Build muscle and lose fat by training large muscle groups first so that you achieve a maximal anabolic response. Performing large muscle mass exercises for multiple sets with heavy loads before isolation and structural balance exercises will allow you to achieve the greatest anabolic response to training.
A new study in the Asian Journal of Applied Physiology compared strength, mass, and power results from an 11-week training program and correlated the findings with the increase in testosterone, growth hormone, and cortisol. Participants were untrained men and they performed three training sessions a week. During two of the weekly sessions, they performed a large volume of heavy leg exercises with short rest periods followed by biceps curls on one arm (leg/arm). During the other weekly session (arm only), they did no leg exercises and only performed biceps curls on the untrained arm from the leg/arm day. The idea was to compare the difference in size and strength gains between the arms and associate the results with the hormone response to each protocol.
Researchers think it is the much higher anabolic response of growth hormone and testosterone that resulted in the superior gains in the arm trained on the leg/arm day. Not only does a greater anabolic response increase hypertrophy in the trained muscles, it enhances neural adaptations for greater strength.
There are two key take aways from this study: First, the muscles must be trained in order for the androgen receptors to be responsive to circulating anabolic hormones. This explains why passive tissue does not get bigger when blood is being circulated through the body with higher hormones. A classic example is in studies that have not found upper body training to impact lower body musculature.
Let’s get right to it…
If you want to get the most bang for your buck and develop your chest as quickly as possible, then forget about flye movements such as the pec-deck, dumbbell flyes or cable crossovers. Instead, place all of your focus on the big basic pressing exercises such as barbell presses, dumbbell presses and wide-grip dips.
If you want to include a few flye movements here and there at the end of your chest workout then that’s fine, but your primary focus should be on consistently increasing the poundage on all of your compound pressing exercises.
Use bent-legged barbell deadlifts as your primary back-developing exercise. There is simply no other lift out there that will pack more raw muscle size and strength onto your back and your entire body than the basic barbell deadlift.
It is extremely challenging and uncomfortable to perform, but the rewards are well worth it. It will work you from finger to neck to toe, and if you haven’t been deadlifting up to this point, be prepared for some serious gains once you start.
Laterals raises are fine to include to isolate the medial head of the shoulder, but the meat and potatoes of any effective shoulder training routine is based on a compound overhead press.
Either perform a standing or seated military press with a barbell, or an overhead press using dumbbells. This should be the first exercise in your shoulder routine, with side laterals being performed at the end.
The front and rear heads of the shoulder receive plenty of stimulation during your chest and back exercises and therefore do not need to be specifically isolated.
Cut down on your training volume and understand that the majority of your bicep growth is actually a product of hard and intense back training. Heavy chin-ups, pulldowns and rows all provide plenty of stimulation for the biceps, and direct curling movements are far less important than most people think.
Including a few sets of direct bicep work is still recommended, but going too far overboard can easily over train them and will actually slow down your bicep growth rather than speed it up.
The same thing goes for triceps as well. Any time you perform a compound chest pressing exercise or an overhead shoulder press, your triceps will be heavily stimulated. Because of this, performing direct tricep isolation exercises should be done so cautiously and with only a small number of sets to prevent over-working them.
Since spot reduction is impossible and you cannot target fat loss from specific areas of the body, stop placing so much emphasis on the idea of achieving “6-pack abs” through the use of direct abdominal exercises.
Attaining defined and sculpted abs is mostly a product of your bottom line body fat percentage, and has very little to do with specific training techniques. Include a few sets of direct ab work for the sake of strengthening your core and building up the abdominal muscles themselves, but performing endless sets of situps and crunches is nothing more than a waste of time.
If you aren’t performing a basic barbell squat as the cornerstone of your leg training routine, you’re missing out big time!
Squats are by far the most effective lower body exercise in existence, and by a good margin. Not only do squats provide serious stimulation for the muscles of the legs, but because they force the body to secrete greater amounts of powerful anabolic hormones (such as testosterone and growth hormone) they will increase your upper body size as well.
