Muscle Growth 101: The Basics

new skills training on black board If you either slept through your high school Science classes or just didn’t pay good enough attention, you might have missed the process of how muscles grow.

How muscles are made is one lesson that I wished I would have listened to more carefully back in the day. For the last 20 years, I have spent an incredible amount of time trying to make my muscles grow by training and eating correctly.

For all of you fathers out there, let me break it down simply because your time is the most valuable thing you have in your life at the moment.

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In the Beginning

man flexing bicepWhenever it was that you chose to start training and decided to get in better shape, it probably wasn’t a quick decision. You might have considered it for a while before acting on it. You may believe that you have only a rudimentary knowledge about fitness, but the basics are easy to learn.

And it takes more than just knowing how to use most machines in the gym good enough so you don’t end up on some embarrassing YouTube video. Exercise and an on-point diet are essential cornerstones to health and fitness.

When you entered into the fitness arena, you probably had two goals. One was to lose weight, and the other was to gain some needed muscle mass. However, if you are good at creating new muscle growth, it may take care of your weight problem. Muscle burns calories even while resting.

Wouldn’t it be nice to take a nap and still know your body is a fat burning machine? I’m not saying you will wake up noticeably skinnier like the character in Stephen King’s movie Thinner, but a good amount of muscle mass will keep your weight down.

With that said, you can’t out-train a bad diet. The normal daily calorie allowances for the average adult ranges from 2,000 to 2,500.

If you are consuming more than that, the fat in your body will literally be piling up. Plus, there are certain foods that you should be eating in your quest for muscle growth, and none of them include the words Hostess or Little Debbie.

Proper Diet for Muscle Growth

There are numerous diets out there, some offered by big-name celebrities or preached about by television doctors, but common sense says you do not need these. Keep it simple by getting rid of processed foods in your diet. They have very little nutritional value to them, so you won’t be getting new muscle growth by snacking on potato chips and french fries.

So what foods should you be consuming daily during your fitness journey to create muscle growth?

There is an old saying about not seeing the forest for the trees, and it basically means that someone gets all wrapped up in the little details and does not look at the big picture. When constructing the proper diet for muscle growth, you have to look at the total picture.

Protein is the building block for creating muscle. It is a macronutrient, with the other two macronutrients being fats and carbohydrates. Protein is commonly found in meat, and it has a high amount of it.

On average, three ounces of meat has about 22 grams of protein. But all meats are not equal. There are certain ones like chicken, turkey, and pork that offer more protein than others.

Meat isn’t the only place you can find protein. Other sources would be nuts, dairy products, and beans. Each of these can contain a good amount of protein if you choose the right ones. After a while, reading the nutritional labels in the supermarket will come naturally to you.

So How Much Protein Do I Need for Muscle Growth?

Before you kick your protein intake into high gear, begin a food journal and determine how much protein you are getting currently. This gives you a good base to work off of and improve from.

Not everyone will need to consume the same amount of protein for muscle growth. Much of it depends on your current weight.

There has been a rule of thumb in the bodybuilding arena for decades that you need to take in one gram of protein per pound of bodyweight daily if you want to create muscle mass and growth. If you weigh 200 pounds, then ingesting 200 grams of protein will help in your pursuit of Herculean muscle.

This may seem like a lot, and you could be wondering how you can achieve this goal. Finding a quality protein shake that you can take twice a day will be of great help. There are many that have 30 grams of protein in them or more, so they can be of assistance in meeting your objective. Having one for breakfast and one after your workout will provide you a high amount of protein and stop you from eating unhealthy food.

protein powder for muscle buildingProtein fills you up quicker than fats or carbs, so you stop eating sooner. This is a good thing for most of us. As a father, you might have had a lazy night on the couch once or twice after the kids went to bed. While everyone is sleeping, you watch a movie and eat a bag of chips in the process.

Isn’t it amazing how you can polish off a bag of chips and still be hungry? Substitute something with a high amount of protein in it and you will be better off. Some celery with peanut butter or a couple slices of turkey will provide you protein and leave you feeling satisfied without having to consume any heavily processed foods.


