Many guys start NoFap for the benefits they’ll get.
And at first, the benefits seem to come “automatically” — all they have to do is stop touching their junk.
Men enjoy more confidence, less social anxiety, reduced stress, and better sleep.
But there’s one benefit that’s not so automatic.
Increased muscle mass.
It’s worth noting that NoFap isn’t a life hack that’ll pack muscle on your frame out of thin air.
There’s a lot that goes into sculpting a lean, muscular physique. We’ll cover nine tips to gain muscle on NoFap.
Our list includes things like getting enough protein, training correctly, and sleeping well. The kinds of food you should eat are also a big discussion in the bodybuilding community.
If you’re not convinced building muscle is worth it, we’ll also look at some benefits of gaining muscle.
Why You Should Gain Muscle
Gaining muscle comes with a host of benefits. Here’s the tip of the iceberg:
- More fat loss: Muscle increases the rate of fat loss. Muscle is an anabolic tissue meaning it burns energy at rest.
- It looks better: Your physicality can land you compliments and positively influence your self-concept.
- It can be healthier: If you’re not taking illegal substances to build muscle and going down the rabbit hole of body dysmorphia — a muscular physique is generally healthier than being overly skinny, skinny fat, or obese. However, this isn’t always the case. Many professional bodybuilders can attest to the fact that taking substances and going into single-digit body fat percentages is unhealthy.
- More presence: You’ll naturally command dominance and presence. This will help people pay attention to you when you speak. A well-built physique also conveys trust and leadership.
- Increased confidence: Looking better in clothes and with your shirt off can boost your confidence. This paves the way for you to smoothly navigate social situations. Higher confidence also translates well into your career and finding a job you love.
- It complements NoFap: Building muscle is generally in line with a lot of guys’ NoFap goals. They most likely started NoFap to put their life together — or patch up weaker areas at the least. The discipline and systemized approach to bodybuilding will help in other areas of life.
1. Set Realistic Goals
Getting jacked naturally takes years of hard work and dedication. So if the Incredible Hulk isn’t staring back at you in the mirror after a month or two, don’t get discouraged. Packing on lean mass takes patience and persistence.
According to Precision Nutrition, a realistic rate of muscle gain is 1-1.5% of your total body weight per month. This amounts to about 1.5 to 2.5 pounds of muscle. If you’ve been lifting for a few years, this number can drop to 0.5% per month.
It can take ages to transform your body. But when will you start to see results?
Beginners can usually see progress within eight weeks of starting a program. Remember to take pictures and measurements in addition to weighing yourself! The scale may fluctuate with your water, muscle, and fat gains/losses. For this reason, it’s sometimes not an accurate reflection of your progress.
2. Push Every Exercise Set to Near Failure
Training to failure is a popular way to gain muscle in the fitness community.
Failure is the inability to do another repetition of an exercise because of fatigue.
But you may want to train to near failure instead, here’s why.
Research shows that we recruit more motor units and our muscle activation is improved the closer we get to failure. So it makes sense why going to failure would build more muscle.
But training this way comes with a cost.
First, it’s fatiguing and requires a lot of motivation. But more importantly, studies show that it causes excessive muscle damage and prolongs your recovery time. This damage can carry on to your next workout if you don’t rest properly. And that’ll negatively affect your performance.
The sweet spot for muscle activation and motor recruitment caps 3-5 reps from failure. You also want a decent amount of volume in your set, so it’s advised to stop 1-3 reps short of failure.
3. Focus On Compound Exercises
If you’re trying to get the most bang for your buck in the gym — focus on compound exercises.
A compound exercise uses more than one muscle group. It also replicates natural movement patterns. For example, if you need to lift something heavy off the ground, deadlifts mimic that movement pattern well. Another great example is a pull-up. The muscle groups recruited are very similar to the ones used during climbing.
Examples of compound exercises are bench presses, squats, and deadlifts.
Training like this will allow you to hit more muscle groups faster. It’s also easier to progressively overload these movements (more on this later).
Take the squat for example. You’re training your glutes, quads, hamstrings, adductors, and hip flexors to name a few.
However, isolation exercises also have their benefits and shouldn’t be overlooked.
If your compound exercises leave muscles behind — you can use isolation exercises to train those muscles.
4. Progressive Overload
Your body is constantly adapting when you train.