Leg curls should be included in your hamstring training routine, but the real secret to a massive set of “leg biceps” is the stiff-legged deadlift.
You can perform using a barbell or dumbbells, and not only will they pack size onto your hamstrings faster than any other lift out there, but they will strengthen your lower back and add size to your upper back as well.
If you really want those stubborn calves to respond, then stop worrying so much about “feeling the burn”, and instead focus on truly training your calves to the point of muscular failure.
Rather than slapping on an arbitrary amount of weight and pumping out 20-30 reps until it starts to hurt, load up as much weight as you can possibly handle for 8-12 high quality reps. Execute each rep in a slow and deliberate manner, squeezing at the top and using a full range of motion until you cannot perform another rep despite your best efforts to do so.
Muscular development (whether for toning, size or strength) occurs by breaking down microscopic fibres within muscles – followed by building them up via rest and proper nutrition. When designing a strength-training routine, allow several days for each muscle group to recover from its last workout before exercising that particular muscle group again – otherwise you not only hinder your muscular development, but also risk attaining an over-training injury. Experts agree that ‘split’ weight-training routines are beneficial, whereby different muscle groups are isolated on certain days, then permitted to rest.
There’s no single, perfect strength-training routine that works for everybody, however Practical Fitness Tips believes that three strength-training workouts per week is optimal for all most muscular development needs. Nevertheless, for those wishing to weight-train:
1) once per week – target each muscle group (legs, back, chest, shoulders, arms and ‘core’ – or abdominals, obliques and lower back) during each weekly full-body workout.
2) twice per week – consider either two full body workouts (described above in Workout 1); OR a ‘push-pull’ routine, where you focus solely on ‘pushing exercises’ on one day (typically quadriceps, chest, shoulders and triceps), and solely on ‘pulling exercises’ on the other day (typically hamstrings, back, biceps and core).
3) three times per week – consider repeating the above-mentioned ‘push-pull’ workout (Workout 2) three times per week; OR divide your body into 1) chest & back, 2) shoulders & arms, and 3) legs & core.
4) four times per week – consider dividing your body into 1) chest & triceps, 2) back & biceps, 3) shoulders, 4) legs & core.
5) five+ times per week – not recommended due to insufficient recovery time.
Next, if wishing to
1) build muscle size and strength – revolve your routine around the basic ‘compound exercises’ such as bench-press and dips (chest/triceps), chin-ups (back/biceps), shoulder-press (shoulders/triceps), squats (quadriceps), and dead-lifts (hamstrings).
2) tone your muscles – focus on ‘toning exercises’ such as cable-crossovers or pec-dec (chest), seated rows (back), dumbbell raises (shoulders), leg-extensions (quadriceps), leg-curls (hamstrings), bicep curls (biceps), and tricep cable extensions (triceps).
Whatever your routine, keep strength-training workouts to about one hour.
BUILDING & TONING MUSCLE TIP:
While strength-training machines are great for beginners (as they help guide through the correct range of an exercise motion), free-weights (dumbbells & barbells) are more effective. Free-weights use additional ‘stabiliser muscles’ to help support your body during a lift (which aren’t used when doing an equivalent lift on machines), and therefore result in stronger muscle contractions. Additionally, free-weights help improve balance, posture, coordination and provide for a much more natural movement.
BUILDING & TONING MUSCLE TIP:
The amount of weight you lift should be dependent on your desired muscular development goal.
If seeking to…
1) build muscle size and strength – heavy weights which you can properly lift approximately 6 to 10 times is most effective, resting at least 1 minute between each exercise set.
2) tone your muscles – lighter weights which you can properly lift approximately 12 to 20 times is most effective, resting less than 1 minute between each exercise set.
