The Prime Time to Build Muscle | STACK

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...
More Cool Stuff You'll Like

4 Post-Workout Shakes for Recovery and Building Muscle

A Guide to Muscle-Building Supplements

Make Gains With This Post-Workout Shake Recipe

Cool Foods and Beverages for the Summer Athlete

The Perfect Post-Workout Pasta Recipe

The Truth About Post-Workout Carbs

The Power of Green Smoothies

3 Smoothie Recipes to Meet Your Nutrition Needs

The Best Post-Workout Carbs

Simple Post-Workout Shake Recipe

Benefits of Oatmeal, Pre- or Post-Workout

Chocolate Milk after Workouts

How to Plan Your Post-Workout Nutrition

The DIY Athlete: Homemade Fruit Strips

Top 3 Reasons to Take Dextrose Post-Workout

The Best Post-Workout Supplements and Nutrition

The Prime Time to Build Muscle

3 Recipes to Spice Up Chocolate Milk

What to Eat to Get Bigger, Faster and Stronger

Design the Perfect Muscle-Building Post-Workout Meal

How to Build a Performance-Fueling Smoothie

Why You Can't Ignore Pre- and Post-Workout Nutrition

KISS Your Way to a Perfect Post-Workout Meal

5 Tips to Increase Lean Body Mass

Post-Workout Breakfast Muscle-Building Shakes

Time Your Fueling for Peak Performance

Post-Workout Chocolate Peanut Butter Shake Recipe

A Customized Approach to Post-Workout Nutrition

Post-Workout Foods for Any Occasion

Fuel Up Fast With 4 Smoothies From the New York Giants

5 Protein-Packed Recovery Shakes

Fast Food and Student-Athletes

Eating to Reduce Post-Workout Soreness

Spice Up Your Workout With This Recovery Drink Recipe

Hungry? Try the DIY Protein Bar

Do You Need Protein Immediately After Your Workout?

The DIY Athlete: Homemade Fruit Smoothies

Elevate Your Game With Pre- and Post-Workout Nutrition

Fuel Your Performance With Salad: Here's How