At first, a certain weight will be difficult. But if you keep at it your body will adjust to it.
To keep building muscle and improving performance, you have to make your workouts harder.
This is called progressive overload. It’s the process of gradually increasing the difficulty of an exercise. This can be done by adding more reps, weight, or increasing the muscle’s time under tension.
Lack of progressive overload is a common reason why people stop making gains.
According to the principle of progression, you should limit an increase of intensity to 10%. This allows your body to adapt while keeping injury at a minimum.
5. Get Enough Protein
Eating enough protein not only helps you maintain muscle, it also promotes the growth of new tissue.
Protein is also the most satiating of the three macronutrients (carbs and fats being the other two). It keeps you fuller longer by reducing ghrelin. Ghrelin is a hormone that signals hunger to your brain.
If you’re trying to lose fat and build muscle (body recomposition), protein can be an excellent tool to reduce caloric intake.
The amount of protein you need has been debated in the last couple of decades. In the 2010s, it was common for many people to quote a figure of around 1-1.2 pounds per body weight (or even higher). To prevent complications, this is a solid guideline.
However, it isn’t always so cut and dried. The amount of protein a person needs depends on many factors such as gender, activity level, age, and health. Some studies suggest the benefits of protein intake for muscle growth cap out at 1.5g to 1.6g per kg of body weight.
If you’re extremely overweight, it’s recommended to use lean body mass to calculate your protein intake. This is because it’s less realistic for a 300-pound person to consume 300 grams of protein per day. At 4 calories per gram, that’s 1200 calories coming just from protein.
Beware that if you don’t get enough protein, your body will break down muscle.
It does this to give the body amino acids to maintain important tissues and perform bodily functions.
6. Lean Bulk
It’s easier to gain muscle in a caloric surplus than it is while eating at maintenance or in a deficit.
But how much of a surplus do you need?
A slight caloric surplus while putting on muscle mass is called a lean bulk. It’s advised to aim for 300-500 calories above your maintenance for a lean bulk. To calculate your maintenance calories, you can click here to use a calorie calculator.
You could go into an excessive surplus, eat all kinds of junk and still build muscle — but it’s not the healthiest route. Plus, if you eventually want to go on a cut to reveal those gains, it’ll be a longer cut.
Also note, it’s possible to gain muscle by eating at maintenance and even in a deficit. But being in a surplus is more efficient. The extra energy from the calories will improve your performance by letting you lift more weight, thus increasing the rate of muscle growth. You’ll see larger strength gains and may find it easier to progressively overload as well.
7. Get Sufficient Exercise Volume
When it comes to training, more isn’t always better.
Many fitness programs encompass a 10-15 set per muscle group per week routine. However, the amount of volume depends on the individual.
If you’re more experienced you can experiment with up to 20 sets per week. Be careful not to overtrain and listen to your body. If you’re doing 20 sets per week and feel burnt out, it may be time to lower your training volume.
It’ll also depend on the exercise. Some exercises are more damaging and will affect recovery. For example, a set of deadlifts will have a different effect on you compared to hamstring curls. While volume is important, it isn’t everything.
It’s widely accepted that enough volume will eventually cause you to reach a plateau. But there hasn’t been a study to show a loss in muscle mass by increasing volume yet.
8. Eat Enough Carbs
Many bodybuilders eat low-carb in the hopes of staying lean. But this approach can make gaining muscle a tough battle. Carbs are important for two reasons, avoiding muscle loss (catabolism) and creating glycogen to fuel your workouts.
According to experts, restricting carbs is one of the biggest mistakes people make when attempting to build muscle. Carbs are important because your body prioritizes burning carbs first. This preserves stored protein. And as you know, protein is needed to build muscle.
Without enough glycogen, your workouts may suffer. According to EatingWell, you should consume 8-10 grams of carbs per lean kg of body weight per day. This range ensures optimal performance and hypertrophy.
A good time to eat carbs is before a workout. They’ll be broken down and used as fuel. Also, be sure to eat carbs after a workout to replenish glycogen stores.
9. Sleep Well
Many people live busy lives. And it seems like the only way to get time for one thing is to sacrifice another activity.
The one thing you don’t want to skip is sleep.
Skipping sleep shoots your gains in the foot.
It’s vital for muscle recovery and growth. This isn’t something new. It’s been talked about for decades.
If you don’t get enough sleep, your body doesn’t have enough time to recover, grow muscle, and burn fat.