Notwithstanding the above, the body needs variety! Mix things up to prevent plateaus: light weights, heavy heights, super-sets, drop-set’s, 21’s, pyramid sets, stability balls, bosu balls, resistance bands, kettle-bells, etc. Need to learn a few new tricks? Hire a Personal Fitness Trainer for a few sessions!
BUILDING & TONING MUSCLE TIP:
Your last repetition should be the last repetition you can complete safely under control – without using gravity or momentum – unless you are an experienced weight-lifter!
Further to Tip regardless of the weight you use, the last repetition should generally be the last repetition you can complete safely and smoothly with proper form – especially when using very heavy weights. If your goal is to do 10 repetitions and you can’t do them properly, go lighter next time!
The exception to this rule is to undertake ‘cheat repetitions’ – which should be reserved for experienced weight-lifters only. A cheat repetition is done towards the end of a workout set (as the lifter approaches muscle failure), and can involve carefully using either momentum, the help of a Personal Fitness Trainer or workout partner, or even the self-assistance of your opposite arm or leg – in an effort to assist in the upward (‘positive’) movement of a weight (which would otherwise have been impossible to lift normally). Thereafter, you should use your remaining strength to resist gravity and lower the weight slowly and under control during the downward (‘negative’) part of the repetition. Remember, the objective is to ‘cheat’ in order to train your muscles a bit harder, not to make your workout easier!
BUILDING & TONING MUSCLE TIP:
Drink coffee before your weight-training session.
Coffee contains caffeine, which, if drank about one hour before your weight-training session, will give you more adrenaline and energy to train more intensely.
Listen to music while exercising.
Listening to music while exercising motivates people to train both longer and harder!
After exercising, eat a well-balanced, nutritious meal within one hour to promote recovery.
After exercise, there is an important one-hour ‘window of opportunity’ where the body should be fed a well-balanced, nutritious meal. This helps promote recovery, build stronger muscles, reduce fatigue and boost metabolism.
Select a workout partner carefully.
Exercising with a partner has pros and cons. If you decide to workout with somebody, select them wisely. A good partner will have similar goals, be committed and on time, and have a similar fitness level – so they neither pressure nor hinder your progress. Healthy competition can go a long way, however it’s good to workout alone sometimes too.
Hiring a Personal Fitness Trainer can be a great decision too, especially when starting out – yet also for ’shaking up’ your routine once in a while, and for providing timely feedback, assessments, motivation and accountability. Studies suggest those who have a Personal Fitness Trainer achieve results 80% faster than those who don’t.
1.build muscle size and strength – you want to minimise (but not eliminate) cardio to keep your cardio-respiratory system (heart & lungs) conditioned. Do cardio once per week, even if you’re trying to gain weight.
2. tone muscles – do cardio three or four times per week to reduce your level of body fat.
To ensure your body doesn’t adapt to your workout routine, make changes every two to four weeks (unless your existing routine is really working well)! Giving muscles new stimuli to adjust to promotes development. Examples of variation could include:
1. changing the type of exercises you do, or the order in which you do them.
2.varying between dumbbells, barbells, cables and machines for similar exercises.
3.varying your handgrip between wide, close, underhand, overhand, v-grip, rope-grip, etc.
4. varying the number of repetitions (and therefore weight).
5.reducing/increasing the amount of rest in-between sets.
6.altering the tempo – for example, trying super slow repetitions.
BUILDING & TONING MUSCLE TIP:
Further to Tip the below list of exercises could help. If you aren’t sure what they are, ask your gym attendant (or Personal Fitness Trainer) to show you, or view these online demonstrations.
Biceps: hammer curls, concentration curls, seated/standing dumbbell/barbell/cable/resistance-band curls, preacher curls, reverse grip barbell curls, alternating curls.
Triceps: seated dumbbell extensions, straight-bar/rope-grip cable push-downs, skull crushers, kickbacks, close-grip bench press, dips, incline/decline/normal/Bosu push-ups.
