How to Put on Muscle Mass


When trying to lose weight and get healthier, we usually think of cutting calories and doing cardio exercise. While these things are certainly great choices for getting fit, the American College of Sports Medicine as well as the American Heart Association also recommend strength training at least twice weekly. Strength training is an effective way to put on muscle mass and burn calories. The more muscle mass you have, the more energy you will burn--not only during a workout, but also when your muscles are at rest.

  • Implement a regular strength training routine, ideally two to three times per week, using weight-lifting machines, free weights or other weight-bearing exercises. It’s best to skip a day between weight training workouts because muscle mass increases during periods when the muscles are at rest and not during the actual workout. Overworking the muscles can lead to stress and strain or even injury.

  • Work out your entire body: include repetitions for all of the large muscle groups--the back, shoulders and chest, abdomen, arms and legs. This will allow you to put on muscle mass equally throughout your body.

  • Change up your strength training routine every 4 to 6 weeks or so. You can put on more muscle mass by increasing your reps, increasing the weight or doing the same number of reps in less time, and by rotating your emphasis on the different muscle groups.

  • Maximize your pounds lifted per minute rather than just the amount of weight lifted at one time. For example, by lifting 50 lbs. 25 times in three sets spread out over 5 minutes, you will be lifting more weight per minute than if you lift 100 lbs. 10 times each, in an equal number of sets in the same 5 minutes: 100 lbs. times 10 = 1,000 lbs. times 3 sets = 3,000 lbs. divided by 5 minutes = 600 lbs. per minute50 lbs. times 25 = 1,250 lbs. times 3 sets = 3,750 lbs. divided by 5 minutes = 750 lbs. per minute

  • Increase your body’s ability to put on muscle mass by consuming foods that bring oxygen to muscles and make you healthier overall. Such foods include fortified eggs, clams, oysters and mussels, which are rich in iron and vitamin B12; legumes and nuts, which are great sources of essential fatty acids, protein and fiber as well as many other vital minerals and nutrients; whole grains, which are complex carbohydrates that keep energy up for a sustained period of time, and vegetables such as broccoli and tomatoes.

Tips & Warnings

  • Adults 65 and older should strength-train two to three times a week, doing more reps with lighter weights, taking into account their fitness levels beforehand.
  • Join a gym with your spouse or a friend and create a workout schedule to increase your motivation.
  • There’s no need to invest in expensive workout machines when you’re starting out. Purchase some hand weights from a department store.
  • Always consult your health care provider before beginning any fitness program.

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