Hey there! I thought today’s post would be a brief reminder on what it takes to build lean muscle. This is probably one of my most common requests from athletes, adult and teens alike. Everyone wants to be leaner or bigger or stronger. So, I’m touching on the topic today as a reminder of what it takes. If you have really specific goals, I highly recommend you get with a registered sports dietitian to help fine-tune your goals and walk with you through the process.
5 Keys to Building Muscle in the Young Athlete
Resistance Training. I think this goes without saying, but, if you want to build lean muscle, you have to work those muscles! Changing your diet without doing anything to stimulate the muscles will not lead to muscle growth. But remember, as I said in my previous post, children and teens cannot build muscle (or mass) like adults until they hit or finish puberty.
Protein. You’ve gotta get your protein. However, you can’t load up on protein in one meal and call it a day. No, you need to space your protein intake out evenly throughout the day for optimal utilization. To all of my high school athletes out there, that means eating breakfast (or at least something in the morning)! A missed meal is a missed opportunity to build or maintain lean muscle.
Carbohydrate. It’s sad to me how carbohydrates get such a bad wrap because they are so necessary for all humans, but especially, athletes! Not only are they a major energy source but they are necessary for building lean muscle. If we don’t give our bodies adequate carbohydrate for energy, they will have to turn to protein as an energy source during our more intense workouts and events. This completely defeats our efforts of resistance training and increased protein intake. If you’re trying to build muscle for your sport, allow yourself carbohydrates so your body can use it as fuel and allow the protein to build or maintain that lean muscle!
Calories. I don’t often talk about calories on my blog, but it does require a mention here. If you want to build muscle (or mass), you need to increase your intake to allow for this. It’s hard for our bodies to add mass if we don’t give it additional calories (or energy) to work with.
Rest & Recovery. And remember, while often overlooked, rest and recovery are also needed. Our bodies need time to rest and recover from workouts in order to see the best results.
I hope this was a helpful post. I’m not getting too specific because every person and every athlete is different, but, if, you need specific recommendations, reach out to a sports dietitian in your area or you can contact me! I am happy to try and connect you with a sports RD in your area or we can set up a session and see about working together.