How to Regain Muscle Mass

Two mid adult men exercising in a gym with weights
Men doing incline presses (Image: Stockbyte/Stockbyte/Getty Images)

A loss of muscle mass may occur due to prolonged inactivity, illness, injury, aging or chronic health conditions. Regaining muscle mass is beneficial for people of all ages. It improves appearance, increases strength and lowers blood pressure. Building muscle mass also increases bone density and helps reduce the risk of osteoporosis-related fractures, according to Harvard Medical School. You can regain muscle mass quickly by incorporating strength training into your daily routine and making a few minor dietary modifications.

Step 1

Ease back into exercising. You will likely be unable to return to the same level of activity and workout routine that you engaged in prior to losing muscle mass, and pushing your muscles too hard or too quickly can lead to injury and exhaustion. You want to work your muscles fully, but you must stop when you feel pain. Warm up thoroughly before working out to help prevent injury.

Step 2

Focus on the specific muscle or muscle groups you wish to rebuild, and then target strength-training exercises to those muscles. Lifting weights is a simple way to increase arm and chest strength, and squats are beneficial to the legs and buttocks. Speak with a personal trainer or your doctor about the safest and most effective exercises for the specific muscles you want to regain.

Step 3

Make exercise part of your daily routine. Set aside time to work out at least three days each week. Alternate high-intensity isolation exercises with more general training sessions. Harvard Medical School recommends limiting strength-training to three workouts a week.

Step 4

Get more rest. While resting might seem counterproductive to regaining muscle mass, adequate rest allows your muscles time to recover between workouts, which makes strength-training more effective. Rest also ensures you will have the energy necessary to work out, and it will improve your overall health and mood.

Step 5

Eat a balanced diet, and increase your daily caloric intake to meet the demands created by muscle growth and increased exercise. The Nemours Foundation states that a varied diet rich in whole grains, fruits, vegetables and lean meats is essential for muscle growth and health.

Step 6

Increase your protein intake by including eggs, lean meats and fish in your diet. Fortified eggs and cold-water fish, such as salmon and mackerel, are also high in omega-3 fatty acids, nutrients that may help regain muscle mass. A slight increase in protein is sufficient, as eating too much protein will not help muscle growth and may increase body fat, according to the Australian Institute of Sport (AIS). The addition of a protein-rich snack to your daily diet is an easy way to increase your intake.

Step 7

Drink at least 64 oz. water each day to keep your body hydrated, to help flush toxins from your system and to support muscle growth.

Tip

For overall health and fitness, combine targeted strength-training with aerobic exercise, walking or jogging.

Warning

Avoid using supplements that claim to build muscle or dramatically improve strength. The AIS warns that most of these products do not help increase muscle mass or strength, and many of them are nutritionally poor and may increase body fat content.

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