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.

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Why Food is Failing Your Muscle Gains

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Photo by GMB Monkey on Unsplash

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.

3 Ways to Stay Healthy During the Holidays

 

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Photo by Sheelah Brennan on Unsplash

When it comes to the holidays do you worry about all the unhealthy foods that will be at the parties? The casseroles, the dessert table, the list goes on. But there are some ways you can help avoid binging all the crap food this holiday and cruising through without sabotaging your fitness goals.

  1.  Eat before. If you know you are going to a party, don’t avoid eating before hand. You don’t have to eat a full blown meal, but have a good sized snack. Try a half cup of almonds, and a cup of Greek yogurt. Both are protein packed and will fill you up. This one thing will help you overcome loading up your plate with all the things you shouldn’t eat. The reason is because first it does something mentally. You know going in that you just ate a healthy snack so you are more in the mindset of eating healthy, second you will be more full so your eyes won’t be doing the loading up on the plate.
  2. Drink lots of water. Make it your priority to grab a water as soon as you get there. Whether it’s a bottle of water you carry around or a solo cup filled with water. This will do two things. It will keep you from grabbing soda or some sugar-laden tea and it will also keep you slightly fuller.
  3. Pick one. While I do not propose that you make a habit of eating desserts. Occasionally it’s fine to have one piece as long as you know it’s not going to set you completely off course and cause a downward spiral. But pick out a favorite ahead of time. When you first see the dessert table choose one thing you really like and stick to eating only that one thing. Keeping that in mind that you will only eat one helps you avoid making a whole plate of desserts.

You can do this, you can get through the holidays, still enjoy going to parties and get-togethers and stay on track with your fitness goals.

Can’t Get Your Muscles to Grow?

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Photo by Victor Freitas on Unsplash

Have you been working out but just can’t seem to make those muscles grow the way you want them to? Maybe you are seeing some slight definition but the growth just isn’t there. You are considering throwing in the towel and quitting. Maybe you’re just destined to be skinny and not buff.

Well fear not. It’s not just you, it just may take some more serious changes.

First off we have this concept when it comes to lifting weights that we have to lift the heaviest amount of weight possible in order to gain muscles. So we pile on the plates, load up the bar, and find ourselves pumping out a couple reps. And they are either half-assed reps at that, or our form is completely off.

If you want to build muscles it’s not about doing the traditional things.

The key to lifting is making sure your muscles are working hard. That they are under a lot of tension for a good amount of time. If you perform bench presses with 135 pounds and go to failure with 4 sets. You are doing way more for your muscle growth than if you get 1 rep of 225 up. Sure you had to exert some extra strength to get that 225 up but it doesn’t have any long lasting effect or a constant strain on those muscles. So get out of the mindset that you have to lift as heavy as possible.

Use less weights, but lift longer with that weight, so more sets, more reps, and slow down. Make sure your form is on point and that you are not speeding through the reps.

Another key element is making sure your rest times don’t outweigh your lift time (pun intended). It’s so easy to get lost on our phones or talking to someone on our rest. But I challenge you to start setting your timer on your phone or on your watch and limiting yourself to rests that are 45 seconds or less. You’ll find this to be much more challenging. Remember it’s that time under tension that really matters here.

The next thing you’ve got to make sure you are not neglecting is your nutrition intake. I hate when I hear people tell me they are bulking, or they are cutting. What this translates to me is, “I don’t want to eat right all the time.” That’s literally what it is. “I’m bulking” is a translation of: “Please excuse the fact that I’m downing a ton of unhealthy food every day.”

You want to grow your muscles? You have to feed them properly. You have to give them what they need, and loading up on empty calories with no nutritional value is not the thing you need to be doing, because that’s not aiding the growth of muscle.

Focus on eating right every day, and focus on eating the right amount. Enough can’t be said about this.

Finding that right amount can take work. It’s not easy finding the magical number that you need in order to get the most out of your muscle gains. Start out using a calorie tracker as a baseline. Plug in your information and go from there. You may need to adjust it and that’s okay, that’s part of it. If you are lifting hard, eating right and still not gaining, then increase your calorie intake by a couple hundred calories.

