Karl from Vitruvian Health shares some tips on what you can do to tone up (aka build muscle).
Tip 1 – Exercise selection
You can have the best program in the world but if you don’t have the right exercises for your body, it won’t work. The reason for this is because you won’t be able to achieve the vectors for muscle hypertrophy.
Poor exercise selection only leads to injury. Your exercise choices need to be based on your structural balance (how your body moves and where the strengths and weaknesses lie), not just what you saw someone in the gym doing or learned in a group class.
Before you ask: group classes do not provide this – rather they provide a set of generic exercises that worked for someone, somewhere. But they might not work for you here and now, especially if you want to build muscle.
Tip 2 – Structured training program
A structured training program is essential if you want to build muscle. A structured training program is one that sets out what exercises you do, and on which days of the week you will do it. Typically the exercise selection for each day has a particular focus ie upper body, lower body, posterior etc.
For us, every person’s training program will be different because:
- every person has a different goal;
- everyone moves differently;
- no two people live the same life;
- everyone’s lifestyle and habits are different;
- each person’s structural balance will produce a different set of results which then dictates how the training program is prepared.
Importantly, you don’t need to be a serious bodybuilder to build muscle training 6 times a week. You can do it with just training 3 times a week, with a program based on your goal, body’s strength and weaknesses and lifestyle.
Tip 3 – Consistently follow the vectors for muscle hypertrophy (building muscle)
The vectors are:
- Progressive overload
- Time under tension
- Full range of movement
- No pain
If you are interested in learning more about progressive overload, see this video with Karl
With muscle growth, people generally expect to see results within the first week of training, usually just because a new routine has been implemented and people want immediate gratification for their hard work. However in reality, you can feel a difference in the first week, but you’ll see a difference in 4 – 6 weeks.
The issue with the vectors and why people might not see muscle hypertrophy is quite simply, because people have feelings, and they think their muscles do, which leads to them holding back and not achieving each of the above.
When you are doing resistance training (whether at the gym or at home) as long as you focus on full range of movement and time under tension, with progression and load over time, you should see an increase in muscle hypertrophy. If not, then tip 4 and 5 are for you.
Tip 4 – Sufficient protein intake
Protein is the building blocks for muscle and recovery. Eating insufficient protein limits your chances of building muscle.
When protein is consumed, it will break down into amino acids which will help with an overwhelming number of bodily processes, such as immunity, stress response, cell signaling, metabolic regulation, the endocrine system, ammonia removal, reproduction… the list goes on!
It is only when the body is in homeostasis (balance) that it will prioritise building muscle. So if you’re building muscle, you know your body is in a good space because you are eating sufficient protein to perform the above process, and to build muscle.
Tip 5 – Consistency in meal plan
Reread tip 4! Consistency in your meal planning helps to optimise the digestion and nutrient uptake. Your body is smart, it knows what to do, such as stimulating enzymes known as saliva to help break down food when we chew it and swallow. The release of these enzymes will decrease bloating and discomfort due to inconsistencies and outside stressors makes this harder for the body to do.
Example – how do you feel when you are out in the sun, not worrying about work, finances, and things to do? Feel pretty good right? Well that’s what the body is like when you’re consistent with your meal times.
Bonus tip – sleep 7 – 9 hours (non negotiable)
If you need more on sleep, check out our other article!