Want to Gain Muscle (Don’t Skip This)

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Photo by Jesper Aggergaard on Unsplash

If you want to gain muscle you get a gym membership right? You then proceed to go in there like you own the place, slam some weights around and boom muscles sprout on your arms that would put Popeye to shame.

Not so much. First off don’t ever walk in like you own the place. Have confidence but don’t think you are the shit, because there is always someone you can learn from and always someone that will out-perform you. Be hungry but humble.

Second if just going in and lifting some weights made you gain lean muscle mass then there would be a whole lot more people running around looking like Arnold’s mini me’s.

In truth there is so much more that goes into building muscle. From time under tension, to making sure you are lifting properly, to your food intake.

Food intake is without doubt the biggest aid in your journey. Why do I say this? Because I used to be that guy. I went to the gym, thought I knew everything lifted, and then was so confused when I didn’t gain muscle. Now I’m not saying it’s super hard for everyone. But for me, a guy who struggled to keep weight on and had a metabolism that was ridiculously fast? I fell flat.

It was a humbling experience and I’m glad it happened. Because it made me re-evaluate everything. That’s when I finally dug down and realized that what I put in my mouth mattered so much more than the gym.

Now don’t get me wrong, the gym is important too. But you have to be aware of what you are eating. The episode I posted above talks about how you should be looking at food.

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Why Are You Not Losing Body Fat?

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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.

Want to Get Buff? (Are You Doing This)

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Photo by Jennifer Kim on Unsplash

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.

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 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 Keep Building Muscle

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Photo by Alora Griffiths on Unsplash

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.