Muscles not only add a toned and fit appearance to the body, but also aid in the performance of a number of important everyday tasks. It should come as no surprise, then, that many individuals are interested in gaining lean muscle mass -- especially as they age. According to the American College of Sports Medicine, participating in a strength-training routine is crucial for those who want to build muscle mass. Following a healthy diet, avoiding weight loss, and getting adequate amounts of rest are also important steps for those who want to gain lean muscle.
Hit the Weights
Lifting weights on a regular basis is the most effective way to gain lean muscle mass. NBC News reports that those who want to gain muscle should strength train at least twice per week, and include all major muscle groups. Aim for two to three sets of eight to 12 repetitions for optimal results with resistance training. Those who are over the age of 65 should perform more repetitions with lighter weights, keeping in mind current fitness levels.
Include Aerobic Exercise
Though lifting weights is important when it comes to building muscle mass, high body fat percentages can make the definition of these muscles difficult. It should come as no surprise, then, that individuals who hope to emphasize increases in muscle mass may also want to cut down on body fat. According to Duke Health, including aerobic exercise -- like walking, biking, or swimming -- is effective when it comes to losing body fat. The American Council on Exercise states that exercisers should aim for 150 minutes per week of aerobic exercise for best results in fat loss.
Follow a Healthy Diet
While resistance training is important when it comes to gaining muscle mass, a healthy diet also plays a role. To gain lean muscle mass, follow a diet that features whole grains, low-fat dairy, and plenty of fruits and vegetables. Including adequate amounts of high quality protein -- such as that found in eggs or lean red meat -- will also maximize the results obtained through resistance training. The American Council on Exercise states that those who want to build muscle mass should eat 0.8 to 1.0 g of protein for every kilogram of body weight.
Avoid Weight Loss
During weight loss, the body is forced to survive on fewer calories than usual and, to function properly, must often rely on its fuel stores. While fat is commonly used as a fuel source during weight loss, muscle mass can also provide needed energy for the body. Be sure to consume an adequate number of calories each day to avoid potential muscle atrophy. ACE reports that the average moderately active man and woman between the ages of 18 and 40 needs from 2,600 to 3,200 and 2,000 to 2,400 calories per day, respectively.
Get Adequate Rest
Sleep is the time during which your body rests and recuperates from the stress of daily life. While sleep is a must for all individuals, those who are attempting to build muscle mass may be especially dependent on this activity. Healthy adults should get between six and eight hours of sleep each night for optimal gains in muscle mass. Those who experience difficulty in falling asleep or staying asleep may want to consult with an expert experienced in the field of insomnia.
Plan a Weekly Routine
For optimal results in gaining lean muscle mass, including a weekly exercise routine is a must. Plan on 45 to 60 minutes of aerobic activity on Monday, Wednesday and Friday, including such exercises as jogging, biking, swimming, or jumping rope. Tuesdays could be an upper body resistance training day, where exercisers perform a combination of different types of pushups, pull-ups, bicep curls, and triceps extensions. Finally, Thursdays could be a lower body resistance training day, with a focus on squats, leg extensions, hamstring curls, deadlifts, and lunges. Be sure to vary exercises regularly to avoid boredom and maintain muscle fiber activation.
- NBC News: Tips to Build Muscle Mass at Any Age
- 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
- Duke Health: Aerobic Exercise Trumps Resistance Training for Weight and Fat Loss