Chest: barbell/dumbbell incline/decline/flat bench press, pec-dec, flat/incline/decline/medicine-ball flies, cable-crossovers, dips, incline/decline/regular/Bosu push-ups.
Back: chin-ups, pull-ups, lateral pull-downs, one-arm kettle-bell/dumbbell-row, seated cable/tube rows, t-bar rows, back extensions, dumbbell/barbell pull-overs, dumbbell/barbell shrugs.
Shoulders: dumbbell/barbell/machine/tube shoulder press, ‘Arnold press’, reverse pec-dec, side/front/rear dumbbell/cable/tube raises, cable/tube rotator cuff.
Legs: squats, stability ball squats, dead-lifts, lunges, leg press machine, leg extension machine, leg curl machine, calf-raise machine.
Core (abs, obliques, lower back): crunches, incline crunches, hanging leg raises, hanging knee raises, cable crunches, oblique crunches, cobras (arm-assisted back extensions), super-mans, oblique crunches.
Eating like a fairy won’t build muscle. Quit worrying about your four-pack and up the calories. No matter how much or how hard you’re lifting, if you’re not eating enough, you won’t grow.
Add weight to the bar! Doing endless reps with light weights and chasing “the pump” won’t get you anywhere except exactly where you were last year. Your training should focus on the 1-7 rep range (80-100 percent of your 1-rep max). Some work in the 8-12 rep zone is okay, but anything over 12 reps is useless.
If you’re not trying to accelerate the bar through the entire concentric phase of the lift, you might as well not lift at all. Exploding on the concentric (concentric equals lifting, eccentric equals lowering) portion ensures you’re recruiting the biggest and strongest muscle fibers with the most potential for growth.
Focus on compound movements
Big movements such as squats, deadlifts, bench presses, chin-ups, rows, and military presses should be the foundation of your training. Doing endless isolation exercises like curls and tricep pushdowns won’t cut it.
Lift through a full range of motion
This means no quarter squats, half-benches, or two-inch chin-ups. Check your ego and work the movements through their full range of motion. You’re only cheating yourself of potential strength and growth.
Don’t train to failure
Train for success, not failure. Failing on a rep (starting the lift but not finishing due to fatigue or too heavy a weight) puts considerable stress on the central nervous system. This will make recovering from your workouts more difficult and can lead to over training.
Train each muscle group
If you’re not stimulating your muscles often enough, you’re not giving them a reason to adapt and grow. Try following the popular upper-lower split, with two days per week devoted to lower body and two days per week to upper body.
Always try to make progress from one workout to the next, in one form or another. Increasing the stress you place on the body tells it that it needs to adapt and put on mass. You can progress in many different ways, such as adding more weight to the bar, doing more reps with the same weight, doing more sets, or lifting the same weight faster than your previous session.
- Warm up properly. As you gain experience, your muscles, tendons and ligaments will be subjected to much more stress than when you first started. To reduce the chance of injury, increase your warm-up time proportionally. As you advance from beginner to intermediate status, three to four light and medium warm-up sets of your first weightlifting exercise of the day, after five to 10 minutes of a general warm-up on the bike or treadmill, can help adequately prepare muscles for the heavy lifting ahead.
- Save abs for last. “Training abs before your major bodypart work can result in compromises to strength and put you at increased risk for injury,” says clinical exercise physiologist and celebrity fitness adviser Jimmy . Instead, train your abs last or alone in a separate workout. To save time, you can also insert ab exercises between exercises for other bodyparts as you near the midpoint to end of your workout.
- Try the real stairs. Abandoning the gym for a real set of stairs can change your perspective, refresh your motivation and help spark new fat loss. The variety in the scenery may also help you workout longer, which means more calories burned.
- Turn on the tunes. Research suggests that listening to your favorite music while lifting will help you complete more reps as compared to not listening to any music or music you don’t enjoy. Plus, your headphones are a good deterrent to workout-killing conversation.
