How to Build Muscle After Weight Loss

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Muscles offer the strength we need to perform many activities of daily life. In addition to their functional capacity, muscles can provide the body with a toned and fit appearance. While building -- and maintaining -- muscle mass is important for all individuals, it can be especially advantageous for those who recently lost weight, says the American College of Sports Medicine. Be sure to include resistance training exercises that target large muscle groups for optimal results when it comes to building muscle mass after weight loss.

Things You'll Need

  • Dumbbells
  • Resistance training machines
  • Protein powder
  • Incorporate resistance training into your exercise routine. Resistance training can be effective for increasing muscle mass, notes the American Council on Exercise. For best results, include exercises that target large muscle groups. Try body-weight exercises such as pushups, pullups, squats and lunges. Exercisers who have access to dumbbells or barbells can focus on large muscle groups by including such exercises as chest presses, upright rows and dumbbell squats. Similarly, resistance-training machines, such as those for leg presses, leg curls and chest flyes, are also appropriate when targeting large muscle groups. A workout composed of eight to 10 large-muscle resistance-training exercises will provide a good starting point for those who want to increase muscle size.

  • Plan sets and repetitions. The American College of Sports Medicine reports that those who want to build mass after weight loss should perform two to three sets of 12 to 15 repetitions of resistance-training exercises for optimal muscle growth. Limit recovery periods between exercise sets to 60 seconds or less for optimal results. While individuals who include longer rest periods between exercise sets will notice increases in muscle strength, muscle mass growth may not be as significant, notes ACSM.

  • Schedule rest days. The American Council on Exercise reports that allowing your muscles to recover from a strenuous resistance-training workout is crucial when working toward muscle hypertrophy. Aim for two to three days of resistance training per week to promote maximal muscle growth. To ensure a proper physiological response, allow at least one day of rest between each session of resistance training. An exercise routine that features resistance training on Monday, Wednesday and Friday is a great option for those who want to properly incorporate strengthening exercises.

  • Incorporate supplemental protein in your diet. Protein is composed of a variety of different types of amino acids which combine to promote muscle growth. The American Council on Exercise states that individuals who want to gain muscle mass should consume between 1 and 1.2 grams of protein per kilogram of body weight. While most exercisers should be able to do this by following a balanced, healthy diet, some may require assistance from supplemental protein powders.

Tips & Warnings

  • Alternate resistance training with moderate-intensity cardiovascular exercise to maintain weight loss and promote increased blood flow, which can aid in muscle growth.
  • Include a five- to 10-minute aerobic warm-up before each exercise session to prepare the body for exercise.
  • Consider working with a certified personal trainer to ensure proper form during resistance training.
  • Consult with a physician before starting a new diet or exercise program.

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References

  • American Council on Exercise: ACE's Personal Trainer Manual
  • American College of Sports Medicine: ACSM's Resource Manual for Guidelines for Exercise Testing and Prescription
  • Photo Credit Photodisc/Photodisc/Getty Images
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