How To Get Fit and Build Muscle

go from skinny to buff

I get told sometimes that being fit must be easy for me.  No it’s not.  In fact sometimes it sucks.  There are days when I get really tired of eating the same thing day in and day out.  Not all healthy food tastes good.  Don’t get me wrong there are some great healthy meals, but after awhile you start to exhaust yourself on brown rice, sweet potatoes and chicken.

When I get home from work I immediately take about 15 minutes and make my next day’s breakfast smoothie, pack my lunch and snacks for the rest day and do some other prep.

4:45 comes super early and some days I would rather throw my phone across the room and stay under the warm covers, than get up and drag my butt to the gymGetting fit and building muscle takes work.  It’s not an easy road.

how to gain muscle

So why am I saying all this?  Am I trying to get you not to work out?  No.  Despite the fact that it’s hard some days, and I don’t want to do it.  I wouldn’t trade it for anything, because the payoff for how I feel is worth it.  Working out is not easy.  It takes habit and it takes time.  Don’t be discouraged if you set out on this journey and a few weeks in you don’t see change.  This stuff takes time.  I’ve been doing it for years and I’m still working towards goals.  That’s okay.

Look at it this way.  If you don’t start today, and say “It will take too long” what will happen?  Time will pass and a year will go by, and then the next, and you will be exactly where you are now.  So why not start? Even if you don’t hit your end term goal in a year, you will be way far ahead of where you were.  So go for it.  Will it be easy?  Not always, but it will be worth it.  Do it for a strong you, a healthy you, an active you.  Do it for yourself, for those around you and for those who look up to you.  You’ve got this.

The key to fitness is not found in the perfect workout plan, or the next fad diet, or some new supplement that your friends are raving about.  It’s found in the day in and day out habits and routines that are essential to your success.  So stop telling yourself you can’t.  You can.

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Think You Can’t Do It?

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What is it that holds you back in life?  Doubts, misgivings, criticism, lack of an education, lack of motivation, your job, your friends?  If you are living on this planet and have goals and dreams then you also know that life throws you all kinds of things to hinder you.  There will be obstacle after obstacle to keep you from obtaining your goal.  No where is this more true than in working out.  Just when you decide to get a gym membership and go to the gym, you will have to work late.  Or just when you decide to eat healthy you get invited out to dinner by some friends.

There will always be things to hinder you, but it’s a matter of whether or not you truly want to change.  Now before you go and say of course I want it, let me explain.  Everyone says they would love to be successful, or wealthy, or have a six pack, but not everyone puts in the work and time to do it.  This is because while some people say they want it, they don’t truly want it because they aren’t truly willing to make changes to make it happen.

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Whether you want to start a business, start a family, or start getting fit, it takes work.  And a lot of it.  Nothing worth having comes without a cost, and while this may be scary, it’s actually a good thing.  Because you know that the work you are putting in will bring a change about.  It might not be overnight, in a week, or in a month, but if you put in the work and build good habits like eating healthy, eating small portions, and exercising then you will see results.

So don’t be afraid to work hard for your fitness goals.

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Planning Your Muscle Building

how to build muscle
Photo Credit: CCFoodTravel.com, https://www.flickr.com/photos/cumidanciki/

So you want to get some muscle, maybe it’s some hard core bulking you would love to do, or maybe you just want some definition.  Regardless of what your goal is you have to have a goal.  And you have to have a specific goal.  For instance “I want to gain 10 pounds of muscle in three months”.  Your goal needs to be measurable.  Now that you have a goal, you need a plan.

Plan to workout at least four days a week.  I recommend breaking those days up.  For instance 2 on, 1 off, 2 on, 2 off etc.  Train different muscle groups on different days.  In addition if you are wanting to lose some weight in addition to building muscle add some cardio in at the end of each workout.  At least twenty minutes of it. Figure out what time of day you are going and to what gym, and make sure it happens.  Whether it means hitting it on your way to or from work, or after you get home.  Take a gym bag with you so you head straight to the gym.

skinny to buff
Photo Credit: Carol VanHook, https://www.flickr.com/photos/librariesrock/

Then plan out your food.  Get rid of the sugary sweet drink and foods in your kitchen. Replace it with lean meats, turkey, chicken, or fish.  Get plenty of fresh veggies.  Whole grain carbs like wild or brown rice, sweet potatoes, quinoa, couscous, etc.  Get healthy snack food like tree nuts and greek yogurt.

