While it is normal to want immediate results, more emphasis is placed on having unrealistic expectations regarding increasing muscle mass. Some men may feel discouraged if they don’t see visible results right away. Worse, they may even abandon their strength training sessions and give up on working out.
We all know how the cliché goes: Rome wasn’t built in a day.
Religiously following a fitness regimen and upping the protein and calorie intake are crucial steps before there are any noticeable changes in one’s physique. It is essential to stick to a workout routine and a specialized diet rich in protein and calories but low in fat. Even more important is keeping expectations in check and making sure those are reasonable.
Before one can start reaping the benefits of having bigger muscles, noticeable increments in one’s strength are often the first benefit a beginner will experience. One should not mistake the gradual strength gains at the start of a weightlifting program with increased muscle mass.
Rather, it results from the improvement in neuromuscular processes—the brain sends signals to muscle fibers and slowly adapts to lifting heavyweights. Consequently, more muscle fibers are involved in the lifting that allows a person to apply more force. The good news is that the effects of strength improvement already happens, even with just the first strength workout. One study from Japan stated that the peak of gaining strength happens in just two months if this becomes consistent.
Elevating muscular strength is just the first step to achieving muscle mass increase. Patience, time, and regular workouts are essential elements. Noticeable differences in a person’s physique will take time since this involves creating new muscle fibers.
Gaining Muscle Mass Takes Patience
Any person should be aware that it is impossible to immediately have bigger muscles after the first weightlifting session. Some beginners may think their muscles have already gotten more prominent. Muscles only appear to be more significant because the blood vessels are dilated due to increased blood flow. This appearance of bigger muscles is only temporary, hence explains why some men exercise before going on a date.
Some may even wonder that their muscles still look huge even the next day after the first weightlifting session. It is no longer caused by the increase in blood flow since the blood vessel dilation has already subsided. This appearance of having larger muscles is due to swelling, and it directly occurs after the first workout session. Swelling due to inflammation is the natural response of the body when unfamiliar stress is placed on the muscles. By triggering an inflammatory response, it enables the muscles to retain more water. This explains the temporary painful sensation and the more prominent appearance of the muscles. The swollen feeling of the muscles goes away on its own after the inflammation subsides.
Regular muscular workouts will gradually help the muscles in adapting to constantly lifting weights which typically happens after a few months. In addition, the post-workout inflammatory swelling of the muscles gradually occurs less often as the muscles are constantly adapting to the stress.
One study from Texas Tech stated that noticeable muscle gains do not happen until the fourth week of regular workout sessions. The researchers used ultrasound to observe and measure the increase in muscle mass. In another study from Japan, muscle growth is noticeable only after three months of consistent muscular training. There are two takeaways from these studies:
- Although not visible to the next eye, muscle growth happens even in the early stages of training sessions. It is essential to be consistent in performing training sessions and keeping those expectations in check.
- Seeing noticeable differences in one’s physique only takes place after three months of regular strength workouts. Putting in the effort will, later on, pay off.
How to Build Muscle Mass the Right Way
When a person just started any type of fitness routine, they will feel sore the day after. This is because the stress being placed upon the muscles is unfamiliar to them. Being consistent in strength training programs continues to positively challenge the muscles and adapt to higher levels of weight. This allows the muscles to grow via muscle hypertrophy. Muscle hypertrophy is a physiological response triggered when the muscle fibers continuously sustain damage by lifting heavyweights. Over time, muscular mass steadily increases due to the fusion of damaged muscle fibers together, which is the body’s way of recovering and repairing itself.
Tips in increasing muscle mass can be summarized in four main points.
- Heavy emphasis is placed on being consistent with workouts. If possible, incorporate compound movements that require the most muscle mass, which include thinking squats, deadlifts, bench press, shoulder press, and Olympic lifts. In addition, activities that focus on increasing the strength threshold of a person are lifting free weights, using stationary machines, resistance band workouts, and pushups, or any other bodyweight exercises.
- Switching up to a diet rich in protein assists in the creation of muscle fibers. Eating more protein alongside a regular workout helps in building muscle mass. It is recommended to consume as little as 1 gram of protein for every pound of body weight. For instance, a man weighing 200 pounds needs a daily intake of 200 grams of protein.
- Aside from protein, it is also vital to consume a calorie-rich diet. Lifting weights and working out already takes a lot of calories to burn. Having excess calories is necessary for increasing muscle mass. Suggestions on calorie intake and measurement are widely available online, although it could depend according to age and sex.
- Getting ample rest after a day of working out assists in the recovery time of the muscles. It is important to remember that much of the muscular growth process occurs during rest and sleep, not during lifting.