While nothing's wrong with a slim, lean physique, feeling skinny and underweight might affect your self-image. If you want to fill out your frame with a little muscle, a sensible exercise routine and a diet that includes enough protein to support your muscle building, can help you accomplish your goal and improve your overall health. An effective workout schedule doesn't require hours in the gym, either. If you're not used to working out, start slowly to avoid injury.
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To increase your muscle size using free weights or weight machines, choose weights between 80 and 85 percent of the amount you can lift just once. With these weights, perform three to six sets, with eight to 12 repetitions per set, of each exercise in your routine. You'll also need 30 to 60 seconds of rest between each set. After your workout, allow 48 to 72 hours before your next workout to give each muscle group a chance to recover.
Performing each exercise set to the point of muscle failure can also help you build muscle mass quickly. This means you finish the set only when you're physically unable to perform another repetition. Six sets per muscle group is the ideal to work toward. For this method, compound exercises, which work multiple muscles, are more effective than isolation exercises. Options include barbell squats, bench presses, pushups and lunges. For adequate rest, perform a total body workout no more than four days a week.
Consider Your Options
Choosing exercises for every major muscle group helps you develop a balanced physique. Varying the exercises in your routine also reduces injury risk. Base each total body workout on eight to 12 exercises, including those for your arms, shoulders, chest, back, abdomen and upper and lower legs. For variety, try body-weight exercises like pushups, planks and supermans, as well as exercises with equipment like free weights, weight machines and resistance bands.
Cardiovascular exercise is essential for keeping your heart and lungs in shape, but too much may impair your muscle gains. Three 30-minute cardio workouts weekly are all you need. You might save your cardio for the days you rest from strength training or start your strength-training workout with a five- to 10-minute cardio warm-up, then perform the rest of your cardio after strength training. Cardiovascular exercises that require bursts of strength, such as sprinting, rowing or hopping up stairs, help you build muscle while working your heart. Using kettlebells -- blending strength and cardio -- will achieve muscle gains without compromise