When working with athletes, many of them want to know how to build muscle. There is a fine art to building muscle or muscle hypertrophy and it requires a multi-pronged approach. I see clients from all areas of sport, from running to body building, and muscle building is always a requirement – runners need more muscle to make them go faster and body builders need more muscle to compete.


There are a few areas that I look at when I work with my muscle hypertrophy clients:

  1. Training. It’s a bit obvious but something that many of my clients are not getting quite right. There is a fine balance between over training and undertraining. I have seen a few clients who are keen to build muscle and aren’t really getting there because they are only going to the gym twice a week for an hour or so – not enough. Muscle building requires overload and overload takes time so scheduling in more sessions can produce better results. On the other side, there are clients who are going to the gym for 2+ hours a day, 7 days per week. Muscle building requires rest, so the body has time to repair the micro tears that training has produced. No rest might mean results going in the opposite direction. Getting the schedule right may take some trial and error. You should never compare yourself to your friends and training buddies. No person is the same when it comes to the right level of overload, but I can help you work out a schedule and adjust it if required. I also have a wide network of trainers that I refer to that specialise in muscle hypertrophy to help you find your training sweet spot.
  2. Macros. You will notice that I didn’t go straight to protein. Protein is very important for muscle gain – we need it to build and repair muscle – but so are fats and carbohydrates so I would say that getting the macros right is more preferable than just focussing on protein. When I work with athletes for muscle hypertrophy I look at their daily routine – when do they get up, train, go to work, rest, etc. When the focus is building muscle, macros become very specific as done the timing around food and training. For example, if you do a big workout at the gym, then go straight to work without any food, your muscles won’t have the fuel to recover, repair, get stronger and get bigger (at this point, protein and a little bit of carbohydrate becomes very important). A pre workout snack is also very important to give you the fuel to train as hard as you want to, and this would definitely a carb/fat/protein combo rather than just pure protein. Many clients keep their protein low throughout their day then pack a whole chicken into one meal. However, our bodies can only absorb a limited amount of protein at any one time so they would get better results spreading their protein our throughout the day. I also see client who are packing in 3-4g body weight per kg protein per day (mostly in shakes) – crazy levels. Their guts are going to struggle to process such high amounts, they will only absorb what they can absorb and the rest gets processed through the kidneys, which can lead to renal overload. I try to limit protein to 2g per kg per day for my strength athletes and make sure the protein is spread out evenly throughout the day.
  3. When it comes to carbs, I recommend lower GI, high protein carbs such as wholegrains, beans, legumes etc – none of the white stuff. If your gut is not working well, you will not perform at your best. There are also a few athletes who do much better on a low carb diet so carb intake may be restricted to fruit and above ground vegetables. It all depends on the athlete.
  4. Caloric surplus. You need to eat more than what your body requires at a moment in time to develop the body you want. Caloric surplus should be around 0-10% in excess of what you are burning on a daily basis. I use 2 tools to decide basal metabolic rate (bioimpedance body composition analysis and ECAL testing) then I multiply by your activity level to ascertain how many calories you are burning per day. For example, if we calculate that you are burning 2000 calories per day, then we add 10% and give you a calorie intake target of 2200 calories per day. There are various apps on the market to help you with your calculations.
  5. Individuality. Very important. We are all very individual when it comes to our bodies. When I work with athletes for muscle hypertrophy, I look at all areas of their health that may be roadblocks in the way of their goals. You may have tried what your mates are doing at the gym and not got results. That doesn’t mean that you can’t become as strong and muscular as them, but you may just need a completely different approach.
  6. Rest days. Sometimes less is more. Overtraining can be very detrimental to your health. If you are getting injured more frequently than usual, or persistently fatigued, feeling low and unmotivated or your immune system is low and you’re constantly getting colds and stomach bugs then you could be overtraining. Training too much can lead to muscle breakdown rather than build up so train sensible and avoid following what others are doing. You do what works for you.
  7. Sleep. The repair mechanisms in our body kick in when we got to sleep. If you are out partying to all hours or just staying up too late watching TV every night you could be hampering your results.
  8. Micronutrients. There are a wide array of vitamins and minerals required for muscle synthesis and repair – calcium, magnesium, vitamin C, vitamin D, just about all of the B vitamins etc. Focussing too much on macros and not enough on obtaining kick ass nutrition from an amazing diet can lead to a lack of results. What are the best nutrition foods for building muscle – definitely not junk food! When you are working out at a high level it is very likely that at least some of the micronutrients will require some supplementation to give you the nutrients you need to achieve the results you want.

