The Struggle to Build Muscle
Contrary to popular belief, you actually don’t build muscle during a workout. It’s only after you leave the gym that change can occur. You’ll pack on the mass long after the workout is over…..assuming you’re eating and doing other things right.
What exactly does it mean to “do things right?” Well, muscle building is divided into two parts (this is an oversimplification but hear me out):
1. Give the body a reason to build new muscle (lift heavy things)
2. Have enough raw materials lying around to create that new muscle
In order for your muscle fibers to grow, they need a stress applied to them. Standing in front of the mirror at the gym and cranking out dumbbell curls isn’t enough – there has to be significant fatigue to your muscles. This will vary from person to person but multiple sets of 6 or more reps or needed to create damage. You need just enough stress to where the muscle is willing to grab the food you eat and make new proteins.
Most people who want more mass at least get to the gym….so point #1 is getting done (to an extent).
The whole point of that marathon curl session was to stimulate a thing called protein synthesis. Breaking down muscle is step one. Step two is elevating protein synthesis through proper nutrition. This is where most people screw up.
I don’t care how hard you work in the gym, if you don’t provide the body the materials needed to build new muscle, nothing is going to happen. It’s like you didn’t even go the gym and you could have spent that monthly membership on some new CDs’s….if buying CD’s was still a thing. Let’s make this more relevant: you could have scooped up a new streaming service with those gym dues.
But protein synthesis is the key. Elevate it, and the body will grow. A surefire way to do this is to consume Branch Chained Amino Acids, or BCAA’s.
Amino acids are building blocks of protein. Compare it to a construction project: if a protein is the building then the bricks are the amino acids.
The BCAA’s are special in that they don’t go directly to your liver. Instead, they float around in your bloodstream and contribute to things like producing energy while you exercise. In fact, they may contribute to 40% of energy production while you’re rocking that bench press. While most know that protein is important to muscle, BCAA’s are like that awesome band you loved in high school that never got enough credit.
There are three branch chained amino acids: isoleucine, valine, and leucine. While they’re all important, leucine is the money maker. Research has shown that protein synthesis isn’t elevated until you consume that magic amino acid. You’ll need about 5 grams of leucine to force that body to put on some muscle. You may need even a few grams more but this is where “eating healthy” doesn’t cut it. No leucine, no muscle. You need to be very direct with your approach.
Yes, there is leucine in food. And you’re probably thinking that since you drink whey protein you’re bases are covered. Not really. If your protein is up to snuff then it will list the amount of each amino acid in a scoop….and if you read said label, you’d realize that you would need A LOT of scoops to get those 5 grams. That’s where supplementing with quality BCAA’s helps.
-We need to tear down muscle to build new tissue
-You need to elevate protein synthesis
-A quick way to do this is to consume BCAA’s
-You’ll need a minimum of 5 grams of leucine after you workout
BCAA’s are a tad pricey but definitely worth it. If you’re serious about adding muscle to your frame, 1 scoop while you workout and 1 scoop after will do wonders. Just mix it in your shake and assuming you work hard, muscles will grow.