February 10, 2023 4 min read
I spoke earlier this week and I received some questions regarding the building and preservation of muscle tissue so I decided I would take a little more time and provide a bit more clarity on the subject.
When it comes to building or maintaining muscle, it really comes down to a three pronged approach…
These three aspects are each significant in their own unique ways when it comes to maximizing and building muscle tissue so that we can look our best, feel our best, and perform at our best.
Let's start by breaking down each aspect and how they contribute to our ideal physique and performance/health goals…
Let's start with the diet.
The saying “you can’t out-train a poor diet” is absolute truth.
Sure there are genetic outliers who can get away with things to some extent, however for the majority of us this isn’t the case!
When constructing our diet, we want to put a priority on protein consumption. Protein is the building block for muscle tissue and we need to be consuming adequate amounts in order to preserve and/or build our bodies.
And no you do not need to be eating 300 grams of protein or more like we would hear in the old days. That’s insane!
A solid rule of thumb for most people would be to aim for a protein goal related to bodyweight or goal weight.
For simplicity let's use 1 gram of protein per pound of body weight or goal weight. (Example, a 200 lb man who wants to stay at 200 lbs would consume 200g of protein per day. If that same person wanted to go from 200 lbs to 210 lbs he would need 210g per day)
The rest of the diet (fats,carbs) would then be backfilled based on caloric demands.
Fats are necessary for proper hormone production and bodily function so we want to make sure we are consuming adequate amounts to ensure we are producing the hormones needed to assist in the muscle building process.
Carbohydrates are not necessary, however they provide the energy we need to be able to get through our day and especially to perform our best during our workouts.
Prioritize carbohydrate intake around your workout window (before and after) or when you will be most physically active.
Caloric intake is very individualized and would have to be adjusted per person, however as a general rule, if growth is the goal we need to be in a slight caloric surplus each day and if fat loss is the priority, a slight deficit is the path.
So that gives a very basic breakdown on the diet aspect in regards to building or keeping muscle.
Let’s move on to training.
It’s rather simple.
Resistance training will yield the best results for both muscle gains.
When resistance training is implemented, we break down the muscle tissue (catabolism) in order to signal our bodies that we are under stress and in turn force our bodies to repair.
Bigger and stronger.
Think of it like scar tissue. When we get cut our bodies send the signal to repair the damage making it stronger and more resilient.
Muscle works the same way except that muscle tissue remains active and functional. Stronger, more powerful, greater in size etc.
General training guidelines for muscle growth (hypertrophy) are 3-5 intense resistance workouts per week. Rep ranges that have been shown to be most effective are 8-12 reps per exercise for the goal we are discussing. Keep rest periods around 60-90 seconds then repeat or move on to the next exercise as prescribed in your training protocol.
Lastly, and most important in my opinion, is sleep and recovery.
I just mentioned that when we train we enter a muscle breakdown phase (catabolism) and now we need to get into the growth and repair phase (anabolism).
Most of this is accomplished during our sleep cycle which is when we repair from all we put our bodies through during the day and especially the training.
While we sleep our growth hormones and other anabolic hormones are being produced at their highest levels which are crucial for recovery.
These hormones send the signal to repair and grow.
This is the time that everything comes together.
The nutrients we had consumed through the day are put to use in combination with our bodies at rest and hormone production signaling growth.
Training and dietary intake reach are essentially rendered pointless if our bodies cannot rest and recover properly, thus I find that SLEEP is the MOST IMPORTANT component to the entire process!
Without it, not only can we not repair and build, but our performance suffers in and outside of the gym.
You get the idea….
So while all of these pillars to muscle building and maintaining are important..
They are not equally important.
One pillar stands taller than all the others in its ability to hold everything together.
And it must be of the highest PRIORITY when looking to build and maintain muscle as well as many other biological functions.
And Sleep Remedy helps our bodies get into and stay in that anabolic (growth) environment to maximize our recovery and growth potential!
That about wraps it up for today.
I hope this finds you healthy and has been helpful.
Maintaining and building muscle is one of the keys to longevity, health, performance, and body composition.
And I’m sure that implementing these basic strategies will make a world of difference for you!
Also, be sure to consult with your physician, fitness professional, or dietitian before beginning any fitness or diet plan for your safety.
Kirk Parsley, M.D.