Commit to some form of strength training

Kent Adams, PhD, FACSM, CSCS, director of the exercise physiology lab at California State University Monterey Bay, says there are no shortcuts to excellent health."You don't have to train like a maniac," says. "Just start a reasonable, individualized resistance training plan."

Alternate muscle group

Weight training rips muscles microscopically, which recover and renew during rest. Without enough time to mend, muscles can suffer serious harm.ACSM suggests a three-day split:

Drink plenty of water -- before and after workout

Even without daily exercise, few people get enough water to build muscle. Karas recommends drinking 12 to 16 ounces of water before working exercise, in addition to the Dietary Guidelines for Americans' 8 to 10 glasses. 

Eat a balanced diet

Muscle formation requires a balanced diet of carbohydrates, lipids, protein, vitamins, and minerals, all digested through food.Karas advises against carbohydrate-heavy meals, which raise insulin levels and hinder muscle development hormones. 

Get lots of protein

"If you want to build muscle mass, the key is protein, protein, protein," Karas explains. "Muscles are comprised of protein and you need the essential amino acids that are the building block of protein."

Get enough sleep

Karas says sleep deprivation can block muscle-building growth hormone and cause high blood pressure, depression, and other health issues. It has also been linked to obesity in recent research.

See Also

Pump Up Your Health