How to Eat For Muscle Gains

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Photo by Daniel Apodaca on Unsplash

When it comes to our food why do we usually eat? Because we are hungry? Or sometimes because it just looks dang good and even though we are full, we still want it? Why should we eat though? Well there are several reasons. The first is for health. I want to be healthy. Healthy now and healthy into my old age. And also I want to gain lean muscle mass. I am always striving to build more muscle.

Your reasons may look slightly different, but chances are if you are reading this, then some of those ring true. Now let’s face it, I like food too, I don’t think kale belongs in smoothies, and lima beans are at the bottom of the list for me, but there are also a lot of healthy things I love. I talk a lot about those things in my Facebook group.

I love chicken, I really do, I never was much of a beef guy, so that transition was easy. What was hard? Ice cream. I used to lay out a half gallon of ice cream in one sitting, no joke.

It took me some time to get over that one, but it didn’t come down to just more self discipline, it came down to me getting to the heart of the matter. I knew I didn’t want to look or feel like I used to, and so I knew it was either the ice cream, or something new. I chose something new.

And the crazy part? I don’t miss it. Okay sure, once on a rare occasion I do get an ice cream craving, but compared to when I first started leaving it behind, it’s like night and day.

So if you are struggling with giving up unhealthy options, pick one thing, focus on it, and then once you have that conquered move on to something else. For more on focusing on where your calories are coming from, check out this week’s episode of the podcast.

And also? Hang on to your reasoning. Write yourself a note, reminding you of the reasons and stick to it. If your reason is to build muscle, awesome! If it’s something else, that’s fine too. But find your why.

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Why Are You Not Losing Body Fat?

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Photo by Sander Dalhuisen on Unsplash

When it comes to food and getting in shape, one of the things that continually comes up are cheat meals. So what is the truth about them? Do they really effect your ability to gain muscle mass? Do they help you to lose body fat? Should you have regular cheat meals? There is tons of material out there that you need to eat crappy food in order to “shock” your body back into fat burning and lots of other nonsense (yes that’s nonsense).

But who wants to go forever without occasionally indulging or treating themselves to a night out or to a get cookout, right? But before you just go diving in and start shoveling down the hot-dogs and pizza like the zombie apocalypse is about to happen hold off.

There’s two elements to this if you are striving to gain lean muscle mass. The first is, don’t even think about getting in a cheat meal if you are just starting out on this journey. It takes time to build healthy habits and you don’t need to derail yourself right off the bat with a cheat meal that may lead you down a dangerous path. So if you are less than 6 weeks in, try to avoid a cheat meal.

 

The second main element here is not getting too overboard with a cheat meal. For instance let’s say you want to go to your favorite restaurant and are scanning the menu. Rather than opting for the 8 oz rib-eye with fried onion rings on the side, maybe grab the grilled chicken with a baked potato. It’s still going to be good, but a better option. You can have an enjoyable meal and it still not be terrible for you. I talk about this more in this week’s podcast episode.

Also think of it in the terms of a must have meal rather than a cheat meal. In other words only go for it if you absolutely must and can’t resist eating something from your old diet, but if you are feeling good, don’t just turn to a cheat meal, because it’s cheat night.

You are getting to eat healthy nutritious food that is packing on the lean muscle, so don’t view it that you need a “cheat” from that. Be smart about it, and be sparing with it, your muscle gains, and low body fat composition will thank you. I just wrapped up a 5 day nutrition video series over in our Bones to Bulk Facebook group, you can check out those here.

Why You Should Track Your Calories

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Photo by Andres Urena on Unsplash

Do you track calories? Should you? Is it important or not important. There are people on both sides of the fence on this one. I firmly believe that if you’ve never tracked calories your eyes are about to be opened to just how crucial nutrition is to gaining muscle and going from skinny to buff.

There are so many things in our food and different things we eat that we are completely unaware of. As a result it’s very easy to miscalculate how much we are eating and what the breakdown of our calories is.

You may have heard that you have to count your macro-nutrients. Now basically all that means is figuring out what portion of your calories comes from protein, what portion comes from carbs, and what portion comes from fat.

While it can be an aid, there is really no reason that you have to meticulously figure out your macro-nutrient breakdown. If you are eating clean and not eating junk food then don’t stress too much over the macros.

What you should be focusing on in order to gain muscle which we talk about in our free starters guide to get buff, is counting your calories. This is easier than ever now.

Just download a “calorie tracker” app, or if you have a fitness watch use the app that comes with it. Then just type in what you eat and the app takes care of the rest, adding up everything you’ve eaten and telling you what you have left.

If you don’t know how much you should be eating and how much you do eat, then it is going to be hard to pack on the muscle, so save yourself some trouble and start off with tracking your calories.

How to Gain Muscle Mass Without Weights

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Photo by Emre Karataş on Unsplash

It’s easy to get into the mindset that lifting weights is the only thing that will give you muscles. In fact when I started I thought that all I had to do was go in the gym and lift a little bit every day and I would start sprouting muscles. But that didn’t happen.