And how much should you be eating?  That is going to depend on whether or not you are wanting to lose weight and gain muscle, or just gain muscle. Get an app like “myfitnesspal”.  It lets you plug in your info and will tell you how many calories a day you should be eating for your specific goal.  Make sure you hit this calorie goal each day by eating clean calories.

Build your routine, your habit.  That is what is going to keep you going when your motivation fails.  Stay strong.  You’ve got this.

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What Does It Take?

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What does it take to really hit your fitness goals?  The perfect workout plan?  An on point diet?  Sure these things can help but do you want to know what you truly need for success?  It’s the willingness to do what others won’t.  See, fitness and achieving your goals is more about starting and sticking with it than anything else.  It’s committing to the process come hell or high water.

Sometimes we can get so consumed with having to have the right plan.  Or telling ourselves, “I’ll start when I have more time”, “I’ll start when the kids get older”, I’ll start when I have more money”,  “I’ll start when my job is less tiring”.  The truth is with that attitude you will never start.  Because if you are not willing to start now, then you won’t be when some magical “what if” happens.

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Photo Credit: Leo Leung, https://www.flickr.com/photos/mleung311/

You have to be willing to get up earlier, stay up later.  Take those free 4 hours on Saturday and go to the grocery store and prep food.  Take that time on Sunday to get to the gym.  It’s doing those things that yes are hard.  When that alarm goes off at 5 am and you are nice and cozy in your bed and don’t want to get up to go to the gym, get up anyway.  When you want to gorge on ice cream and that burger stop and eat something that will strengthen and fuel your body instead.

Change comes through doing these small things consistently.  And then over time the compounded effect of those consistent daily decisions to do the hard things that others refuse to do will bring complete change for you.  So get out there and start now.  You’ve got this.

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Don’t Have Time to Workout?

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Photo Credit: Sean MacEntee, https://www.flickr.com/photos/smemon/

Have you or someone you know ever said “I don’t have time to workout“?  I have heard this a lot, and it’s one of the oldest excuses in the book.  Every person on this planet has an equal share of one thing, and that’s time.  We all have 24 hours in a day and 7 days in a week, and before you say that your situation is unique I promise there is someone out there way busier doing far more.  I say this because I know there are people out there way more busier than me doing way more.

It’s not about not having enough time to eat healthy, or not having enough time to workout.  It’s about where we place our priorities.

How many hours a week do you spend in front of Netflix?  Or on Instagram?   How many hours a week do you spend playing video games or talking about events in hollywood that have zero relevance on your life?

how to build muscle
Photo Credit: Jennie Johansson, https://www.flickr.com/photos/jenniesphotos_/

My point is you have the time.  It’s a matter of using your time wisely and effectively rather than wasting your time on things that will get you no where in life.  Come up with  a schedule, wake up earlier in the morning.  Sure this is going to take some work, but you can make change regardless of how busy you are or how much work you have to do.  So get out there and kick some ass and stop using time as your excuse.  You’ve got this.

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Making the Impossible Happen

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Photo Credit: Arya Aiai, https://www.flickr.com/photos/aryaziai/

So maybe you’ve met with some failure in your fitness goals. Maybe you are tired of starting and failing. Maybe you think it’s impossible for you to lose weight, or to gain muscle and bulk. But let me tell you something. It’s not impossible. Is it easy? No but it’s possible and it’s worth it.

From way back when, we as humans have always wanted to better ourselves. There’s nothing wrong with that, and we should always strive to better ourselves, both mentally and physically.

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Photo Credit: Arya Aiai, https://www.flickr.com/photos/aryaziai/

There are several reasons fitness journeys can fail. Two big reasons are that we put all our faith in a diet. Diets don’t work. They are set up for failure so that you have a temporary fix to a long-term solution. Then as soon as you go off the diet you go back to your old self. The second reason is because we don’t give it enough time. Rome was not built in a day and we can’t expect to transform our bodies in a matter of weeks or even months.