Just because you have an awesome new diet packed with protein doesn’t mean that people are going to start confusing you with a young Arnold Schwarzenegger anytime soon.

You still need strength training AND a good diet to produce muscle growth.

Here is how it all works. As you lift heavy objects repeatedly, it tears your muscle fibers in whatever part of the body you are working on. This is a good thing because the muscle fibers repair themselves by forming new muscle fibers. The new muscle fibers are just a little bit bigger than the old ones. This translates to new muscle growth and bigger muscles.

Strength training will have you tearing these muscle fibers much more often than if you lived a sedentary lifestyle or one where you just do cardio. If your goal is muscle growth, then strength training is just as important as your new protein-packed diet.

So What Muscle Building Exercises Should I Be Doing?

man struggling with weights gain muscle fastOnce again, think of the big picture. Would you rather do an exercise that focuses only on the tricep or an exercise that works back, shoulders, core, and triceps at the same time?

You want the most bang for your buck at the gym. These exercises that work several muscles at once are called compound exercises.

Compound exercises are often multi-joint movements. When more than just one joint is active, you are increasing the number of muscles you are training. Compound exercises will build more muscle in less time than if you did isolation exercises.

The drawback is that compound exercises can really take a lot out of you. Deadlifts, squats, military presses, and other such exercises should be performed during the first part of your workout while fresh instead of the last exercise. You will be able to lift more weight at the beginning of your training session than when you are dead tired.

Keep the isolation movements for the last part of your workout when you are feeling exhausted. Something like the preacher curl machine can just focus on your biceps at the end of your hour of training without taking your breath totally away.

Make the Long-Term Commitment

Your fitness journey is just that, a long journey. There has to be a commitment to it to receive the best results possible.

Still, on the other hand, you don’t want to go so full force into it that you quickly burn yourself out. This is what happens when people make their New Year’s resolution to become more fit. They hit it hardcore in January, but when February comes around they are like Chuck Norris and missing in action.

Set realistic goals for yourself in the quest to get healthier and create muscle growth. Getting into the gym every other day for an hour at a time is very doable. Four hours a week is not a huge time commitment, but it will yield amazing results.

Plus, you are then able to split up your workouts into muscle groups if you would like. Monday seems to be chest day in most gyms across the globe. Wednesday could be your back and shoulders day. Friday is the perfect day to do bis and tris so you get the blood flowing and your arms look bigger for the weekend. You can cap off the week by doing legs on Sunday then. When breaking it all up into sections, it makes it much more manageable.

The key is to not skip many days during this process. Training in March and then taking the entire month of April off will hurt your progression into becoming a muscular beast. Treat it a bit like a new job. You need to work hard and put in the time and you will receive benefits back that you can’t put a price on. Think of how nice it will feel when people start commenting that you are looking more muscular.

Dad bods are a negative term right now aimed at fathers who have let themselves get out of shape. We all need to work together and make having a dad bod a positive thing instead.

Perhaps you have been experimenting with FF30X with the Fit Father Project or maybe have tried a couple of the amazing meal plans. The next logical step would be the Fit Father for Life. It sounds like something you would call out in a game of Battleship, but the FF4L is much more than that. It is the next level for health and fitness with new programs that will have you seeing results.

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ryan headshotRyan Crawley
Writer, The Fit Father Project
Ryan is a fitness expert from Illinois with two decades of experience under his belt. Never one to turn down a challenge, he has taken every class any gym has to offer, even the Dance Kickboxing class. If 70s disco dance music starts playing, everybody should run for cover. You have never lived until you have kicked somebody in the head to Dancing Queen.

If you’re interested in a proven and completely laid out “done-for-you” weight loss meal plan & workout routine – designed for you as a busy man…

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*Please know that weight loss results & health changes/improvements vary from individual to individual; you may not achieve similar results. Always consult with your doctor before making health decisions. This is not medical advice – simply very well-researched info on getting healthy.