Your protein intake
We all know that protein is important, but how much protein is optimal for building muscle mass and how should you distribute the intake during the day? According to WHO (World Health Organization) we need approximately 0,8 g of protein per kilo body weight and day just to survive. This means that a person that weighs 60 kg should need about 48g of protein per day (which corresponds to approximately 200 g chicken breast or 400 g soybeans) if you only look into the survival aspect. However, if you add strength training the protein needed seems to increase up to 2 g per kilo body weight and day, which for a person who weighs 60 kg means approximately 120g of protein. Are you doing strength training? Then you may need to adjust your protein intake.
Regarding the distribution there has been at least one study that has shown that 20 g of protein every other hour stimulates the protein synthesis more than 10 g every hour or 40g every fourth hour. It seems that the best method for increasing the protein synthesis is to eat quite a large amount of protein distributed over the day. It's also known that 20g of whey protein or 10g chained amino acids (EAA/BCAA) directly after a strenght training session is a good idea for getting a positive protein balance and thereby optimizing the muscle building process (hypertrophy). An easy and delicious way of eating protein after your strength training session is by drinking a Fitnessguru One Whey shake, which gives you an optimal amount of whey protein in just one scoop. It's important that the protein you take after training is a fast digesting protein, which means that casein protein isn't a good choice at that time.. However, casein protein is a healthy, easy and satisfying snack. You can find plenty of protein packed snack recipes here. : https://www.fitnessguru.com/recipes
Talking about your actual workouts there are some principles that you should be aware of; the principle of specificity, overload, progression and reversibility.
These principles means that;
- To become good at a particular exercise you must perform that exercise. For example, if you want to build bigger glutes then it's better to perform exercises that activates your glutes (hip thrusters) rather than exercises that activates your quadriceps (squats) more than your glutes.
- To get the best possible effect from your training your body must be exposed to a great level of stress. It's only when your body is reaching this stress level that it's starting to adapt to the stimulus. It's well known that a load of at least 60 % of your body's capacity gives the most results regarding the muscle hypertrophy, therefore working with 8-12 repetitions seems to be a good idea if you want to build muscle mass
- To avoid hitting a plateau, you need to gradually increase your workload as you get stronger. The increase can be either more repetitions or a heavier load (the weight you put on the barbell for example).
- To maintain the muscle adaption you must continue exercising these muscles. This means that if you’re resting too long between your sessions, your newfound capacity will be lost. Exactly how much exercise you need every week is individual and depends on how trained you are. The general advice is to activate every muscle group at least two times a week. But be aware that there is an upper limit where the risk of getting injured is increased.
In conclusion you need to adjust your training sessions according to your goals. Put on an adequate load and increase the load as you get stronger. You should also try to exercise the muscles you prioritize the most at least two times a week. If these tips along with an adequate nutritional intake isn't helping you, you may consider looking over your recovery.
We can all agree that training and good food is important, but to rest and recover is just as important. If your body don’t have time to recover properly you don't only risk a lack of exercise effect but the risk of getting injured is also increasing. Besides that proper recovery is also very important to keep your motivation up. Therefore, getting enough sleep and giving yourself rest days is more important than you might think.
Emma Fredriksson, Bachelor in Sport Sciences, Physiotherapist Student, and Bikini Fitness Athlete
Kenney, W.L., Wilmore, J. & Costill, D. (2015). Physiology of Sport and Exercise. 6. uppl. Human Kinetics.
Phillips, S. M. & Van Loon, L.J. (2011). Dietary protein for athletes: from requirements to optimum adaptation. Journal of sports sciences, vol. 29, ss. 29-38.
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