Maximize Your Muscles

For years men have chased workouts with protein shakes, hoping to take advantage of the "anabolic window"—the time when your body is primed to build muscle. Now a major new meta-analysis shatters that science. Its coauthor: Alan Aragon, M.S. "The critical factor for muscle strength and size is your total daily protein intake."

He advises men to eat 0.7 to 1 gram of complete protein—which has all nine essential amino acids and is found in meat, poultry, fish, milk, and eggs—for every pound of their target weight. "Include at least 20 grams of protein at every meal and snack," he says. "That ensures your muscles have the optimal amounts of critical amino acids, like leucine." Want more ways to increase your brawn? Keep reading for 3 simple muscles tips from Aragon.

Plan Meals for Muscle
"I aim for 180 grams of protein a day and eat four times: A big protein shake for breakfast; a smaller one before work out; and an early dinner that includes a piece of meat, chicken, or fish, plus greens and rice or potatoes. Finally, eat a late-night three-egg omelet with a side of Greek yogurt and a chunk of dark chocolate with peanut butter."

Power Up with Powder
"For my a.m. shake, I blend two scoops chocolate Optimum Nutrition 100% Whey Gold Standard with 2 cups black coffee, a banana, 1 Tbsp unsweetened cocoa, and a handful of walnuts. My pre-workout shake is two scoops chocolate MTS Machine Whey Protein with water." (Note: Aragon has no deals with these companies.)

Upgrade Your Workout
"To maximize my time in the gym, I’ve started doing ‘drop sets.’ On the final set of many lifts I go to failure; then I cut the weight by 25 percent and bang out as many reps as I can. I’ll also use the rest-pause method, where I take a set to failure, rest a few seconds, crank out a few more reps, and repeat. It really cranks up your heart rate!"

Written by Alan Aragon

You can learn more about health and fitness at MensHealth.

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