Want to Gain Muscle (Don’t Skip This)

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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 Food is Failing Your Muscle Gains

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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 Reason to Ditch the Scale

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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.

Do You Really Need Protein?

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Protein. We hear all about it. We consume it on a daily basis from one source or another. But what does it do, and do we really need it? If you follow my podcast you know how much I talk about nutrition being everything when it comes to hitting your fitness goals. But protein is often misunderstood.

I’ve known some people who wanted to gain muscle and so just started taking whey protein throughout the day. Whey is important, but that act alone is not going to just start making you jacked.

When you workout and exert a lot of muscle energy your muscles are literally starving and, because they’ve expended all their energy. They need amino acids (the building blocks of protein) in order to repair themselves. You see when muscles are worked out they literally tear. Then new muscle fibers come and grow over those tears like a scab on our skin. After these new muscle fibers patch up the tears that results in our muscle being stronger and denser.

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Protein comes into play in patching up those tears, because our muscles need them to heal, otherwise if you are depleted of amino acids, the body will actually pull them from other muscles if it can (which is counter-productive to growing muscle).

So the cure? Try to down a scoop of protein within 30 minutes after working out, this gives your muscles their much needed boost of healing. My video talked about the importance of that this week.

In addition whey protein when mixed in low-fat milk can aid in pushing you up to your calorie range for the day. It’s a quick way to get some extra calories. But as with anything, you need a well balanced nutrition plan and don’t think that the whey protein will be enough to get you jacked. But it’s a very useful tool.

When Is Fat Good?

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When it comes to fats, you want to steer clear of most of them as they provide little value and assist in clogging up your arteries. But there are some great fats your body can put to good use. Fat while usually looked at as a negative thing, actually does provide some benefits.

After all we need a healthy layer of fat around our organs to protect them, and it plays an important role in our bodies. In addition to protecting our organs, it helps the body absorb vitamins. It also helps us to regulate our body temperature. I talk all the time about the importance of nutrition on my website and even have courses dealing specifically with that.

Now before you reach for that bag of potato chips, there are healthy fats you should be incorporating but they are not what we typically think of.

Almond, cashews, and most other tree nuts are a great source of healthy fat that also pack a punch of protein. Olive oil and fish also give us a dosage of healthy fats that our body puts to good use.

So don’t fear healthy fat, still keep it in moderation, but your body needs those healthy sources.

Increasing Your Personal Bests

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Maybe you’ve been there, standing at the weight rack, trying to decide how much weight to add to the bar, you want to be able to say you hit a certain number, but you are worried you won’t be able to get it up. So you settle with putting on the same amount of weight you did last week, and the week before. How do you start breaking records, and increasing your lifts?

The first thing to get on your way to hitting new personal bests is changing up your routine. If you are lifting the same amount of weight and performing the same amount of reps every day week after week, how are your muscles going to grow? Eventually they are going to stifle. At Bones to Bulk, I talk so much about changing up your gym routine week to week.

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So for starters shake it up each week. More reps, less weight, more weight less reps. The first step is to keep your muscles guessing.

Second, make sure your form is on point. The more on point your form is the more you are going to work out that particular muscle, and the stronger it’s going to get.

Third, slow down your reps. The slower you perform the reps, the more strain being placed on your muscle, and so the more muscle you build.

The as thing is go for it. Now don’t do something dump and try to push way more weight than you know you can do, but while maintaining the proper form and having a spotter, push yourself past your normal limits. You have to push past that comfort level in order to hit new heights. So go for it! You’ve got this.

Are You Working Out Hard Enough?

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In Monday’s blog we talked about how it’s important to not get complacent in the gym and push ourselves harder, but how exactly do we do that? I mean it sounds good in theory but in reality how do we push harder? What does that really look like?

The first step is getting outside of your comfort zone. We live for getting into routines and being comfortable, or at least as comfortable as we can get. But comfort is not only the enemy of progress. In this week’s episode of the podcast I talk more about this.

If you look back at some of your best memories they probably are times when you were outside your comfort zone, when you did things that were scary but worthwhile and you look back glad that you went through the difficult for the good.

 

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It’s the same way with your workouts. So for starters pick something that scares you in the gym. Maybe it’s moving from machines to free weights, maybe it’s implementing cardio into your workouts, maybe it’s going for a new personal record on a lift. Regardless, pick something hard that is going to stretch you.

If it’s not hard pick something else. Second go hard. You should be sweating when you leave the gym. Your workout should have you out of breath on multiple occasions while you are in the middle of it. If not do more reps, lift more weights, increase the speed on the treadmill, or the difficulty on whatever cardio machine you are on. That’s how you hit your fitness goals and gain lean muscle like we talk about at Bones to Bulk.