But how much sleep do you need?
The oft-repeated benchmark of “8 hours” is good to have. The National Sleep Foundation suggests 7-9 hours of restful sleep.
But a more nuanced discussion reveals that it depends on the person. You may need more if you’re training multiple times a day and working long hours. And if you have a lighter day, you might need less.
Lastly, pay attention to the quality of your sleep — not just the amount. Avoid blue light from screens a couple of hours before bed. Also, consider eating foods like yogurt to assist with the feeling of sleepiness. For more suggestions on foods to eat before bed, click here.
7 Foods to Eat for Building Muscle
Whole foods are generally packed with more nutrition and are more satiating than their processed counterparts.
These foods will enhance your performance in the gym, and get you more gains. Let’s take a look at seven whole foods you can eat to build muscle.
Eggs contain high-quality protein, healthy fats, and other important nutrients like B vitamins and choline.
Proteins are made up of amino acids, and eggs provide high amounts of the amino acid leucine, which is particularly important for muscle gain.
Additionally, B vitamins are critically required for a variety of processes in your body, including energy generation.
Salmon is an excellent choice for muscle building and overall health.
Each 3-ounce (85-gram) serving of salmon holds about 17 grams of protein. This is approximately 2 grams of omega-3 fatty acids and several essential B vitamins.
Omega-3 fatty acids play a vital role in muscular health. They may even increase muscle gain during exercise programs.
3. Chicken Breast
There’s a great reason why chicken breast is considered a staple for gaining muscle.
They are loaded with protein, with each 3-ounce (85-gram) serving holding about 26 grams of high-quality protein. In addition to this, it’s also the leanest part of the chicken. So if you’re trying to get more calories from protein and less from fat, chicken breast is a great option.
They also contain ample amounts of the B vitamins niacin and B6, which may be especially important if you are active.
These vitamins help your body function properly during physical activity and exercise that’s important for optimal muscle gain.
Moreover, this study examined a correlation between poultry meat and fat loss.
4. Greek Yogurt
Dairy products contain high-quality protein and a mixture of fast-digesting whey protein and slow-digesting casein protein.
Some studies have shown that people experience improvements in lean mass when they consume a mixture of fast and slow-digesting dairy proteins.
But, not all dairy is created equal.
For instance, greek yogurt contains approximately double the amount of protein as routine yogurt.
Greek yogurt is a great snack any time of day. But eating it after a workout or before bed may be helpful due to its mixture of fast and slow-digesting proteins.
In addition to 20 grams of protein per three-ounce (85-gram) serving, tuna carries high amounts of vitamin A and several B vitamins, including B12, niacin, and B6.
These nutrients are essential for optimal health, energy, and exercise performance.
Additionally, tuna provides high amounts of omega-3 fatty acids, which promote muscle health.
This may be particularly valuable for older adults. Analysis has shown that omega-3 fatty acids can slow the loss of muscle mass, energy, and strength that occurs with age.
This should be a staple of your intake if you want to gain muscle mass.
Beef is filled with vitamins and minerals essential to muscle growth. This includes iron, zinc, and B vitamins. More importantly, it gives your body high-quality protein and large amounts of amino acids that work with insulin to promote muscle growth.
For those who are seeking to lose weight, this should come as great news — a 3 oz portion of lean beef provides approximately the same amount of protein as 1.5 cups of beans but at half the calories.
7. Cottage Cheese
Not many people know this, but cottage cheese is almost completely pure casein protein.
Casein is a slow-digesting protein, which means it is ideal for muscle maintenance.
This is particularly useful for people who have no option but to go long periods without eating.
Cottage cheese is also an outstanding source of vitamin B12, calcium, and other major nutrients.
Many of the benefits from NoFap will come with little to no effort.
But building muscle isn’t one of them.
It’s one of the more difficult, and most desired benefits (for good reason).
Let’s face it — a chiseled Greek god-esque body is extremely attractive.
You’ll command more presence and feel more confident because of it.
But be realistic about your pursuits. Building a dream body happens over years.
And your dues must be paid in full.
Eat right, sleep well, and train hard and smart.
And finally, muscle mass complements an already awesome you.
NoFap is a tool used to improve oneself. And gaining muscle on NoFap neatly fits into that.
We hope you put these tips into action to improve yourself further on your NoFap journey.