"My job involves a lot of manual labour and heavy lifting. How can I best optimise my muscle gains?"
A job that involves heavy lifting can be great for muscle building, and some people would consider every day to be a free workout. On the other hand, a highly physical job, if not handled well, can be devastating to the pursuit of muscular gains, and can actually cause you to lose muscle.
There are three factors that make all the difference. The first and most important of these is the diet.
Physical Jobs and Diet
It's quite obvious that a physical job is going to burn more energy than sitting at a desk all day, but few people appreciate how much more energy. Someone who is doing a highly physical job that involves lifting and moving around can burn up to a whopping 500 calories an hour, which is close to one fifth of the average daily recommended intake for many men working a sedentary job.
Multiply this by a full day's work, and it becomes clear that people doing heavy manual work need to seriously supplement their nutrition to make sure they're providing their bodies with enough fuel.
If this energy deficit is not addressed, it can be a disaster, as the body burns not only fat, but breaks down muscle for the energy needed to perform this work. Not only will you lose your physique, but you'll be tired and run down, and your immune system is very likely to suffer.
It can be difficult for a very active man to eat all the calories he needs through food – this can be an uncomfortable volume of food to eat, and the most energy dense choices aren't always the healthiest. Mass gainer proteins are perfect for this type of situation because they combine muscle building protein with healthy carbs for energy, and are rich in essential nutrients, with many containing extra vitamins, minerals and aminos. Elemental Nutrition's Anabolic Mass is a great choice for the health conscious, with the added bonus of muscle boosting botanicals, while a product like Pure Supps 100% Mass has a huge ratio of carbs to protein, which makes it perfect for people who are pushing themselves all day and need the extra energy.
Physical Jobs and Training
The vast majority of physical jobs involve high volume, low intensity work. You're getting a great workout, lots of definition, and improving your functional strength capabilities, but this is not the strategy to make big gains. High intensity, low volume work is the way to go for hypertrophic muscle growth, and you're still going to have to put time in at the gym to get there. The good news is that lifting heavy at low reps is a time efficient way to train. Check out our article on high intensity training for a more in-depth look.
Physical Jobs and Injury
Avoiding injury is always crucial to growth and performance, but if you need your body to do your job, avoiding injury becomes even more crucial. This means safe work practices and safe lifting.
Learning to use proper form is one of the best things a lifter can do. Not only will this prevent injury, but it will make sure you're targeting the right muscles and getting the results you want. If you have any doubts, it's best to get proper advice from a trainer.
How can Supplements Help?
As discussed above, supplementing your dietary intake with a mass gainer protein can make the difference between wasting away and getting huge. Pick up something like the Smart Shake and you'll be able to pre-prepare your shakes and top up your energy and protein levels anywhere you can find a tap.
Because you're using your body every day, a proper recovery is vital for top performance and optimising gains. Branched Chain Amino Acids (BCAAs) have been scientifically proven to speed recovery and help your body build muscle, and they are of huge benefit to trainers with physical jobs, as can glutamine, which is depleted by physical activity and needs to be replenished. A good recovery protein after working out will also support muscle growth.
Getting enough sleep is so important for recovery, lean muscle growth, and overall health. A lack of sleep can seriously undercut your progress, and it can be difficult to get your full eight hours, particularly if you need to be onsite early the next morning. Sleep supplements like Elemental Nutrition Sleep & Grow, and Ronnie Coleman Resurrect PM are great solutions which also encourage the body to increase its own natural production of anabolic hormones like HGH.
Long-term health of your body is also something that is also worth considering. The health of your joints is crucial, because once joint damage has occurred, it can be crippling. Lifters and physically active people are particularly at risk of damaging their joints, so regular use of a joint support supplement can be a great investment.