The principles of increasing body mass are simple, eat more energy than you use and you’ll put on weight. The question is what can you do to make sure that weight is explosive muscle rather than unwanted, and unhelpful body fat.

There is no need to switch to a radical regime of supplements and artificial meal replacements, or try to eat your own bodyweight in protein each day just to increase the size of your muscles. First though we must accept one thing, muscle grows slowly, and without the use of various cocktails of anabolic hormones people just don’t get as big as the guys you see in bodybuilding magazines. And as a martial artist or martial athlete, that wouldn’t be a great idea anyway. That kind of excessive, non functional muscle bulk is as useful to you as a big fat beer gut.

However, if you want develop your muscles to increase strength and power or just improve the aesthetics of your body then read on.

Good nutrition alone will not develop muscles, all of the recommendations here are based on the assumption that you are doing at least 2 sessions per week of resistance training following a well designed pro-gramme from a qualified fitness instructor or personal trainer.

The first mistake many people make when trying to ‘bulk up’ is to simultaneously set themselves the goal of ‘burning fat or getting lean’.

Although increasing your lean body mass will help to maintain a lean body composition in the long term if you want to lose fat weight you really need to cut clown on the energy intake. We can’t do the two things at the same time so it makes sense to build up the highly metabolic, energy guzzling muscle first, and yes we may add a bit of fat mass in the process. Then, once we’ve go the desired muscle mass and our energy needs have risen as a result, we can cut down on the calories and employ a few cunning nutritional tricks to strip away the spare fat and show off the hard earned new muscle we’ve been keeping underneath.

So here it is the recipe for putting on muscle. Increase your daily energy intake by around 200Kcals, mostly from complex carbohydrates, you can estimate your daily energy needs by multiplying your current bodyweight by 25Kcals/Kg then adding on half that amount again, add the 2200 kcals to this and you’ve got a target daily energy intake. Make sure you’re getting enough pro-tein, as a recreational weight trainer you will require between 1.2 – 1.7 grams of protein for every kilogram of bodyweight so to work out how many grams you need multiply your weight in kilos by 1.2 and 1.7 then read the labels on your protein food packages to check the number of grams you eat each day adds up to between these amounts. Too much protein is unnecessary and creates unnecessary work for your liver and kidneys so go easy on the protein supplements. Here’s a guide to the amount of protein in some common lean protein foods, remember that there will be some natural variation and the quality of the meat will affect the protein content:

Lean sirloin steak – 28g protein/100g Skinless chicken breast – 30.9g protein/100g Turkey breast (roasted) – 21.8g protein/100g Egg (raw or hard boiled) – 12.4g protein/l00g Tuna (tinned in brine) – 29.5g protein/l00g Beans, lentils nuts and seeds also provide protein but in lower amounts per lOOg and with a lot of fat, they’re a good option but in moderate quantities.

Keep to a healthy balanced diet with the occasional treat, follow the guidelines above and keep training hard, you’ll soon start to put on some size.

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