Why You Should Track Your Calories

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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.

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How to Gain Muscle Mass Without Weights

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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.

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.

3 Reasons Diets Suck

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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.

How to Keep Building Muscle

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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:

  1. Do 3 new workouts every gym session.
  2. Increase your amount of sets to five on every exercise.
  3. 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.

Why Your New Year’s Fitness Goal Needs Work

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Photo by Tyler Nix on Unsplash

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?

Awesome.

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).

If you need some help kick starting your year. Check out our free online course to start gaining muscle.

So take it serious, plan it out, and this year don’t let another year go by without any true change. You’ve got this.