As they say, muscles are made in the kitchen, not in the gym. Pay close attention to the balance of your diet. If you are feasting on protein and not much else, it's time to change your ways. "The notion that protein is the only important macronutrient for building muscle and strength is extremely outdated," explains Karina Baymiller. "Carbohydrates and fats are also important in the process of building and recovering muscle."
Just as the foods you eat leading up to your workout heavily contribute to your available fuel sources, the supplements you take can provide immense benefits, as well. A few pre-workout ingredients to consider include: branched-chain amino acids (BCAAs), which are critical for muscular energy and repair; beta-alanine, which can help improve muscular endurance; creatine, which supports both size and strength; and a nitric-oxide-boosting ingredient like citrulline malate.
Some people often place too much emphasis on food while they neglect other needs, like proper hydration.
"Your body is made up of 70 percent water, which means water plays a key role in your everyday function and peak performance," von Moger explains. "For athletes, staying hydrated is critical for performing at the intensity necessary to build lean muscle."
Drink and sip water throughout the day, during fat-loss and muscle-building phases. It's possible to confuse hunger with insufficient hydration, so it's especially critical to stay well-hydrated when cutting fat.
Drinking plenty of water is even more crucial during and after a workout, since even slight dehydration can actually limit your performance. Aim to drink at least 64 ounces of water per day, which is about two liters.
If remembering to drink water is a challenge, keep a refillable, wide-mouth bottle like a Nalgene or even a shaker bottle with you at all times.
You can also set multiple daily reminders on your phone to alert you to a water break.
Yes, there really is a rep range that builds the most muscle. Do no more than 20 sets per muscle group; closer to 12 is even better. Your reps should be between 6-12 per set for the most muscle growth, and your workouts should never last much longer than 45 minutes. In lieu of more volume, use heavier weights and move through each rep at a controlled speed. Your sets should last between 40-70 seconds; any less, and you're not tensing your muscles long enough to shock them into growth.
The ideal amount of sleep is seven to eight hours per night. You can let loose a night or two each week. But when you do, try to make up for it ASAP. Train no more than four times a week. As for your job, do whatever you can to avoid excess stress; chronic nervousness elevates cortisol, a hormone that makes your body store fat and burn muscle.