While lifting is an important element it’s not everything. Food plays a huge role but we are not talking about that today. For more on that check out our free starters guide to getting buff. But what I want to focus on today is how incorporating other exercises can go a long way to improving your strength.

It’s not just about throwing up some heavy weights. Often when we get involved in fitness we want to look better, but we all should want to feel better. And a big part of that is building up our flexibility and mobility. It can be easy to get stiff when lifting weights, which adds to the reason you need flexibility.

But flexibility also builds strength. Doing a resistant band workout can build strength just as much as bench pressing while also helping improve your mobility. That can then be transferred to the bench press for stronger lifts and larger gains.

So don’t skip the importance of this element. For more check out this week’s episode of the Bones to Bulk podcast.

How Flexibility Can Increase Your Gains

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Photo by Autumn Goodman on Unsplash

Often in the gym flexibility doesn’t come up much. I know it used to not cross my radar. But the more I lifted and the more I gained muscle I realized how important it was to stay flexible. What I didn’t realize until after was that it would actually improve my muscle building.

If you lift you should start building up your flexibility. This is done through a lot more than just stretching. There are tons of exercises that can help build your mobility. From working out with resistance bands, to box jumps, sprints, and sled pushes.

These all help improve your overall lifting ability. Because as you get more flexible you will find that your muscles have greater stretch ability and will aid you in your lifts.

Try grabbing a resistance band and doing different stretches, both for your upper body and lower body. Try it for two weeks and see if it doesn’t make a huge difference. For more on this check out this week’s episode of the Bones to Bulk Podcast.

Are You Doing This In the Gym?

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Photo by Jesper Aggergaard on Unsplash

Have you ever been guilty of this in the gym? You are catching your breath after a hard set that is pushing your muscle gains to the max and you whip out your phone. You glance at a few funny memes. Respond to a couple texts. Like a couple posts and before you know it you’ve blown five minutes. But in truth you’ve blown more than that.

When we lift to gain muscle we tend to think it’s all about how much we have on the bar, how much we are lifting that truly matters and little else. But in truth that’s one of the least things to concern yourself with, as it is all just about how we look in the gym (hint: no one is watching anyway).

In truth while the speed of our reps and our form is super important, so is time under tension. Time under tension is how much strain our muscles are under, and if we lift an insane amount of weight but rest five minute in between each set, our muscles have time to relax before we even move on to our second set. I talk a lot about this in our Private Facebook Group.

By doing this we are sabotaging our muscle gains. The key is resting LESS time. Rather than using your phone to distract you, set a timer. When you start your first set start the timer. Once you finish your set, don’t rest longer than 45 seconds before moving on to the next set.

Sure you will find that you can’t lift as heavy, but you will be getting stronger because your muscles are working that much harder. If you are really looking to change things up with your workout and push yourself check out this week’s episode of the podcast where we are diving into specific things to do int he gym.

How to Food Prep Fast

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Photo by Maarten van den Heuvel on Unsplash

When it comes to eating on point for your fitness goals and in order to get strong or gain muscle, you’ve probably heard about food prep. Maybe you have second thoughts about it and think it’s overkill. But let me tell you why if you are serious about hitting your fitness goals you have to be food prepping, and also how to get it done fast.

The reason it’s so important is because life happens. Work will run late, you will hit the snooze too many times, something will go longer than expected. It’s just part of life, and by prepping your food you are ready for whatever curve life throws at you and are not at the mercy of fast food or take-out.

Now the second part of this is planning it out. Food prep doesn’t have to take all day. First off put just a few more minutes into your grocery shopping planning. Figure out what meals you are going to do what meats you need, what healthy carbs, etc. Then go knock it out. Don’t waste time in the grocery store browsing, walk in there like you are on a mission, stick to your list, get in and get out.

Now when you food prep is up to you. I’ve done both. Sometimes I will shop one day and prep with my wife on another day, this is what I prefer, it breaks it up a little bit.

If you are wondering why this is all so important for gaining muscle and keeping to your fitness goals, you can find out more in this week’s Podcast Episode here.

Typically Sunday is my meal prep day. Around noon after lunch the kids go down to nap. The wife and I will put on some music and go at it. We cook up all the meat, cook things like our brown or wild rice, boil or bake potatoes, cut up veggies, cut up fruit, measure out and place snacks in ziplocks or small plastic containers.

Then once everything is prepared combine things if you are making casseroles. For instance we love doing fajitas with chicken, bell pepper, and onion. We cook all that up, enough for two nights, then put it in a throw away foil tin, cover it and freeze it. So when it comes the day to eat it, we just pull it out and throw it in the oven, add some of our already cut up veggies like lettuce and tomato and put it in some whole wheat tortillas.

It doesn’t have to be these crazy meals, just keep it simple. If you focus it should take you more than 3 hours or so. Now think about it. That’s less time than a football game. And all of your food for the entire week is all set up. Not to mention the hours you save every day not having to cook or try to figure out dinner or what you are going to eat.

To find out more meal prepping hacks, check out our Private Facebook Group.