of omega-3 fatty acids, high volumes of vitamin A and many B vitamins like niacin B6 and B12. These essential nutrients are ideal for optimal energy, exercise performance, and overall health.
• Lean Beef
Beef contains B vitamins, high-quality protein, creatine, and minerals. Consuming lean beef can boost the quantity of lean mass achieved with muscle-building exercises.
However, it is best to eat beef that encourages muscle gain without adding excessive amounts of calories. For example, 3 ounces of 95 percent lean ground beef has a content of only 5 grams of fat and 145 calories.
Similar to beef, there are roughly 22 grams of protein in each 3-ounce serving of bison. Research has revealed that bison could be better than beef when it comes to the danger of heart disease. If you want red meat to be a component of your muscle-building diet but want something more heart healthy, you could consider eating bison instead of beef.
Many varieties of beans can be incorporated into a diet for muscle building. Popular varieties include pinto, black and kidney beans and each cup of cooked beans has a content of roughly 15 grams of protein. They are superb sources of B vitamins and fiber, and they are high in phosphorus, iron, and magnesium.
Also referred to as garbanzo beans, chickpeas are an excellent source of both protein and carbs. Each cup of canned chickpeas has a content of approximately 50 grams of carbs, which include 10 grams of fiber and 12 grams of protein.
• Protein Powders
Dietary supplements like protein powders can be highly beneficial. They are especially ideal for those who struggle to get adequate protein from foods. Dairy protein powders like casein and whey are among the most popular; however, other alternatives include pea, soy, chicken and beef protein. And, always choose the best, high-quality protein supplements. You can check the prices of good protein supplements on this Amazon link.
• Brown Rice
Although there are only 5 grams of protein in each cup of cooked brown rice, it contains the carbohydrates needed to fuel your workout. Consider eating brown rice hours ahead of your training session. This could provide your body with greater muscle-building stimulus and enable a more powerful workout.
Quinoa can assist in providing the energy needed to maximize the results of your workout. Cooked quinoa has a content of roughly 40 grams of carbs in each cup. It also contains 5 grams of fiber, 8 grams of protein and large amounts of phosphorus and magnesium, which plays a vital role in how your muscles function.
• Lean Jerky
This is ideal for those who want high-quality meat protein when they are on the go. Most of the fat is taken out from the lean jerky while it is being processed and as such, just about all calories in this food are directly derived from protein.
This nut has a mixed content of carbs, fat, and protein. A single half-cup serving contains 16 grams of carbs, 17 grams of protein and large quantities of unsaturated fat. Also, peanuts contain higher quantities of the amino acid leucine in comparison to some other plant-based products.
There are 16 grams of protein and large quantities of phosphorus, magnesium and vitamin E in half a cup of blanched almonds. Phosphorus assists your body in using fats and carbohydrates for energy during exercise and while the body is at rest.
You should make sure that you consume almonds and other nuts in moderation because their calorie content is high. A half cup of blanched almonds has more than 400 calories.
This seed contains an impressive amount of vitamins and minerals and can be grounded into flour and used to replace conventional flours. A half cup of buckwheat flour has approximately 8 grams of protein and high volumes of fiber and other carbohydrates.
Tofu is a good source of calcium, which is vital to bone health and proper muscle function. It is made from soy milk and typically used as a substitute for meat. There are 2 grams of carbohydrates, 6 grams of fat and 10 grams of protein in each half a cup serving of raw tofu.
Milk has a mixed content of fats, carbohydrates, and protein. It also contains both fast-digesting and slow-digesting proteins, which stimulate muscle growth. Individuals can boost their muscle mass by drinking milk and engaging in weight training.
Some foods can assist you in gaining lean muscle. A lot of them are packed with protein and enable the muscles to grow and recover after they have been worked out. However, consuming carbohydrates and fats is also essential to provide fuel for physical activities.
Also, a number of the previously-mentioned foods contain the minerals and vitamins required by the body to function optimally. To achieve your goal of building lean muscle, you should focus on regularly working out and consuming more calories every day from nutritious foods like those outlined above.
With all the complicated-looking equipment and buff bodies, the weight room at the gym could be quite intimidating to a beginner. Furthermore, for an individual with joint or back pain, simply picking up a dumbbell or barbell could be daunting or downright dangerous.
