There are an insane amount of supplements for working out and everything else out on the market. Some promise the world but do they really deliver, or are they worth all the hype that marketing has built them up to be? Well while this is only my personal opinion, I think they are hyped too much.
Now don’t get me wrong I do take supplements, I take whey, I take a pre-workout, fish oil and a multi-vitamin. These are all things from personal experience, that I know help me. That doesn’t mean I can say across the board they are for everybody, and I do think that you can get fit, get lean, get bulked, or whatever your fitness goal is without supplements.
I think whey does play an important role both in weight-loss and muscle growth, again I do think there are other ways but for instance I have to eat a lot of calories in a day to maintain my current muscles, if I don’t I begin to drop weight, as a result whey helps me hit my target calorie goal every day without having to constantly be eating or cooking chicken. So it’s a big aid to me.
I think where a lot of the mis-information in regards to supplements comes in from is the belief that you cannot get fit without them. But that is not true, you can. Now I will say they can add to your existing program, and they are just for that, to be used as a “supplement” to your already healthy eating habits, not as a substitute, or quick fix. You have to eat healthy, whole foods in order to lose weight or develop muscle and supplements that go along with it can be a great aid in that regard. So don’t be afraid of using supplements but also don’t view them as the key either.
Protein, We’ve all heard we have to have it right? But why? And how much? Well the truth is we’ve placed a little bit too much emphasis on protein and neglected some other important elements. Don’t get me wrong. We need protein. Our muscles use Amino Acids (the building blocks of our muscles) which we get from proteins. And failing to get these Amino Acids can result in our muscles starving, so we do need protein. But there has been talk that protein is all we need, and that is simply not true.
While protein is important so are complex carbs from whole food sources such as brown rice, potatoes, whole grain oats, quinoa and couscous. Especially on days when we are working out and exercising, carbohydrates can offer an excellent source of fuel for our bodies.
I typically take in about 50% carbs, 30% protein, and 20% percent fat (try to get this from good fat sources like omega 3’s, olive oil, and nuts/seeds. The reason for this is because you don’t want your body to be void of glycogen stores, which comes from complex carbs. Complex carbs as the type listed above, should be used as opposed to sugary white carbs, because they are slow releasing and will provide you with the energy you need throughout the day. So don’t buy into the no carb hype, just choose the correct carbs.
So you want to gain muscle and aren’t sure where to start with your rep range. It seems to be a well started rumor that in order to build massive muscle you should lift heavy with low reps, and to tone lift light weight with high reps. Well it’s a myth. There is no proven research to show that there is any difference between the two, at least for when starting out.
To be most effective you want to use microcycles and macrocycles. This is where for a period of 4 weeks (a macrocycle) you change each week (microcycle) up. Ideally start with high reps the first week, then each week for the next four weeks drop the reps and increase the weight, and at the end of the four weeks start over.
This causes muscle confusion, which allows your muscles to grow more because their is muscle confusion and they are forced to change up their routine.
When you think of what it takes to be successful with your fitness goal, what come to mind? Is it being able to lift a certain amount of weight? Is it being in the gym for two hours a day? Is it living off of kale and protein?
While none of these things are bad (except maybe the 2 hours in the gym which is unnecessary but that’s another topic). Have you started your fitness journey before? Were you depressed with the mediocre results? It can happen, and then you are left wondering why does it work for others but not for me, and maybe the whole fitness thing is just a big hype.
The first thing to remember when starting is that Rome was not build in a day. I know that we are inundated with commercials about products that will allow us to look like The Rock in 30 days or less. Or drop 25 pounds in 2 weeks. But that stuff does not happen.
So what is the key to success? Are you ready? Consistency. Now I know, that’s not a very sexy word, but consistency is what brings about actual change. I know people who will give the exercise and diet thing a go for about two weeks and then stop. But just like a romantic fling, if there is no commitment, it doesn’t last.
Consistency is what will bring change. You may not see any change after eating right and exercising for a couple weeks, but keep at it. Over months and ultimately years you will see drastic improvement.
People often tell me they don’t want to wait so long for their to be results, but in all honesty what is the alternative? A year will pass regardless of what you do, and you can choose to be in the same place a year from now, or you can choose to be way farther ahead in year.
So if you follow only one rule with fitness, stay consistent. You’ve got this.
When it comes to building muscle, does diet play a role? Absolutely. For the first couple years I worked out I failed to change my diet, and while I saw some definition I didn’t really start bulking up until I learned how to tweak my diet.
