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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How to Eat For Muscle Gains

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When it comes to our food why do we usually eat? Because we are hungry? Or sometimes because it just looks dang good and even though we are full, we still want it? Why should we eat though? Well there are several reasons. The first is for health. I want to be healthy. Healthy now and healthy into my old age. And also I want to gain lean muscle mass. I am always striving to build more muscle.

Your reasons may look slightly different, but chances are if you are reading this, then some of those ring true. Now let’s face it, I like food too, I don’t think kale belongs in smoothies, and lima beans are at the bottom of the list for me, but there are also a lot of healthy things I love. I talk a lot about those things in my Facebook group.

I love chicken, I really do, I never was much of a beef guy, so that transition was easy. What was hard? Ice cream. I used to lay out a half gallon of ice cream in one sitting, no joke.

It took me some time to get over that one, but it didn’t come down to just more self discipline, it came down to me getting to the heart of the matter. I knew I didn’t want to look or feel like I used to, and so I knew it was either the ice cream, or something new. I chose something new.

And the crazy part? I don’t miss it. Okay sure, once on a rare occasion I do get an ice cream craving, but compared to when I first started leaving it behind, it’s like night and day.

So if you are struggling with giving up unhealthy options, pick one thing, focus on it, and then once you have that conquered move on to something else. For more on focusing on where your calories are coming from, check out this week’s episode of the podcast.

And also? Hang on to your reasoning. Write yourself a note, reminding you of the reasons and stick to it. If your reason is to build muscle, awesome! If it’s something else, that’s fine too. But find your why.

Why Are You Not Losing Body Fat?

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Photo by Sander Dalhuisen on Unsplash

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.

Have You Tried Split Body Workouts

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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.

 

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.