- Vary your rep ranges. You may think that lifting heavy all the time is the best way to build muscle, but going through phases of lighter work has its place, as well. Different weight loads and rep ranges emphasize different muscle-fiber types, helping you to achieve better overall muscle quality.
- Partner up. A reliable training partner can spot you and assist with forced reps and partials to help you gain after you’ve hit failure. Is your partner stronger than you? Good. “You might also get a mental boost from observing your buddy’s lifting ability as your competitive juices kick in,” Peña says.
- Switch the exercise order. Gym-goers are creatures of habit. A good way to keep gains coming, however, is to do your normal routine in the reverse order. After a good warm-up, start with what’s normally your last exercise — you’ll be stronger this time through because the muscle won’t be pre-fatigued, thus enabling you to handle slightly heavier weights for more reps. You’ll work the target muscle in a way it’s unaccustomed to, touching off new growth.
- Focus on compound moves. If you’re looking to build serious muscle, make sure the majority of your moves in the gym are compound in nature. Compound exercises which incorporate multiple muscle groups into a lift, such as chest, shoulders and triceps for bench presses, or the glutes, quads and hamstrings during a barbell squat allow you to move more poundage and train more efficiently than isolation moves, which essentially target only one muscle group at a time.
- Isolate in moderation. Isolation moves, which require movement at only one joint, are great for helping to shape muscle and have a place in any routine, but they should be used more sparingly than compound exercises. The best way to use them is near the end of a routine.
- Use both feet. The trend of training bodyparts while standing on one leg has, inconceivably, taken hold in gyms across the country, but if you’re looking to maximize muscle, keep both feet on the ground. Bringing additional body balance into the equation when it’s not necessary detracts from the bodypart you’re focusing on.
- Learn your set tolerance. Most mass-gaining guidelines recommend 12 to 16 sets for larger muscle groups like legs, back and chest and nine to 12 sets for smaller groups like arms, calves and shoulders. However, you have to learn how your body responds. Sticking to these guidelines may cause some to overtrain while keeping others under-stimulated in the gym.
- Disclaimer: First, I’m not a certified trainer. These are tips I’ve read elsewhere that work well for me. Second, you should always get a doctor’s approval of any new workout plan. This plan is especially intense, so if you have a heart condition or other condition that might be affected by heavy exercise, you should definitely refrain from trying it until you’ve gotten checked out by a doctor.
- And even if you have gotten checked out, or even if you don’t bother doing so, it’s still important to start out an exercise program slowly, until your body has the chance to adjust, or you will face burnout or injury.
- Don’t dive right into this program it’s designed for people who have already been working out but want to see better results, quicker, and spend less time doing it. Here’s how to do it.
- Limit your workouts to 30-40 minutes. Though the tendency of some people who really want to get a lot out of their workouts is to spend a lot of time at the gym, the truth is that after 30 or 40 minutes, the benefit isn’t as great. To go that long, you’d have to lower the intensity of the workout, and that means that you’re spending too much time working out. It’s better to work out at a higher intensity for a shorter amount of time.
- High-intensity workouts. If you’re just starting out with exercise, it’s best to take it slow. If you’re running or cycling, for example, build up your endurance for at least a month before you get into anything more intense. That means going at a rate where you can easily talk without being out of breath. However, once you have that base of endurance, step up the intensity to step up the effectiveness of the workout.
- Protein. Many people don’t pay enough attention to getting the protein their muscles need to rebuild. If you don’t, you are going to get very little out of your workout, as both cardio and strength workouts require protein for building muscles. I recommend either whey or soy protein shakes.
- Water. Be sure to hydrate throughout the day. It takes a couple of hours for your body to absorb the water, so you can’t just drink right before exercise. Make it a habit to drink water regularly throughout the day.
- Carbs. Although the low-carb craze might say otherwise, carbs are our body’s main source of fuel. If you do intense workouts, you will need carbs, or you won’t have enough energy. If you do a shake, be sure to include carbs or a banana is a great source of low fiber/high glycemic carbohydrates that you need for exercise.
