Getting buff is building lean muscle tissue and maintaining lower levels of body fat. It can take as little as a few weeks to notice a change or several years depending on your current fitness level, body composition and dedication to reaching your goals. However, you can get buff with consistency following a clean diet, regular strength training and aerobic exercise.
Becoming buff starts from within. Eating too much or the wrong types of foods can slow your progress in reaching your muscle goals. Nourish your body with fresh, unprocessed foods consumed in small-portioned meals five to seven times daily, spaced two to three hours apart. Consuming frequent smaller meals constantly stimulates your metabolism, which increases fat loss and prevents over-consumption and cravings, says Tosca Reno, author of "The Eat-Clean Diet Stripped." Meals should consist of lean protein, vegetables, fruits, whole-grains and unsaturated fats. Protein sources might include lean poultry or beef, fish, eggs or low-fat dairy. Whole-grains include oatmeal, brown rice, quinoa or whole-grain breads or pasta. Healthy fat sources include olive or canola oil, nuts, natural nut butters or seeds.
Strength training is essential for building lean muscle tissue. Beginners should start with at least two sessions a week targeting all the major muscle groups. Compound exercises require more than one joint movement and multiple muscle groups to execute the movement such as squats, deadlifts, bench press, clean and press, pullups and pushups. Including compound exercises in your routine generates a greater hormonal response, which stimulates muscle growth, notes Dave DiFabio, CSCS. Perform two to three sets of eight to 12 repetitions of each exercise once or twice a week on non-consecutive days. Take at least one day off from exercise each week to allow for muscle growth and recovery.
Perform at least 30 minutes of moderate-intensity aerobic exercise such as brisk walking five days a week. Aerobic exercise is necessary for burning excess body fat and strengthening the heart and lungs. Increasing the duration or intensity of the aerobic exercise may be necessary if you have a significant amount of body fat to lose. Durations may need to be increased up to 90 minutes daily of moderate-intensity exercise. Another option is increasing the intensity to vigorous such as running or performing sprint intervals. One minute of vigorous-intensity exercise is equivalent to about two minutes of moderate-intensity exercise.
Your body will begin to adapt to your new diet and exercise program. When this occurs, make changes to either your diet or exercise program depending on your goals and where the plateau occurred. If the plateau occurred in fat loss, revisit your diet plan and make necessary changes to it before increasing the amount or intensity of your exercise program. If the plateau occurred in muscle building, change your strength training routine. Make changes in any of the following areas to help with plateaus: changes in the exercises or exercise order, number of weekly training sessions, number of sets or repetitions or changing the rest periods between sets. Switching up your exercise routine every four to eight weeks will allow you to continue achieving results in your strength and conditioning, recommends ExRx.
The Time it Takes to Get Buff
After 12 to 16 weeks of following a solid diet and exercise program you should notice significant changes in your physique. Plan to lose 1 to 2 lb. of body fat each week, which could result in up to a 32 lb. fat loss at the end of 16 weeks. Furthermore, after 16 weeks of regular strength training your body will have added additional muscle tissue giving you a more shapely, buff appearance.