There is also the issue of proper technique, without which you could cause your body to undergo more harm than good, while you attempt to build muscle.
The ideal way to start is via one-on-one assistance from a qualified and experienced fitness trainer. This could be in the form of an instructor at the gym or a personal trainer you hire.
A reputable trainer is equipped to help you to achieve your personal goals and address your limitations. Also, he or she can assist you with proper alignment and execution of all the exercises.
When starting, your primary goal should be the proper technique and not heavy lifting. This is tremendously important because improperly executing a lunge or a squat could result in a knee injury.
Therefore, if a personal trainer or gym membership is not in your budget, you have the option of seeking guidance from videos, books and health-related or fitness-related websites on correctly executing the moves; ensure the sources are established and reputable.
It is essential to bear in mind that the gym is an ideal location for muscle-building exercises as it is usually outfitted with the equipment and manpower needed to maximize your gains and overall results.
In the beginning, you should go for weights that are sufficiently heavy to provide resistance but so heavy that they cause pain or strain. Experts recommend that beginners workout 2 to 3 days a week doing any muscle-building exercise.
The workout should comprise between 8 and 12 repetitions of between 8 and 10 different exercises. These workouts should be designed to target all of the major muscle groups, which are the chest, shoulders, arms, back, legs, and abdominals.
Free Weights or Weight Machines
Weight machines and free weights both work well, and some studies have found no evidence that one is better than the other. Therefore, the one that is chosen is mainly a matter of preference.
For individuals who are out of condition or overweight, weight machines are a great idea. This is because the exercises are typically performed seated and back support is usually available.
However, if weight machines are not a choice, investing some money in some resistance tubing or a set of light dumbbells could provide you with what is required to start toning your muscles.
Whichever choice you end up making, ensure your moves are kept basic at first.
Beginner Routine for the Upper Body
For your arms and the rest of the upper body, you can consider trying the exercises below:
• Reverse flies that target the back
• Chest presses
• Overhead presses that target the shoulders
• Triceps extensions or kickbacks
• Bicep curls
Beginner Routine for the Lower Body
For lower body exercises, do not start with lunges and squats as these could place too much pressure on weak joints. As an alternative, you should consider trying the exercises below:
• Hamstring curls designed to target the back of the thigh.
• Quadriceps extensions that target the front of the thigh
• Standing or side-lying leg lifts designed to target the outer and inner thigh.
It is also important to do exercises that are designed to strengthen the inner core muscles, which are located in the lower back area and the abdominals. Core stability is essential to avoid injuries. For example, an individual who has strong upper extremities but lack core stability could become injured performing a bicep curl, if he or she is unable to stabilize the trunk.
Varying your workouts will produce optimal results and prevent injuries. For example, if you work the chest, triceps, and shoulders one day, work the back, biceps, and legs in the next training session. Alternating between muscle groups provides the ones that were previously worked with plenty of recovery time.
Additionally, integrating stretching into your strength training routine will help in keeping injuries at bay. It is also essential to not push too hard. It is okay to feel some amount of discomfort in the muscle; however, feeling discomfort in the joint is not normal.
If you have been previously injured or have a health condition, you could need modified versions of some exercises, or you may have to skip them. This is when it becomes particularly essential to use the services of a fitness trainer.
Sticking With the Program
You will only achieve success if you develop a structure and be consistent in your muscle-building efforts. One way in which you can remain consistent is by charting your week of exercise routines in advance. By doing this, you will know exactly what you are expecting to accomplish for that specific period.
Having a friend become a part of your training is one of the best methods of sticking to a program, even if your friend is merely an Internet buddy. Web-based support groups and chat rooms are tremendously helpful when it comes to providing motivation.
There are millions of individuals out there who are in the same situation. Many of them regularly get online every day and provide encouragement to each other. Some individuals find this kind of day-to-day hand holding to be quite beneficial.
Perhaps the essential things you require to achieve a successful muscle-building program are acceptance and patience. Some individuals tend to look very far down the road in an attempt to see the big picture way too fast.
However, it is essential to love and accept yourself right where you are. Also, it is tremendously important for you to recognize that with hard work and dedication, you will get better each day.
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