It seems like almost every time we hear a fitness professional speak about exercise and diet it is on the topic of “weight loss” or “fat loss” of some kind. Granted, I would agree that most of us out there could stand to lose a few. However, if you’re at all like me packing on those pounds of muscle can be challenging at best and down right next to impossible at worst. Well, this post is here to help answer some questions with 4 great tips to start incorporating into your routine now.
1) EAT MORE FOOD!
I am blow away by the amount of guys and girls (girls rarely ask to “bulk up” but I have had a few) who say they’re too skinny and want to put on muscle, then look at me like I’m crazy when I tell them they need to be eating 3 times the amount of food as they currently do. The fact is that most of us can’t have it both ways; you can’t train like an animal and then eat like a bird. At least don’t expect to build muscle if you do. Bottom line: Examine your caloric intake. If you’re an average size male (between 160-190lbs) then you need to be eating around 3,000 calories a day in order to be anabolic (building). However, not all calories are created equal so this doesn’t mean go load up on bunt cakes and fro-yo. Organic meats, Veggies, nuts & seeds, beans, fruits etc… That’s how you eat to put on the muscle without storing a bunch of body fat in the process.
2) TRAIN YOUR LEGS!
I see a lot of disproportionate training routines out there. Guys especially love to work the “glam group” (chest and arms) but nearly faint trying to squeeze out even 10 squats with nothing but their own body weight as resistance. Shame. Yeah, its exuasting training legs, I get it. But that’s the very reason why it is so crucial to any fitness routine, especially muscle-building. The fact is that your hips have the potential to unlock massive hormonal responses when trained intensely. Nothing wakes up your central nervous system like deadlifting a couple hundred pounds, and that’s what triggers your body to release the hormones that are responsible for hypertrophy (building mass). Squat, lunge or deadlift every week with heavy weights. Trust me.
3) CUT DOWN ON CARDIO
Despite what you may have heard you cannot build muscle and lose fat at the time. At least not in any significant amounts. So pick a direction and go there. In this case its the direction of building muscle. After you’ve reached your 5, 10 or 20 pound goal then bring back the cardio and “trim up” a little. This is called periodization. For example; 8 weeks of heavy weight training and increased caloric intake to pack on as much muscle as possible, followed by 4 weeks of lighter weight training, increased cardio and decreased caloric intake to trim off the body fat you most likely gained during your building phase.
Muscles grow at rest. Period. So if you’re exercising too much (more than 4-5 days per week) most likely you’re body is exerting too many calories via exercise that could be going toward building up your sore muscles at rest. Once you reach your goal then sure increase the number of days you train, but for the purpose building muscle choose quality over quantity. For example: Train with intensity 3 times per week with heavy weights for no more than an hour.