So much of gaining or losing weight is a numbers game with calories. Your body burns a certain amount of calories a day, so in order to lose weight you need to be in a calorie deficit, where you consume less calories than you burn.
On the other hand it’s no different when you are building muscle, you need to eat more than you are burning in a day. If your body is not getting enough calories, you can lift weights all day and you will grow your muscles, because there is simply nothing there for your muscles to build with, no building blocks if you will.
Your body needs whole grain foods, and protein to help restore the torn muscle fibers that come from a good hard workout.
You may be wondering what to look for in a gym or if you should go to a gym, after all they are scary right? Wrong. Gyms can be your one place to escape and focus on you without the distractions of the world, the phone, or other things that pull our attention away from ourselves.
Gyms are often mistaken as places where people will grunt, mean mug you, and throw weights around. While I’m not saying you will never see these things, they are not the norm.
So what should determine your gym choice? First and foremost, location. If you are going to go on your way to or from work, then it needs to be conveniently located and on your route. If you are going from the house then it needs to be close to your house.
Second things to consider is whether or not you like the atmosphere. Like I said earlier, your gym should feel like a retreat for you, you need to feel comfortable and at home there (now this may not happen on your first visit). So find one you like being in.
Third if you have kids, then kids care may be a must for you. I have to small children so I need a gym that has a daycare. It’s a must for me, and most gyms offer that now.
So go out there and get a gym membership and start using it. We will talk more in upcoming blogs about how to get in the habit of going to a gym.
If you’ve started your gym venture and need some more in depth guidance for what to do while you are there you can find more information here.
Food is not just something we down to feel good, at least it should be. Food is a resource that we can use to mold and shape not just our bodies, but the way we feel overall, our energy levels, and our health from the inside out. It is fuel.
If you’ve got a high performance race car, you aren’t just going to be able to put regular fuel in it and expect it to run at peak performance. Our bodies are no different. Eating fast food, starchy white flours, sugary cereals and snacks, and drinking sweet tea and soda is setting our bodies up for failure, and no amount of working out will outdo a horrible diet.
Food should be our primary source of health, our primary source of gains in the gym. When our body has the proper food it can grow and far outdo what it can otherwise. You don’t need supplements, you don’t need steroids to get muscles and get lean and get in shape. You need a whole new approach to food.
It’s easy to get caught up in the diet mentality, but all that does is starve our bodies of certain things and doesn’t transform the way we think about food, prepare food, or approach our food. Eating clean and healthy should become a way of life, not a quick fix.
So just how important is diet to building muscle? You may have heard various things surrounding this topic, but the truth is it’s the key to your success with building muscle. Lifting weights is less than half the battle, in fact I’d say it’s about 25% of the battle. If not less.
When you go and workout in the gym, you are there for an hour or so a day. Then you come home shower and don’t have to think about it anymore.
With food, you never really can let your guard down. It’s more of a way of life. We eat a lot and every one of those meals should have some thought put into it. It takes a lot more effort than our gym trip, so be prepare to work for a healthy diet.
The thing is with a healthy diet, changing what you eat is going to not just change the way you look, but the way you feel, and the overall state of health of your body. We want to be strong, but we also want to be healthy on the inside, and we want to develop lean muscle.
When you begin to change your diet, sometimes it’s hard to cut out all the bad stuff, but each week focus on cutting out one bad thing and replacing it with something healthy in its place. By the end of a few months you will be well on your way to eating a good and balanced diets.
We talk a lot about what to do and how to train your body for growth, but what are some mistakes when building muscle?
First, there is such a thing as over-working your muscles. While this doesn’t mean, ‘hey I’m sore from my workout yesterday so I better rest today’. It does mean you want to space out your muscle groups with at least 72 hours between. So if I do chest on Monday, I want to wait till Thurs before I work it out again.
Second, slow the crap down. I talk a lot about this in my videos. But all to often there are people powering through their sets, abandoning form and slow controlled reps, just to hit a number regardless of the fact they are throwing their whole body into the movement. Five very slow and controlled reps with proper form, are going to do far more for you than 15 that you rush through.
Third, don’t overwork. While you need to get in your full workout, there is no reason to spend an hour and a half in the gym or more. Rest up to a minute in between sets, but get in there and kick butt. Work hard, get out of breath. Sweat. That’s what you are there to do, not look pretty.