- Shake before and after workout. It’s best to take a protein/carb shake just before your workout and then just after. Taking it before your workout increases the flow of amino acids to your muscles during training, giving them the building blocks they need. After the workout, the shake stimulates muscle growth. Also take a small protein/carb meal 60-90 minutes after a workout — a meal replacement bar would work fine.
- Slow lifting. Many people contract their muscles slowly and then release more quickly. But if you lift slowly in both directions, you are maximizing each move. Lift and lower to a 5-second count in each direction.
- Heavier weight. When you’re starting out, it’s best to start with lower weights so you can focus on good form. But once you’ve gotten your form down, it’s best to lift the heaviest weights you can lift while still keeping good form. Don’t sacrifice form for heavy weights — that is ineffective. But heavy weights, with good form, can give you better results in a shorter amount of time. Heavy weights are not just for those who want to bulk up — that’s a common misconception.
- One set, to failure. Instead of doing 2-3 sets, as many people do, maximize your effectiveness by doing just one, with heavy weights, until you can no longer keep the proper form. Lifting to “failure” doesn’t mean that you should lift the last few times with a wobbly or inefficient form.
- Compound exercises. Instead of isolating your muscles with exercises such as the bicep curl, you can maximize the time you spend in a workout by doing exercises that work out multiple muscle groups at once. With just a few exercises, you could get a full-body workout. Another benefit is that your muscles are working together as they do in the real world, rather than alone. Some great compound exercises include squats, deadlifts, good mornings, lunges, pushups, bench presses, military presses, rows, pullups, dips, and more.
- Balance lifting. Instead of having exercises where you’re sitting down or holding on to something or otherwise stabilized, it’s more effective to do them standing up, or on one leg, or on a Swiss exercise ball. These types of exercises force you to balance yourself while lifting, which brings your core muscles into play. This gives you a stronger overall body and allows you to lift more over time.
- Pick a cardio exercise you enjoy. It’s no fun to exercise if you hate it. And you won’t keep it up for very long. Pick something that’s fun running, walking, swimming, biking, hiking, rowing, stairmaster, etc. After the initial phase when you’re getting used to exercise, you’ll start to have a blast and look forward to it.
- Mix it up. Don’t stick to the same workout routine for too long, or your body will adjust to the stress level and you won’t be getting an effective workout. For strength training, change your routine every few weeks. For cardio, it’s best to cross train rather than, say, to run every time.
- Good form. For strength training especially, and swimming, form is very important, but it’s also important for other types of exercise. If you’re strength training, start with lighter weights so you can work on your form. It’s good to have an experienced spotter or trainer who knows good form to help you for the first month or so. Never sacrifice form for heavier weight. For swimming, you’ll need to get a coach to teach you form.
- Hills. If you run or bike or walk for cardio, you’ll want to incorporate hills (after the first month or two of doing it at an easy pace on flat ground). These will make you stronger and make your limited workout time even more effective. Take them easy at first, but once you’re used to hills, you can get a good pace going. Either use a hilly route or do repeats on one hill.
- Circuits. One mistake that people make is to do multiple sets of the same exercise without rest between the sets. This doesn’t allow your muscles to recover and it’s a waste of your workout. But instead of doing a set, resting, and then doing your second set, it’s more effective to move on to multiple exercises in a circuit, so that you don’t rest between exercises but do rest each muscle group. This will give you a good cardio workout while you do your strength training.
- workoutsIf you’re looking for some hardgainer workouts, or you’re a hardgainer wanting to know how to adjust your workouts to build more muscle, here are 10 quick tips that you can use right away to get better, faster results.
- Press, pull and squat. To build as much muscle as you can in the shortest time possible, focus on pressing (overhead press and bench press), pulling (deadlifts, chin-ups and rows) and squatting with heavy weights in the 5-8 repetition range.
