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7 Muscle-Building Strategies for Guys

Experts share strength-training tips that yield results quickly.
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3. Drink plenty of water -- before and after workouts.

Adequate hydration is essential to muscle building, yet few people get enough water, even without daily exercise. So in addition to the daily 8 to 10 glasses of water recommended by the Dietary Guidelines for Americans, Karas suggests an additional 12 to 16 ounces before working out. He then recommends another 8 to 10 ounces for every 15 minutes of vigorous exercise.

Prefer sports drinks? Indulge only if you're exercising for more than an hour, when electrolyte depletion becomes more of a risk.

4. Eat a balanced diet.

Muscle building requires a careful balance of carbohydrates, fats, and protein as well as plenty of vitamins and minerals, all of which are best absorbed through food. 

Avoid carbohydrate-heavy diets, which can cause insulin levels to spike and inhibit growth hormones that prompt muscle growth, says Karas. Instead, opt for five or six small, balanced meals every day. And if muscle building is your goal, don't use this time to diet.

"The body won't easily put on muscle if it is at a caloric deficit," explains De Los Santos.

Watch your fat intake, which should be no more than 30% of your total daily calories, and be sure to consume plenty of vitamin- and mineral-rich fruits and vegetables.

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. 

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