If you’re looking to put on muscle, you probably think you need to hit the weight room every day for hours at a time to see results. Most people have the misconception that they should do strictly cardio for fat loss, and only lift weights a ton to gain muscle. In reality, there’s an easier, much more achievable approach to putting on muscle and getting the results you want.
To start to see muscle gain, fitness expert and trainer Jillian Michaels, who created the My Fitness by Jillian Michaels app, told POPSUGAR you need to lift four times per week. “Train each muscle group twice a week with two days of rest between training that particular muscle group,” she said. So you could do upper body on Mondays and Thursdays, and lower body on Tuesdays and Fridays. If you are also looking to shed fat, she recommends throwing in a couple days of cardio or HIIT.
Turns out, seeing muscle gains versus losing weight isn’t so much about how you work out as it is about what you eat, Jillian explained.
“The difference between weight loss and muscle is really about food,” she said. “If you want to lose weight, you have to create a calorie deficit. If you want to gain muscle, you need to have a calorie surplus. Eat 10 percent more calories than you burn in a day.”
It’s also key to load up on protein if you are trying to gain muscle: ideally 0.5 to 0.8 grams of protein per pound of body weight, according to registered dietitian and personal trainer Jim White, ACSM. So if someone weighs 150 pounds, he or she should be eating 75-120 grams of protein daily to gain muscle.
So if you are really looking to see those muscle gains, don’t stress out about hitting the gym every day. In fact, some rest days are good for you. Just make sure when you hit the weight room, you’re ready to put in the work.