So what to do? First start eating clean. Cut out one unhealthy item every week and replace it with something healthy.

Start exercising, at least four days a week. Get a fitness app for free and track how many calories you should be eating to either gain weight or lose it, and track your food. Yes some times it’s a pain to log every thing but if you truly want change you’ve got to invest some time into this.

As you begin to cut out unhealthy foods and implement new healthy foods you will slowly but surely begin to look different and feel different.

So go for it. Stop putting off what you know you can start now. Fitness is an adventure waiting to be sought after. Go out there and get it. As with any adventure it will have its ups and downs and its good times and bad times. But you’ve got this!

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The Importance of Habit

how to build muscle
Photo Credit: Victor, https://www.flickr.com/photos/v1ctor/

If I had to say there was one thing that is the key to your fitness success, it’s habit.  Habit in your eating, and habit in your exercise.  People often ask how to get motivated to lose weight, or how to get motivated to eat healthy.  But there is no such thing as motivation that doesn’t leave you feeling “un-motivated”, because motivation wears off.  It doesn’t last.

You can’t depend on it to keep you going long term, and that’s where habit kicks in.  Habit is hard to create, but once you have the habit, it will go far longer than motivation ever will.  Habit keeps you going on the days when you don’t feel like eating clean, or going to the gym.

skinny to buff
Photo Credit: Health Gauge, https://www.flickr.com/photos/healthgauge/

So how do you build habit?  For starters you have to set yourself up for success.  So if you are telling yourself you are going to work out x amount of days each week then do it.  Get your gym membership and go.  Lay out your clothes the night before, set multiple alarms and keep your phone on the other side of the room.

If you are going after work, take a bag with you and go straight from your work to the gym.

The same rules go for eating.  Set yourself up for success.  Don’t have junk food in the house.  Go shopping and get clean food, and as soon as you get home, start meal prepping.  Pack your breakfasts, your lunches and plan out healthy dinners that are ready to go each night.  You have to plan appropriately in order to build your habit.  So get out there and lay down some solid ground work that will get you on your way to healthy habits.

How To Go From Skinny To Buff

how to build muscle
Photo Credit: DavioTheOne, https://www.flickr.com/photos/daviotheone/

So how do you make great gains in the gym.  Well there is not an easy answer to all that.  The truth is it takes a lot of things to get in shape.  From your diet, to your routine, to your lifting.  But today we are solely going to focus on lifting.

How do you improve your lifting?  For starters slow down.  It can be tempting to breeze through your reps and get your sets done, powering through them to hit that magic number you are aiming for while your form goes to crap.

Every single rep matters.  So make sure that you are doing each one correctly and slowly.  When you do your repetitions go slow on the lifting part, and even slower when you are returning to your rest position.  This extra force will stretch your muscles big time.

how to build muscle
Photo Credit: dqpagan, https://www.flickr.com/photos/146365169@N02/

Another thing that is often overlooked is form and maintaining the full range of motion when doing a repetition.  For instance when you are doing a barbell curl you need come all the way up and all the way down extended the arms out.  On bench press, that bar should be hitting your chest when it come down and then extend your arms when you go up (but don’t lock out your elbows).  If you have to lower the amount of weight you are lifting in order to do this, then do so.  Focus on your form, focus on your speed and you will find yourself becoming much stronger over time.

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How To Stay Motivated

going from skinny to buff

So have you ever had one of those mornings or afternoons when you really just don’t want to go to the gym, or for go our for that run? Yeah I know they suck.  So how do you get past those moments when you just want to pull the covers back over your head, or turn on the TV and zone out?  It’s called habit.

Habit can take time to develop, but it is what keeps you going when you don’t feel like doing it. Motivation comes and goes.  There is no long lasting motivation that will never wear off, because motivation is temporary.  But habits are hard to break.

how to gain muscle

We often think about habits as things that are bad, but habits can be good too. Once we get into the habit of eating healthy and working out then we feel like something is off if we miss a workout, or start eating like crap.  So if you are trying to figure out how to keep your motivation for the gym and healthy eating alive, stick with it and get that habit developed. It will be your best friend when you don’t feel like it.