- For maximum muscle growth, include some higher rep sets in your workouts. This can be done in a number of ways. You can use higher rep sets (10-15) and short (30-60 seconds) rest periods between sets. You could incorporate a “burn out” set at the end of a series of heavy sets. Even just using a light weight, slowing down your reps and trying to maintain “constant tension” on the muscles has been shown to help muscles grow.
- Don’t keep changing your routine. Most people who go to the gym keep jumping around from one routine to the next. It’s one of the main reasons most of them never make any progress at all beyond their first year of training. Muscle confusion might sound like a great idea in theory, but don’t let it distract you from what really matters. If there is a “secret” to building muscle, it’s simply to keep on getting stronger in the 5 to 15 repetition range on a few basic exercises for each major body part.
- Avoid more than two days of “maximal effort” training in a row. By maximal effort, I’m talking about anything that involves working at or close to 100% of your capacity, be it lifting weights or high-intensity interval training. It’s highly beneficial for body and mind to have a day off for every two days of hard training. Some hardgainers will need to train every other day to allow for complete mental and physical recovery.
- Include a light week for every 3-9 weeks of hard training. During your light week, you should cut back on the amount of weight you’re lifting as well as reduce your overall training volume. “I know and understand the fear that deloading or taking breaks will make you weaker,” says Muscle Gaining Secrets author Jason Ferruggia. “But nothing could be further from truth. Most people get stronger by doing so.”
- The single best way for hardgainers to build muscle is to focus on getting stronger. The biggest muscles are created primarily by increasing the amount of weight you can lift in the 5 to 15 repetition range. When you get stronger, know that you are on the path to getting bigger.
- Train each muscle group more often than once a week. Blitzing and bombing your muscles once a week with lots of exercises, sets and reps in an attempt to force them to grow is going to extend your recovery time. But it’s not necessarily going to make you grow any faster.
- Get 7-9 hours of sleep every night. Sleep deprivation impairs recovery and lowers testosterone levels. Without enough sleep your results will be less than optimal. Do whatever it takes to ensure you’re fully rested and prepared for combat the next time you train.
- If you want a simple prescription for mass, a total of 30 to 60 repetitions for each muscle group twice a week is sufficient for most hardgainers. Contrary to a lot of the training advice out there, there is rarely a need to do more than 60 repetitions per muscle group. That’s more than enough to get the job done.
- Plan your workouts in advance. Before you even set foot in the gym it’s vital that you have your workouts planned. If you want to see serious results, just “winging it” won’t be good enough anymore. That’s why you need to start keeping a training diary. You get to see in black and white how well your training program is or isn’t working.
- Don't be a workoutaholic. Many beginners train feverishly under the assumption that more is better, especially when results first appear. However, you're much better off easing into the process. "At first, your muscles aren't ready to do a lot more than they were doing before--they're ready to do a little more chief exercise physiologist with First Fitness Inc. in Salt Lake City and a spokesperson for the American Council on Exercise. "You increase your chances of success by moderating your activity a little bit. The morning after a workout, you want to feel like you trained, but you don't want to have to crawl to the bathroom."
- The best rep range for gaining size is eight to 20. "The optimum results for muscle growth come from lifting a weight that's between 60 percent and 80 percent of what you could lift for one, and only one, rep," . professor of theories of training at York University in Toronto. "At 80 percent, the average person can do eight to 10 reps; at 60 percent, he can do 15 to 20. Most people say anywhere from six to 12 reps is best for muscle growth, but six would be more than 80 percent."
- The two most important times to eat are when you wake up and after you train. You need fuel in your tank to train hard, and if you don't fill 'er up at breakfast, you'll be running on fumes later. "Make sure the majority of your breakfast consists of carbs, with some protein, maybe in the form of egg whites, thrown in for good measure,". an assistant professor at the University of Colorado in Colorado Springs. "Low-fat yogurt, or milk and cereal, would also fit the bill." It's equally critical to refuel immediately after you train, when your body's cells are most receptive to replenishing the energy they just spent. A premade drink containing both carbs and protein will satisfy immediate postworkout needs in the short run. A more substantial meal, however, consisting of complex carbs and complete protein (chicken breast contains a better amino-acid profile than egg whites, for example) should be consumed within 90 minutes of a workout.
