We all know that getting fit has different definitions for different people. I, myself, wanted to slim down the fat surrounding my midsection while also bulking up muscle, and defining that muscle, in my upper body, because frankly, I wanted to look better with my shirt off. In this post, I will tell you some steps to take to get some mass in your arms, shoulders, chest and back.
There are two essential things that have to get done in order to build muscle mass. One is working the muscle groups that you desire to improve hard enough that they have to change the way they work in order for you to move the resistance (i.e. weights, bands). Now, they will function the same way, but the muscles themselves will have to make more cells (hyperplasia), or change their size (hypertrophy) to accommodate the demands being put on them. Hyperplasia is not a common way to gain strength, but in ill-used muscles, it has happened. The most common strength gains and mass building is through hypertrophy. So, what you must do is work your groups with weights that are hard enough that you can repeat the motion, but you can only do it 6,8,10 times, so your muscles will increase in size. If you are able to do more than 10, then you are working more of an endurance angle with your muscles vs size, and you will become lean and defined.
How to work them? I find it best to work your upper body 2 different days concentrating on 2 different motions. You always want to work the groups that compliment each other on the same day vs groups that work against each other. With that in mind, one day working out your chest, triceps and shoulders, and the other biceps and back. One day is pushing the resistance away from you, while the other pulls it towards you. There are many exercises out there that work each muscle group, and many that work multiple groups. Just remember to combine the exercises that work those groupings above on the right days. For example, I would do a routine that would first isolate the triceps, then the shoulder, then the chest. The reason is the triceps is isolated more freely than the shoulder and chest, which will inadvertently work other muscles by the nature of the exercise. I would even go in that order. Start with a triceps exercise, then shoulder, then chest, back to triceps, then shoulder, etc. Same goes with the biceps and back day. Work the biceps and then the back. There are so many exercises that isolate elbow flexion, but it is very hard to isolate a back exercise to just work one of your back muscles. So you are getting a lot of work on your Bis and Tris, but don’t leave out the variations like hammer curls, reverse curls, or different angles like front and lateral raises, upright rows and bent rows, and regular bench, incline and decline bench.
Now part two, which is probably the most important, of the essential things that must be done for muscle growth is, NUTRITION! If you do not eat properly, you are just moving around and not gaining anything from it. First thing you must do if figure out how many calories per day are necessary for your goals. I made the mistake of just thinking a 2000-2200 cal/day diet would get me there, even if I ate the right things. WRONG! I had to increase to almost 3000-3500 cal/day. With the increase in activity, your body will burn more calories, LONGER, and use up body stores more and they will need to be replenished. Once you have that figured out, then you’ll need to know…
WHAT TO EAT! If you are looking to gain mass, you are going to need lots and lots and lots of PROTEIN. There are various ways of obtaining it, but the best is through LEAN cuts of fish, skinless chicken, beans, and to some extent red meat. The fish has omega-3 and omega-6 fatty acids which will in turn burn the fat off, but there is hardly any fat in fish. Most fat in chicken is in the skin, and beans are naturally high in protein. The red meat gets tricky, because you have to know what part it is coming from, and most red meat purchased in the US is coming from animals raised specifically to be eaten, and they aren’t always the healthiest or leanest cuts of meat. Be more speculative of red meat in your diet. Eating these, along with decreasing your dairy and carbohydrate intake, and increasing your veggies daily, will help with the protein synthesis that is necessary to build muscle.
You will also want to use some protein supplements with your workouts. Whey protein has been found to be more easily absorbed than any other type of protein out there, which is why it is advertised so much as a workout drink. I have always used EAS Myoplex powder that I mix with water right after my workouts are done, but there are many many others out there. You have a 30-60 minute window for this whey protein to get into your system and help with the muscle rebuilding process. That will also decrease any soreness that comes with the workout.
Good luck to you and I hope this helps you achieve your goals.