When it comes to gaining muscle and getting in shape, there’s probably not much that turns you off like hearing the word “diet”. And it should. Diets suck. Plain and simple. If you are a part of the Bones to Bulk Facebook group, you know that I can’t stand diets. And I’m going to give you 3 reasons why if you are trying to gain muscle, and get in the best shape of your life, why you should ditch the diet.
They set you up for failure. Diets by design are a temporary fix to a long term problem. They are set up to be temporary thing. Think about it. If you only temporarily put gas in your car and then stop, what’s eventually going to happen? You are going to run out of gas. Your diets can’t be these 30 day or 60 day fixes and then you just go back to how you ate before.
They teach you how to eliminate foods so that you accomplish your goals. Rather than teaching you how to eat and set up a firm foundation with eating, they only teach you what not to eat, so that once you are done, you go back to square one. Eating for true health, muscle gain, and overall fitness has way more to do with the healthy options that you add in to your diet, rather than what you take away.
Diets have an all or nothing approach. In other words, for x amount of time completely cut out x, y, and z. Our eating habits are built over a lifetime, and we can’t expect to all of a sudden completely change everything over night. Changing the way we eat takes a long time to fully conquer. It should be approached as a gradual climb, slowly replacing unhealthy foods with healthy foods.
Remember the key to gaining muscle, getting fit, and feeling amazing starts with what you put in your body. You can find out more at Bones to Bulk.
So maybe you’ve changed your body composition and have learned how to gain muscle and get buff. But you are not where you want to be and it seems the muscle growing has slowed down or tapered off completely. What is that next step to build more muscle?
All is not lost and before you get fed up with your lack of muscle growth, just know you can do more to grow your muscles. For starters, the reason things taper off is because you are growing muscle. Your body has become accustomed to this new you which means you’ve already taken great strides.
But now your body is ready for a new challenge in order to grow more muscle and bulk up. It’s a combination of pushing yourself further in your workouts as well as changing things up with your nutrition intake. I talk about this all the time in the Bones to Bulk podcast.
With your workouts, here are three things you can do to really push you body in the gym:
Do 3 new workouts every gym session.
Increase your amount of sets to five on every exercise.
Limit resting time in between each set to 45 seconds.
You will find just these few things can greatly impact your workout.
Second for your nutrition intake, your body needs a lot of clean power packed calories for that additional muscle growth. That means you have to eat more, but not just anything, you’ve got to eat more clean calories. Just increasing your daily intake by 500 calories a day can make a huge difference in the amount of muscle mass you put on.
So don’t get mad and throw in the towel as your muscle gains slow down. Change things up and dig deep.
When it comes to your nutritional intake are you eating to actually gain muscle? If you are skinny and want to have muscle or definition, you’ve got to be eating for it.
When weight loss is not the primary objective it’s easy to think that all we have to do is just go lift weights and we will naturally grow muscle. This was a common mistake I myself made when I first started. After all if bench press a lot of weight and crush it in the gym then those muscles will sprout. But that just isn’t the case.
While lifting in the gym is important, it’s just one piece of the puzzle, and it takes a lot of pieces to complete the picture. So what does eating for muscle gain look like?
It consists of first off eating enough. Chances are if you are naturally thin you have a high metabolism, so your body is burning off more calories than normal and it takes a good amount of extra calories in order to put on the muscle.
If you don’t have an excess of calories your body has nothing to build muscle with. It’s similar to if you were building a house, and decided you wanted to add on and build another room, but you only had enough material for the original plan. If you wanted to build the extra room you would have to take material away from another room, which would be counter-productive.
It’s the same way with our eating, we’ve got to have that excess. Now before you get too excited that doesn’t mean just go eat whatever you want in order to get extra calories. You’ve got to eat the right amount of calories or it will go to fat rather than muscle.
Lean meats, whole wheat and whole grain carbs, and lots of fresh veggies and fruit.
So when it comes to going from skinny to buff, don’t leave out the nutrition side. We are talking more about this in this week’s episode of the podcast, listen to it here.
It’s the new year and you are setting resolutions and goals. At the top of the list? “I want to get in better shape.” Changing something with your fitness is one of the top resolutions on people’s lists. But is your goal weak?
For starters don’t just say you want to get in better shape. What does that even mean? What is in shape mean to you? Do you want your clothes to fit different? Do you want to gain 10 pounds of muscle? Do you want to lose 10 pounds?
Now you’re not done yet.
How long do you want to take to hit your goal? Let’s say you want to put on 12 pounds of muscle, 12 pounds in 6 months. Broken down you know you need to gain 2 pounds a month. That’s much more tangible than just saying I want to gain muscle.
If you know you want to gain 2 pounds of muscle each month that gives you a clear idea of how much you need to be eating while working out in order to gain that.
After a month weigh in, and see if you are on track. If you are, then awesome! Keep doing what you are doing, but if you fell sightly short of it, then you know you need to increase your caloric intake.
If you just say you want to “get in shape” you are leaving your goal to chance and chances are, nothing will come of it. If this is something you truly want to change and make changes in then sit down and set specific goals. They need to be measurable (am I gaining/losing 1 or 2 pounds a month). They need to be time sensitive (how long is it going to take for me to hit my goal). It needs to be realistic (I’m going to gain 30 pounds of muscle in 6 months is not very feasible).
