Have you ever looked at a guy or gal in the gym and think to yourself, "I wonder what it is they are doing to look the way they do?" I have! I've even gone up to a few of these people and flat out asked them. Most of them are very accommodating and willing to talk about their regimen, and some of them want to be left alone. In order to live the "Key 3" (Light the Spark, Stoke the Flame, Pass the Torch), I need to be willing to share what I've learned. So, that's exactly what I'm going to do here.
To build muscle, you don't need to drink a dozen eggs a day, nor do you need to spend 5 hours in the gym on a daily basis. In fact, to build muscle appropriately and in a manner that won't outrun your joints' ability to keep up, those are great examples of what NOT to do.
As with anything you're trying to start, there are steps to take in the progression. Below, I will line out the steps I take in order to build muscle and strength.
Step 1: Get to a gym!
Get a gym membership! Invest in yourself! I know some of you out there are thinking, "I want to workout at home!" It's not impossible if you're the 1% of the people who can effectively do that. However, for the rest of the human race, you need to make moves to plant yourself in an environment that is solely focused on exercise. When you try to workout at home (every time I have tried to anyway), you run the risk of losing focus when you see your kids' socks or toys strewn about and then you become distracted and put them away. Then before you know it, you're on a quest to clean the entire house!
Step 2: Lift Heavy Weights!
It's simple, but true. You aren't going to gain muscle or strength by cardio circuits. Cardio circuits and HIIT are meant for endurance and fat-loss, not strength-building. In order to build you should be performing 1-5 reps, 4-5 times/sets, resting 1-2 minutes between sets. It's as simple as that. And ladies, if you're worried about looking like "Starla", don't be...
You simply don't have enough testosterone to make that transition.
Step 3: Recovery is JUST AS IMPORTANT as Lifting!
Never work the same muscle groups on consecutive days. You can work the same muscle group, with focus on a different area, more than once a week, just don't do it consecutively. For example, if I work back one day and want to work it again in two days, I will first work with a wide-grip. Then, two days later, I will work with a close-grip. This will work the same body system, but different muscles of said system.
Sleep is VERY important! It is during this time when your body actively rebuilds and adds to the muscles you are trying to develop. Aim for at least 7 hours of sleep. Make the effort to go to bed early so you can feel refreshed and ready for the next round.
DO NOT push through sharp pain when working out! Delayed muscle soreness is normal. However, if you are experiencing sharp, localized pain to any body part, stop immediately and consult your physician. Do not put yourself at risk for injury because you think you're "getting after it".
Step 4: Hydrate!
You should be drinking enough water to the point where your urine is clear. If you have the feeling of being thirsty, you're already behind the 8-ball. It is extremely important for your body to be hydrated to operate properly and purge the toxins as well as metabolize the protein you will use to build muscle. Water isn't called "the element of life" for no reason...
Buy a Hydroflask and carry it everywhere to make this step a no-brainer.
Step 5: Feed Your Body!
Your body needs calories to build muscle. Particularly protein and carbohydrates. So, when you're trying to build muscle, if you think you're doing yourself a solid by cutting carbs, you're wrong. You're starving your body of exactly what it needs to do the work.
Here’s a good post-workout shake recipe for you to try.
Add half a banana, about 8-10oz of almond milk, 1 tbsp honey, and a scoop or two of whey protein powder to a blender. Turn it on and slowly add three ice cubes to it, one at a time. Once it is smooth and frothy, it’s done.
These are the 5 key components of building muscle (the natural way). These things are always on my mind when I am working through a muscle-building regimen. Please take these components to heart and don't skimp on one thinking that it's not as important. They are equally important!
Thanks for reading! Please comment with any questions and share your experiences of what works for you! Also, please share with anyone that may find this article helpful.
Thanks for being a part of the IGNITEd Crew and as always, be hard to kill out there!