1. Eat more calories and protein More protein is always a good thing when you’re trying to build muscle. Photo by Sarah Boudreau on Unsplash. Bodybuilders know the phrase “mass builds mass.” Muscle growth is an output, and all outputs require inputs. If you’re trying to build muscle, you need to eat more calories than you burn each day — ideally, many of those calories would come from high-quality sources of protein. Many people who say they can’t build muscle are really just afraid to eat more, fearing the “bulking” phase of muscle growth during which you gain weight. While it is somewhat possible to maintain a lean body composition while building muscle, you’ll have to come to terms with the fact that building muscle temporarily means gaining a little bit of body fat. Instead of focusing on weight gain, use your muscle-building phase to enjoy the strength and energy that come with extra calories. 2. Follow a structured training program A periodized training program developed by a personal trainer helps you build muscle faster. [this image came from the ShareFile). Do you walk into the gym with a plan, or do you blindly throw down weights each time? To build muscle (or to meet any fitness goal), you need to put intention behind all of your workouts. Without intention, there is no plan, and without a plan, you won’t build muscle — at least not as quickly or efficiently as you could with a plan. A periodized training program accounts for your fitness goals, training history, and current fitness level. Over the course of 6 to 12 weeks, a structured workout plan takes your physique from “clearly works out occasionally” to “wow, I want to look like that person.” Muscle comes quicker on a periodized plan because your trainer can carefully manipulate variables like intensity, volume, and frequency to keep you progressing. 3. Do less cardio Too much cardio can stall your muscle growth progress. [this image came from the ShareFile] Before getting into the details about cardio and muscle growth, let’s clear one thing up: Cardiovascular exercise has its place. It’s essential for your overall health and can help you lose body fat, among other benefits. However, too much cardio does have a negative effect on muscle growth. Muscle grows in response to activities that require strength and power, while on the flip side, muscle growth stalls when endurance is the necessary outcome. To visualize this, picture an Olympic sprinter and an Olympic marathoner — two phenomenal athletes with insane fitness. However, the sprinter typically has thicker, more defined muscles, while the marathoner typically has less definition. Both athletes run, so what’s the deal? Sprinting requires maximal output for a very short time (i.e., explosive strength) and a sprinter’s body reflects that. Running marathons requires submaximal output for a very long time (i.e., endurance), and because muscle takes up a lot of energy, a professional marathoner’s body will utilize as little muscle as possible to get them across the finish line. Moral of the story: If you’re hitting the treadmill every day, tone it down a notch if you want to build muscle. To learn more about building muscle, ask a World Gym personal trainer about workout plans and muscle growth strategies.