One of the biggest priorities for bodybuilders, athletes and anyone looking to make continual gains in muscular mass, density, strength and definition is avoiding entering a catabolic state. When your muscles enter a state of catabolism, they actually lose mass, density, strength and definition. This can occur due to improper nutrition, a lack of sleep, improper training techniques and more. By eating, training and resting with a strategy, you'll keep your muscles growing and avoid catabolism.
Strength train according to a regular schedule, such as one that has you weight-training at least four days per week with days of rest and/or cardio in between. If you only strength train your upper-body muscle groups once per week, for example, you won't be giving your muscles a good enough reason to grow in mass, density, definition and strength, and your muscles may enter a state of catabolism instead.
Eat plenty of complex carbohydrates in the morning after you wake up, before your strength-training workouts and before your cardiovascular workouts. If your body is lacking carbohydrates as an energy source for workouts, it may turn to protein as a source of energy instead. This will leave your body with less protein to utilize as building blocks for muscle tissue after your workouts.
Eat plenty of protein within one hour of completing your workout sessions. During this window of time, your body will crave protein to rebuild the tiny rips and tears that occurred in your muscle tissue during your workout. By supplying your body with plenty of protein, it will have what it needs to quickly repair this muscular damage, resulting in gains in muscular strength, mass, density and definition. Without protein, your body would have nothing to use in repairing muscle tissue.
Consume a high-protein snack, such as a shake made with whey protein powder, partway through your period of sleep each night. Keep the protein shake in a chilled, insulated container next to your bed, and set a gentle alarm to wake as softly as possible. Your goal is to only wake up enough to quickly consume the protein shake and fall back asleep. Although this may seem like a chore, it will prevent your muscles from going for eight or more hours without nutrition and entering a state of catabolism.
Get at least eight hours of sleep each night. According to a 2010 study published in the Canadian Medical Association Journal, participants who slept for under 5.5 hours per night for two straight weeks lost 60 percent more lean muscle tissue and 55 percent less fat tissue than participants who slept over 8.5 hours per night for the same study period.
- Consume several smaller meals per day, such as five to eight, rather than just three large ones. This will keep your energy, blood sugar and hunger levels more stable while supplying your muscles with a continuous stream of protein.