Fitness isn’t a one size fits all for everyone so it takes some time to really discover what works best for you. Don’t be afraid of this.

Something else that keeps us from gaining muscle in the gym is not working hard. If you’ve been going to the gym for some time you may be in a routine. Maybe you do the same exercises every day. Maybe you do 5×5’s every day. Maybe you do drop sets every day. If you truly want to grow muscles and break out of your skinny body, you’ve got to do what is uncomfortable. That means you do the exercises that you really hate, and change things up so that you are having to work really hard. So hard that you hate going to the gym. I There are many days when it’s not fun, when it’s not enjoyable or motivating or any other bull crap pie in the sky feeling that you think you should have every day.

I get it the gym is my 2nd home is it feels like, and I want to enjoy it. I want to have fun there, but I know that if there isn’t a little bit sense of dread for the workout that I’m about to do then I’m not working out hard enough.

That may sound harsh but in truth how much you hate your workout is a good measurement for if you are working out hard enough.

Gaining muscle takes work, that’s what makes it valuable. Because of the effort that has to be put into it. So don’t give up when it’s hard, because it’s going to be hard most of the time. You are responsible for you.

So don’t sell yourself short. Work hard. You’ve got this.

Why You’re Eating Wrong

wordswag_1536861005165What if I told you that the key to everything you want with your fitness level has to do with food.  Would you believe me?  Sure the gym is important.  Working out is important, but it’s a very small piece of the puzzle.

With that being said, there is so much information both good and bad out there about nutrition.

Starting Monday I am launching an exclusive video series talking about the do’s and don’t of food.  All you have to do is be a part of my Facebook group to watch them.

Join here: Bones to Bulk Facebook Group

How to Feel Fit

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“man lifting barbell” by Alora Griffiths on Unsplash

Have you ever felt that you are not fit? Maybe you are working out hard, lifting weights, putting on muscle and trying to do the right things we just don’t feel fit. But is it that we are not fit or that we are mentally stuck in what we think feeling fit looks like?

It can be easy to get a picture of what we think “fit” looks like. We think that being in shape looks like someone we look up to, or our muscles aren’t what they should be and we end up getting frustrated or depressed about it.

As I said in today’s podcast, we are typically the worst judges of ourselves, we are far harder on ourselves than we should be. Now I’m not saying you shouldn’t push yourself hard, but rather than constantly looking at where you are not, look at where you are. Look at where you’ve come from. Look at how much more you are lifting than what you used to do.

You should have a clear goal of where you want to be, but remember that there is no elusive peak of fitness, there is always a way to become better, to become stronger, so don’t feel like you just are not there, you will always need to work to be better, and that’s okay.

3 Reason to Ditch the Scale

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Photo by i yunmai on Unsplash

Have you ever found yourself weighing in every day and getting frustrated at not seeing the changes you want? When you are on a fitness journey and are trying to gain muscle mass, it can be extremely frustrating to not see the numbers you want to on scale and correlating it with failure at not gaining muscle mass. It can almost become an addiction.

First let me say that I am a big proponent in weighing in from time to time when you are starting out. You don’t want to workout for six months and never step on a scale and realize you have not been on track for that length of time.

So I do recommend a once a month scale check-in just to see where you are at. But with that being said, it should not dictate your fitness journey. Here are 3 reasons to ditch the all controlling scale.

  1. It can dictate your actions too much. If you are weighing in once a week or more, you may change up your routine too soon. It takes time, Rome and your muscular body were not built in a day, so don’t fall into the trap of weighing in all the time.
  2. Is that ideal weight really ideal? Often we get stuck in our heads a certain number that we want to be and we are not happy until we do. But the goal is to be happy with our bodies and how we feel. One time I was convinced I should be a certain weight, and I made it to that weight and felt sick and bloated all the time. I realized it wasn’t my ideal weight and adjusted accordingly.
  3. Losing sight of the goal. I always talk about finding your why when it comes to your fitness goals. By focusing solely on the number on the scale we can lose sight of why we started and where we want to be.

So while yes you should weigh in once a month just to get an idea of if you are on the right path, the scale should be simply an aid in your journey not a dictator.