When it comes to your body, knowledge is power. Literally. The better you understand your muscles and what they’re capable of, the more you can do with them, whether you’re acing a serve or turning heads at the pub.
But when there are about 650 muscles, and millions of individual fibers, to get intimate with, it’s more than a little daunting. So we’re going to keep it simple. Here’s the least you need to know to get the most from your muscles.
If you start getting bigger, it is most likely because you are also eating more. You may put on a little lean mass, but it should not cause you to outgrow your pants. In fact, if you clearly know what foods are acceptable, watching your nutrition, and doing resistance training, you should be getting smaller and leaner.
Resistance training has some proven benefits:
- Improved muscle strength and tone
- Weight management
- Prevention and control of health conditions such as diabetes, heart disease and arthritis
- Pain management
- Improved mobility and balance
- Improved posture
- Decreased risk of injury
- Increased bone density and strength
- Reduced body fat
- Boosted metabolism
- Improved sleep patterns
- Increased self-esteem
- Enhanced performance of everyday tasks
A Little Cardio Training
It is well known to those of us in the industry that excessive cardio (meaning more than 45 minutes steady state or 30 minutes of high intensity interval training) is too much for the average person.
After this amount of time, your body will start to become catabolic, which means it starts to eat muscle for fuel instead of food recently eaten and fat stores.
Strength Training Tips
Lift Weights for At Least 30 Minutes 3 Days A Week
You can use machines, free weights, TRX bands, weightlifting classes or a combination of these choices.
Take Breaks between Weightlifting Days
Do your weightlifting sessions every other day to give your muscles time to rebuild and strengthen.
Aim for Muscle Fatigue
The best results will happen when you push your muscles until they can no longer do the lift or exercise on the last step. You will tear and rebuild a leaner physique with this method.
Perform 1 Repetition Every 2 Seconds
This timing seems to be more effective than 1 rep every 4 seconds.
Rest for 1 Minute or Less between Sets
You can rest for longer between different exercises, but studies have shown that short rest times, especially with light weights, are better.
Drink Plenty of Water
You should aim for 16 oz. (0.47l) of water per every half an hour of a hard workout. Muscles that are hydrated perform better and you will get more out of your workout.
5 Nutrition Secrets For Gaining Lean Muscle Fast!
How Many Carbs Should You Eat?
Carbohydrates are the main source of fuel for our bodies… if you don’t consume enough, your body will break down muscle for amino acids it can convert into glucose. Glycogen is the stored form of Carbohydrates in the body, and under normal circumstances, the body can store about 400 grams at a time.
When Should You Eat Carbs?
The primary times to consume carbohydrates to take advantage of its protein sparing/anabolic capabilities is in the morning as soon as you wake up (because you haven’t eaten for at least 6-8 hours and cortisol levels are elevated) as well as post workout (high glycemic carbohydrates after exercise causes insulin to spike which pulls amino acids from the blood and delivers them to muscle tissue).
How Do You Make Use Of The Glycemic Index?
In general, lower GI foods are usually things like whole wheat bread, oatmeal, or anything else fibrous. High GI foods are usually those containing high amounts of sugar (regular soda, fruit juices, and fat-free yogurt, anything high in sugar). There is no evidence that sugar will make you fat (the concern is about total carbohydrates for the day and not necessarily glycemic index), but if you are trying to lose fat, the spike in insulin will prevent weight loss and the rush of sugar could cause you to “crash”.
Why Shouldn’t We Avoid Fats?
Most notable of the effects of healthy fats is reducing inflammation, increasing heart health, and lowering blood cholesterol. The fats you should be looking for are poly and mono-unsaturated fats, they are never solid at room temperature (ex: butter vs. olive oil). An easy way to up your dietary fats is to buy some peanut butter and eat your chicken breasts/ turkey sandwich with oil and vinegar for flavor.
In a study done in the Journal of Applied Physiology they found that serum levels of testosterone were elevated following exercise with subjects who consumed a diet that was relatively high in fat.
It is also well known that moderate amounts of fat while dieting for a contest are all a natural bodybuilder can do (outside of high intensity exercise of course) to make sure cortisol (a catabolic stress hormone) doesn’t completely evaporate testosterone. Just be wary of the fact that high amounts of saturated fats increase the risk of cardiovascular disease.
So How Much Should We Eat?
If you’re a hard gainer, and you’ve tried eating like there’s no tomorrow but to no avail; you can easily increase your calorie intake by adding in more fats into your diet (remember, fat is 9 calories per gram as opposed to the 4 calories per gram of protein or carbs).
If you can follow these guidelines for your bodyweight, sleep 7-8 hours a night, and lift at a high intensity with a different workout every 2-3 weeks you should be able to put on muscle over time.