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7 Muscle-Building Strategies for Guys

Experts share strength-training tips that yield results quickly.

5. Get lots of protein.

"If you want to build muscle mass, the key is protein, protein, protein," says Karas. "Muscles are comprised of protein and you need the essential amino acids that are the building block of protein."

No time to cook?  De Los Santos suggests high-protein snacks like cottage cheese, cheese sticks, protein bars, and protein shakes.  Health and nutrition stores carry a variety of powders which can be mixed with water or low-fat milk for an energizing protein power punch between meals.

Other recommendations include turkey, cheese, and cracker snack packs as well as frozen or prepackaged diet foods that combine protein-rich choices with low-fat, low-complex carbohydrates. 

6. Get enough sleep.

In addition to being linked to high blood pressure, depression, and other health problems, sleep deprivation can inhibit the growth hormone important for muscle building, says Karas.  Recent studies have linked it to obesity as well.

How do you know you're getting enough to build muscle?  People who are well rested feel alert and do not have the urge to nap, reports the CDC. The average adult needs between seven and eight hours of sleep, although some may need more. 

7. Hire a trainer.

If you need information or motivation, consider hiring a personal trainer. Costs vary according to location and experience, but typically cost between $30 and $85 an hour. 

A trainer doesn't need to be a long-term investment, however. According to De Los Santos, working with one for just three months is enough time to get comfortable in the gym, establish a routine, learn a variety of exercises, and see good results.

"A good trainer will educate while training and will not create long-term dependence," De Los Santos says.  "Ideally, you'll learn the skills to either maintain your fitness level or work toward new goals."

Be sure your trainer is certified through a reputable fitness organization like the ACSM, the National Academy of Sports Medicine, or the American Council on Exercise and has an updated certification in CPR and/or first aid as well.  You'll also want to hire someone you like, since you'll be spending at least an hour a week together.

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Reviewed on March 27, 2008

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