- Difficult exercises are good for you, so resist the temptation to avoid them. Most exercises can be classified as either single-joint or multijoint movements. The former includes the barbell curl, in which only your elbow joints move. Along with the deadlift and the bench press, the latter includes the squat, during which your ankles, knees and hips are all being extended and flexed, while your upper body works hard to keep the load stable. Multijoint movements are the more difficult of the two types to master, but it's well worth the effort to learn their proper execution, since they result in maximum muscle growth of more complex muscle groups like the chest or the legs. "People often get too specific in their exercise selection At some point, you really need to do big multijoint exercises that involve large amounts of muscle mass."
- Unless it is the primary focus of your training, do cardio after, not before, you lift weights. Or do it during another part of the day, or better still, on a separate day. "If you perform aerobic-type exercise first, you'll be fatigued for your weight training," says Cotton. "As a general rule, strength training has less of an impact on cardio than cardio has on strength training."
- Stretch before you train, and warm up before you stretch. Don't jump right into your weight-training session. First, do about 10 minutes of low-intensity exercise on a stationary bike or a treadmill. "To decrease the chance of injury, you need to elevate your body temperature before you do anything more intense author of Sports Stretch. Once your tissues are warm, stretch them for another five to 10 minutes, focusing your effort on those body parts you plan to train. Alter also recommends stretching the body part, or parts, being worked for 15 to 20 seconds after every set. And don't jump right out of your training mode. Follow with a brief cool-down in which you basically just keep moving for five minutes or so, with another five to 10 minutes of stretching.
- Recovery is just as important as training. When you lift weights, you're actually tearing down muscle fibers. It's only after you've completed your workout that your muscle tissues begin the rebuilding process. To allow that process to unfold properly, give your body adequate downtime in between workouts. As a beginner, don't lift more than three or four times a week, never work the same muscle group on consecutive days, and never train a muscle group that's still sore from a prior workout. For optimal results, you also need to maintain a proper nutrition program, which calls for five or six nutrient-packed small meals a day (four, at minimum). Finally, you need to get enough shut-eye--at least eight hours of it. Adequate sleep keeps you mentally and physically sharp for your workouts, and the act of slumber itself accommodates the release of growth-inducing hormones.
- Don't do the same workout over and over. Your body only changes when you force it to, and it's remarkably quick to adapt to new stimuli. If you repeat the same workout every training session even for a month, your body can probably handle it without producing an adaptive response. If you feel like your progress has reached a plateau, that's probably what's happening. The best way to avoid plateaus is by periodizing your training, which simply means arranging it according to discrete phases designed to achieve different, albeit related, goals, including muscle growth, strength and definition. That's also the best way to avoid overtraining.
- Most guys need to consume an additional 2,500 to 3,500 calories a week to gain one pound of muscle each week. You can pump iron until you're blue in the face, but if you don't augment your training efforts with enough food and fluid, the laws of human biology and simple mathematics dictate that you won't get any bigger. "When it comes to gaining muscle, the most important thing is eating enough calories to fuel both your exercise and the metabolic processes needed to build muscle," author of Power Eating. "Most guys who have trouble gaining weight and strength simply aren't eating enough."
- Women seem to dig men who work out. Sports psychologists could speak on this topic at length, and relevant studies doubtless have been performed, but we know this statement is true because Karen Being in Shape definitely gives men that extra sex appeal," Playmate of the Year. "It's the confidence you show that actually leads to the sex appeal, I think. If you're not confident and you don't feel good about yourself, why would someone else be attracted to you? Working out leads to self-confidence, which leads to sex appeal.