You're back in the gym, so how do you build muscle?

How to Build Muscle Without Weights

Building muscle without weight training is difficult, but it can be done. Many of you would of found this a struggle throughout the COVID-19 lockdown, but with the right guidance, nutrition and exercise you can build muscle! First of all, you must be eating enough dietary protein, particularly from nutrient dense sources that contain all nine essential amino acids in abundance as well as vitamins and minerals. Much of the recent evidence suggests that all amino acids are required to have an optimal response in muscle, as well as micronutrients, although the reasons for the latter are still not known. To gain muscle without weights, you must increase eccentric load and time under tension. Essentially, slow your body weight work down and make it a challenge. Finally, whilst building muscle is generally measured by mass and strength, building muscle is also non-hypertrophic which means whilst it may not increase in size and strength, it will increase metabolic capacity, such as anabolic and insulin sensitivity. Essentially, how fast our metabolism is firing; want to find out more about this, see our founder’s recent scientific paper on this topic:

How to Build Muscle Through Food

It’s a challenge building muscle solely through food and in our opinion based off the scientific literature, you should aim to incorporate some resistance weight training to build muscle. However, it is possible to maximise muscle retention through food, in particular protein. How much do you need? See the next section to find out!

How Much Protein Do I need to build muscle?

This is one of those questions that is almost like, how long is a piece of string? It depends on your activity type, level, age and goals. However, if you’re young you won’t need quite so much as if you were over the age of 40, this is due to the resistance of the muscle to use the dietary protein seen in middle aged to older adults. Young adults who are active require 1.2-1.6g/kg body weight, and older adults require 1.6g/kg +. Many health professionals, personal trainers and others recommend all sorts of quantities, many of which are far too high and only burn a hole in your wallet. Protein does not need to be over consumed, spread it out between 3-4 servings in the day and ensure you have some before and after your weight’s sessions.

What supplements help build muscle?

In terms of ergogenic aids, the only proven supplement to help build muscle mass is creatine. There are several forms, but still to the basics, creatine monohydrate at 5g per day. Recent evidence suggests having it throughout your workout can be beneficial for maximising strength and muscle gain. Caffeine can help with energy levels and having some high-quality protein within 2hrs post exercise is a good idea. Don’t get caught up in rushing for your protein shake though, it doesn’t matter that much! Finally, whole foods should be chosen over supplements – you’ll see a difference long term.

Which Vitamins are Important for Building Muscle?

The most important micronutrients for building muscle are omega 3 fats which are vital for recovery and cell signalling, and secondly vitamin D. Though, deficiency of any vitamin or mineral could have a negative effect, thus, it is a good idea to get your levels checked out with us here at Focus Food. Make sure you eat a varied diet, rich in vegetables, oily fish and avoid processed foods.

Will Building Muscle Burn Fat?

Technically speaking no but increasing our muscle mass increases your metabolic rate and therefore capacity to burn fat at the same energy intake compared to having less muscle mass. Over time as your muscle increases, your energy demands increase linearly, you’ll need to match these or risk fatigue.

If you have a question on building muscle mass, let us know and we’ll help!