Thousands of Americans joining Crossfit, MMA and other such extreme sports to test their physical endurance and stamina.

However, muscle can be great for much more than simply athletic events, as strong muscles lead to a decreased risk of injury, better heart health and even improved mental functions.

Here are three ways to build muscle today:

1) Increase Calories

This seems counterintuitive, but if you’re trying to build muscle, you need fuel. Now, this doesn’t mean drive to the nearest fast-food restaurant and order a chocolate milkshake and fries. Foods such as cottage cheese, lean beef, oranges, brown rice, rotisserie chicken and nuts are great for helping your body build muscle.

2) Increase Water

If you want to grow muscle at a fast rate, the body needs water. You should be drinking water and eating water-laden foods throughout the day, and be sure to drink water before, during and after physical activity. Aren’t sure if you’re getting enough water? The color of your urine should be pale yellow or clear. If it’s darker, you aren’t hydrating enough.

3) Eat Often

Rather than two or three big meals a day, consider switching to five to six well-balanced, healthy meals a day. This will help to ensure your calorie intake for the day is where it needs to be in order to build muscle.

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