When your goal is to build muscle, it's important for your approach to include strength training and proper nutrition.
As a general rule, you should be getting about 0.4 to 0.5 grams of protein per pound of body weight every day, according to Natalie Digate Muth, MD, MPH, RD, of the American Council on Exercise; athletes should get between 0.5 and 0.8 grams.
Whey, an amino acid found in milk, is a readily available, quickly digestible form of protein that many body builders use to decrease recovery time and build muscle.
Scoop out about 10 grams of whey protein supplement and stir it into it to a glass of milk or a smoothie, about 15 minutes before you start your strength training routine. You can also use protein supplement bars, chewy snacks or any other whey protein product that has roughly 10 grams of whey protein.
Complete your strength training routine, doing one to three sets of at least three exercises that work the arms. This might include pull-ups, pushups, biceps curls, dumbbell flyes, barbell presses, overhead presses, or any other arm-focused exercise.
Remember that variation should be another big component of your routine, so if you've done the same arms routine for a few weeks, switch it up and incorporate some new exercises. If you're using weights, choose a weight that forces your muscles to feel fatigued toward the end of the set.
Consume another 20 grams of whey protein within 30 minutes of your workout, in any form you like. This can be from a shake, smoothie or a protein bar.
This is the most important time to be consuming whey, since your muscles will be rebuilding the tissue that you've broken down during your workout. Since whey is so rapidly digested, it will be immediately available for those needy muscles.
Do your arms workout about three days a week, giving your muscles at least 24 hours of rest between sessions. Your muscles need time to rest and recover, then regenerate new tissue before you put them through another round of strength training.
On your "off" days, it's OK to do cardio or other forms of exercise — just not strength training. On those days, be sure to stay within the recommended guidelines and get adequate protein through healthy foods such as lean meats, fish, nut butters, or beans and rice.
Not all forms of whey are made equal. Look for the purest form, whey protein isolate, which contains about 90 percent protein. Second-best is whey protein concentrate, a lesser-processed form with between 29 and 89 percent protein. (see reference 3)
Consuming whey protein does have the potential for side effects, and as such, you shouldn't consume too much. Whey has been known to cause cramps, bloating, gas, tiredness, headaches and irritability, says Dr. Josh Axe, a nutrition specialist and chiropractor.
If you're experiencing any of these symptoms, cut back on the whey and try other forms of protein, such as soy or rice, to see if the symptoms go away.