As you can see from this list, there are many aspects required for muscle hypertrophy. Take the guess work out of your training and nutrition. A pinpointed fitness and nutrition plan can be the factor required to help you reach your goals.


Fiona is one of my all time favourite people. After high school, I weighed in at 99kg. At 174cm, I have been overweight by 15-20 kgs for all my adult life. Until, at age 53, I met Fiona. She immediately diagnosed my primary problem and by following her dietary coaching, I lost 16 kgs in 5 months. More importantly, I have maintained this for more than a year now. Now, well into the second half of my life, life is good, very good. As I said, Fiona will always be one of my all time favourite people. Thank you Fiona.

Fiona ran a course at work and it was fantastic – I learned so much and she tailored the programs to each individual which worked really well. I reached my weight loss and health goals and it really wasn’t too hard and I still have treats!  More importantly, I feel much better in myself for making food changes and continued to see her independently when the course at work finished.
Charlotte Carlish
Indigestion, stomach pain and abdominal cramps, were an every day occurrence for me. I was quite desperate by the time I found Fiona. With the help of some supplements and allergy testing, Fiona Took me on a journey of discovery. Thanks to her professional and kind guidance, I now  know which foods to avoid and which ones will help my gut to stay healthy.  For the very first time in a long time, my tummy now feels quite normal and I no longer suffer any of the above conditions. To say Fiona has change my life may sound rather dramatic but it is completely true and I will be forever grateful to her.

Feeling Great, Losing Weight!

I have been working with Fiona at Physical Nutrition for about 10 weeks through a corporate program run my employer.  Losing weight and making some real changes to my dietary lifestyle has been a game changer for me.  Through her weekly tutorials, Fiona has taught me about the food I eat, what is best for my body and to gauge how I feel after each meal.  Combined with a sensible exercise routine of walking and cycling, I have managed to drop my weight by 7kgs during this period.  My energy levels are up, I’m feeling fitter and I’m eating much more balanced meals and now know which foods to avoid and which to eat more of!  It’s been a great experience and I would highly recommend Fiona’s program.

I have recently completed the Physical Nutrition 10kg in 20 weeks program and I couldn’t be more thrilled with the support and guidance Fiona has provided.
The 10 in 20 program not only helped me change my habits by giving me a coach that kept me accountable but also helped to educate me to make better nutrition choices in the future.
Thank you again Fiona & this is just the beginning, I’m not going anywhere ☺️
Paris Doran
Fiona has been working with the City of South Perth over the last year.  She has developed a customised 10 week health coaching and nutrition program with us which the City now offers as part of its suite of health and wellbeing benefits.  All of the participants were overwhelmingly positive about the program.  They rated the program highly on the aspects of Fiona’s professionalism, approachability and knowledge, as well as the results they had achieved.
I would recommend Physical Nutrition to any organisation looking to develop staff benefits.
Gillean Sharp
Physical Nutrition/Fiona Murray has really helped my husband and I to achieve our weight loss and lifestyle goals. Her advice, support and knowledge during the 20 week challenge has set us up to lead a healthier and balanced life style. We thought we had enough food and exercise knowledge before meeting Fiona but she has kept us on track, motivated us and through her group classes has kept us entertained and true to our goals! Thanks Fiona!
Alison Thair
My son is 21 and has been ill for years and part of it was Diet, and we have been to many nutritionalist’s but FIONA MAKES SENSE and TELLS YOU WHY you should be careful what you eat. She changed my sons life so I sent my Daughter who had auto immune issues and she has helped her. It is now my turn so I will keep you updated. Highly recommend her she is also very understanding.
Lisa Mann
I have been with Fiona at Physical Nutrition for several months in relation to skin and gut problems and for weight loss. Fiona is knowledgeable and supportive. I am slowly losing weight and my skin and gut issues are improving. Fiona works in conjunction with my integrative medical practitioner which is a very helpful. First time I have had any positive results, a slow but worthwhile approach.
Lynne Besant