The Prime Time to Build Muscle | STACK

Become a Better Athlete. Sign Up for our FREE Newsletter.

The Prime Time to Build Muscle

November 13, 2012 | Jim Carpentier

Must See Nutrition Videos

Although it may feel like you're building muscle during your workout, those Squats you're doing aren't adding an ounce of muscle mass. Size gains only happen following workouts under ideal circumstances. You may not be able to control the outcome of a game, but you can control your muscle growth by following these important post-workout guidelines:

Consume a high-carbohydrate/moderate protein meal or beverage within 15 to 30 minutes after your final rep

After a tough workout, your muscles are like sponges ready to soak up whatever you feed them. Your workout has depleted them of needed nutrients, and they need to be replenished. (Design the Perfect Muscle-Building Post-Workout Meal.) Some sample post-workout meals are:

  • Chocolate milk and banana
  • Peanut butter and jelly sandwich with water

Reward your muscles with rest

During heavy-duty lifting, your muscle fibers are broken down, so they need 24 to 48 hours of recovery to rebuild and grow. A good night's sleep is strongly advised to release the natural anabolic (muscle-building) hormone HGH from the pituitary gland. (See Secrets for Better, Muscle-Building Sleep.)

Designate training days for low-intensity active recovery

Avoid consecutive high-intensity weight room sessions and high-intensity aerobic activity. They interfere with muscle-building recovery and prevent size gains. Instead, on days following lifting, take a brisk walk or light jog. (Read Value of Rest and Recovery to Sports Injury Prevention and Treatment.) This kind of "active recovery" helps you conserve your energy for the next intense session. "Passive recovery" is when you lounge around between workout sessions and do nothing.

Beware of overtraining

Chronic joint and muscle soreness and low energy are signs of overtraining, which reduces your chance to increase strength and size. If your muscles are still sore after a workout you performed two days ago, take another day off to fully recover so you'll progress and not regress.

Continually feed muscles

Lifting weights is only one factor in the muscle-building equation. Quality (i.e., nutrient-dense) extra calories are also required. That means consuming five or six small muscle-building meals daily. (See Fuel Up Post-Training to Improve Muscle Recovery.) And don't forget to drink plenty of water to direct those proteins and carbs to your muscles to promote growth!

Jim Carpentier
- Jim Carpentier is a certified strength and conditioning specialist, New Jersey-licensed massage therapist and a health/fitness writer. He currently serves as associate health and wellness...
Jim Carpentier
- Jim Carpentier is a certified strength and conditioning specialist, New Jersey-licensed massage therapist and a health/fitness writer. He currently serves as associate health and wellness...
Must See
Antonio Brown Juggles 3 Footballs
Views: 1,169,882
Skylar Diggins Attacks the Off-Season On and Off the Court
Views: 3,923,863
Dashon Goldson: "You Just Gotta Have Heart"
Views: 3,056,420

Featured Videos

Olympic Marathoner Ryan Hall: A Day in the Life Views: 327,109
Path to the Pros 2015: Danny Shelton Views: 161,266
Learn to Hit Open Three-Pointers With Damian Lillard's Baseline Drift Drill Views: 228,843
Load More


STACK Fitness

Everything you need to be fitter than ever

STACK Conditioning

Sport-specific conditioning programs

Coaches and Trainers

Tips and advice for coaches and trainers


Latest issues of STACK Magazine


Women's sports workout, nutrition and lifestyle advice


Gaming, entertainment and tech news

Basic Training

Military-style training for athletes


Find the latest news relevant to athletes

Most Popular Videos

How Greg Nixon Converts Strength to Speed
Views: 959,609
Corey White's Off-Season Guide to Making Plays
Views: 1,396,869
Abby Wambach Will Do Whatever It Takes
Views: 2,814,024
Dwight Howard Stays in the Gym All Night
Views: 3,917,254
Two-Ball Dribbling Drill With John Wall
Views: 3,359,926

Load More
More Cool Stuff You'll Like

Fuel Up Fast With 4 Smoothies From the New York Giants

Healthy Eating at Restaurants: Decoding a Diner Menu

Are You Eating Too Much Protein?

5 Protein-Packed Recovery Shakes

5 Delicious Ways to Make Junk Food Less Junky

10 Easy Ways to Eat Real Food

Brown Rice vs. White Rice: Does It Really Matter?

The Case for Red Meat

7 Foods That Are Ruining Your Workouts

The Cheat Meal Day: Why It's Not So Smart

How Undereating Can Make You Gain Weight

9 Athlete-Approved Peanut Butter Sandwiches

6 Healthy Foods You're Overeating

5 Foods That Are Stunningly High in Sodium

The 6 Worst Foods for Athletes

5 Ways Junk Food Can Mess With Your Head

How to Eat Organic Without Breaking the Bank

The Healthiest (And Unhealthiest) Ways to Eat Chicken

Why You Need Dietary Fiber

3 Fruits and 3 Vegetables Athletes Must Eat

5 Ways to Fuel Your Early Morning Workout

10 Athlete-Approved, High-Protein Healthy Cereals

11 Food Services That Deliver Ready-Made Nutritious Meals

Living Near Fast Food Could Increase Your Odds of Obesity

Small Change, Big Difference: 5 Foods You Should Buy Organic

The Boston Cannons'

You Should Eat the Peel of These 12 Fruits and Vegetables

5 'Good Foods' That Might Be Bad for You

Vegetarian Athlete Tips: Olympic Swimmer Kate Ziegler

5 Non-Boring Ways To Eat Chicken

4 'Bad Foods' That Might be Good for You

How to Deal With Your Sugar Cravings

12 Foods Every Athlete Should Eat

A Sneaky Food Additive Athletes Should Avoid

6 Eating Mistakes That Undo Your Workouts

Load Up on These Foods at Your Backyard Barbecue

5 Healthy Foods That Got a Bad Rap

Healthy (and Unhealthy) BBQ Ideas For Athletes

Salad Showdown: Which Greens Are the Healthiest?

Healthy Makeovers for 3 Classic Meals

The Best Foods for Digestive Health

Spice Up Your Healthy Cooking With These Lively Combos

5 'Healthy' Side Dishes That Are Worse Than French Fries

5 Nutritional Power Combos for Athletes

The Grain Guide: How and Why to Use 8 Healthy Whole Grains

How Friends and Family Affect Your Food Choices

Terrible Toppings: The 5 Worst Things We Put on Food

STUDY: Eat More Fruits and Veggies, Live (Almost) Forever

Where the Paleo Diet Falls Short