One thing that I am constantly talking about on the Bones to Bulk podcast is how you have to be eating right if you want to gain lean muscle. Food is often the number one thing that is over-looked with any fitness goal.
Typically people think “I need to start lifting weights.” Well yes, you do, but that’s only a piece of the puzzle.
You have to be eating enough for your body to actually produce muscle mass. You can lift weights in the gym all day, but if your body doesn’t have an excess of calories to build those muscles, not much will ever change. I touch on this in the starters guide to getting buff.
And it’s not just about eating enough, it’s about eating the right types of foods. You can eat enough calories by just eating donuts and pizza, but that’s not going to pack on lean muscle mass. It’s only going to put on the wrong kind of weight.
You’ve got to focus on eating the right amount of the right type of food.
And what is the right type of food in order to gain muscle and go from skinny to buff?
Lean meats, complex and whole grain carbohydrates, fresh veggies and fruit and lots of water. So if you are struggling with packing on the muscle take a closer look at what you are eating and how much.
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.
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.
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.
Maybe you’ve heard of split body workouts. Maybe you’ve tried them or maybe this is new territory for you. Regardless of what you know or don’t know, split body workouts are the way to go.
Typically gym workouts are split between different muscle groups. While this is good, is it enough? Yes, our muscles do need recovery time in between vigorous workouts, but is it possible to under-work your muscles and fail at your muscle gains.
Typically when we break our workouts up among different muscle groups, we are only hitting each muscle group once a week. Going 7 days in between working out muscle groups is not a good idea as I discussed in the most recent episode of the Bones to Bulk podcast.
This is where split body workouts come in. Split body workouts incorporate working out several muscle groups into one day. The advantage of this is that you are continually working out your muscles without over-taxing them. The reason for this is while you are pushing yourself hard, you are not working out one specific muscle group for a long length of time.
Instead you are only performing usually two exercises that target a specific muscle group, which isn’t enough to worry about over-taxing your muscles. So if you have been on the fence about trying split body, or maybe just want to increase your muscle gain, give split body workouts a try. To find out more check out our free starters guide to getting buff.
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.
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.
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.
1. 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.
2.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.
3. 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.