When it comes to the holidays do you worry about all the unhealthy foods that will be at the parties? The casseroles, the dessert table, the list goes on. But there are some ways you can help avoid binging all the crap food this holiday and cruising through without sabotaging your fitness goals.
Eat before. If you know you are going to a party, don’t avoid eating before hand. You don’t have to eat a full blown meal, but have a good sized snack. Try a half cup of almonds, and a cup of Greek yogurt. Both are protein packed and will fill you up. This one thing will help you overcome loading up your plate with all the things you shouldn’t eat. The reason is because first it does something mentally. You know going in that you just ate a healthy snack so you are more in the mindset of eating healthy, second you will be more full so your eyes won’t be doing the loading up on the plate.
Drink lots of water. Make it your priority to grab a water as soon as you get there. Whether it’s a bottle of water you carry around or a solo cup filled with water. This will do two things. It will keep you from grabbing soda or some sugar-laden tea and it will also keep you slightly fuller.
Pick one. While I do not propose that you make a habit of eating desserts. Occasionally it’s fine to have one piece as long as you know it’s not going to set you completely off course and cause a downward spiral. But pick out a favorite ahead of time. When you first see the dessert table choose one thing you really like and stick to eating only that one thing. Keeping that in mind that you will only eat one helps you avoid making a whole plate of desserts.
You can do this, you can get through the holidays, still enjoy going to parties and get-togethers and stay on track with your fitness goals.
Have you been working out but just can’t seem to make those muscles grow the way you want them to? Maybe you are seeing some slight definition but the growth just isn’t there. You are considering throwing in the towel and quitting. Maybe you’re just destined to be skinny and not buff.
Well fear not. It’s not just you, it just may take some more serious changes.
First off we have this concept when it comes to lifting weights that we have to lift the heaviest amount of weight possible in order to gain muscles. So we pile on the plates, load up the bar, and find ourselves pumping out a couple reps. And they are either half-assed reps at that, or our form is completely off.
If you want to build muscles it’s not about doing the traditional things.
The key to lifting is making sure your muscles are working hard. That they are under a lot of tension for a good amount of time. If you perform bench presses with 135 pounds and go to failure with 4 sets. You are doing way more for your muscle growth than if you get 1 rep of 225 up. Sure you had to exert some extra strength to get that 225 up but it doesn’t have any long lasting effect or a constant strain on those muscles. So get out of the mindset that you have to lift as heavy as possible.
Use less weights, but lift longer with that weight, so more sets, more reps, and slow down. Make sure your form is on point and that you are not speeding through the reps.
Another key element is making sure your rest times don’t outweigh your lift time (pun intended). It’s so easy to get lost on our phones or talking to someone on our rest. But I challenge you to start setting your timer on your phone or on your watch and limiting yourself to rests that are 45 seconds or less. You’ll find this to be much more challenging. Remember it’s that time under tension that really matters here.
The next thing you’ve got to make sure you are not neglecting is your nutrition intake. I hate when I hear people tell me they are bulking, or they are cutting. What this translates to me is, “I don’t want to eat right all the time.” That’s literally what it is. “I’m bulking” is a translation of: “Please excuse the fact that I’m downing a ton of unhealthy food every day.”
You want to grow your muscles? You have to feed them properly. You have to give them what they need, and loading up on empty calories with no nutritional value is not the thing you need to be doing, because that’s not aiding the growth of muscle.
Focus on eating right every day, and focus on eating the right amount. Enough can’t be said about this.
Finding that right amount can take work. It’s not easy finding the magical number that you need in order to get the most out of your muscle gains. Start out using a calorie tracker as a baseline. Plug in your information and go from there. You may need to adjust it and that’s okay, that’s part of it. If you are lifting hard, eating right and still not gaining, then increase your calorie intake by a couple hundred calories.
Fitness isn’t a one size fits all for everyone so it takes some time to really discover what works best for you. Don’t be afraid of this.
Something else that keeps us from gaining muscle in the gym is not working hard. If you’ve been going to the gym for some time you may be in a routine. Maybe you do the same exercises every day. Maybe you do 5×5’s every day. Maybe you do drop sets every day. If you truly want to grow muscles and break out of your skinny body, you’ve got to do what is uncomfortable. That means you do the exercises that you really hate, and change things up so that you are having to work really hard. So hard that you hate going to the gym. I There are many days when it’s not fun, when it’s not enjoyable or motivating or any other bull crap pie in the sky feeling that you think you should have every day.
I get it the gym is my 2nd home is it feels like, and I want to enjoy it. I want to have fun there, but I know that if there isn’t a little bit sense of dread for the workout that I’m about to do then I’m not working out hard enough.
That may sound harsh but in truth how much you hate your workout is a good measurement for if you are working out hard enough.
Gaining muscle takes work, that’s what makes it valuable. Because of the effort that has to be put into it. So don’t give up when it’s hard, because it’s going to be hard most of the time. You are responsible for you.
So don’t sell yourself short. Work hard. You’ve got this.