Lift, Eat, Sleep, Repeat!
So you’ve decided that you want to build muscle, gain weight and be strong. I have 4 simple words for you:
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I know, you’re probably saying to yourself “It can’t really be that simple”. But it comes down to simple science. Lift heavy – which will stimulate muscle growth. Eat enough calories, or eat a surplus of calories that will make your body adapt to gain weight and build muscle. Sleep to help your body – specifically your muscles – to recover…and then repeat it all over again the next day!
In order to stimulate your muscles to grow, you are going to need to lift. That is going to require a mixture of lifting heavy to get strong, as well as doing hypertrophic based lifting, meaning staying in a rep range of 6-12.
The basic foundation of your program should include compound lifts like deadlifts, squats, as well as pull and press variations. This will force your body to use the larger muscle groups, which means more muscle recruitment and the potential for more weight lifted. You can also supplement these exercises with isolation or accessory type exercises to further increase your gains.
What you want to do is progressively overload your muscles, meaning every week aim to lift a little more. This will help progress your strength, as well as signal your muscles that they need to adapt to new loads. This will make them not only stronger, but bigger as well.
One last tip, don’t kill yourself in the gym! You want to do just enough to stimulate muscle growth. Try to avoid that instinct to overdo it.
Also known as “Get Your Gainz On”!
As opposed to a fat loss plan, where you want to be in a caloric deficit, gaining weight is going to require a calorie surplus. Think 14-16 times your bodyweight in terms of calories. Or just eat all the food you see.
Just kidding! In the beginning you may want to track your calories, so you know exactly how much you are taking in. Once you get an idea of exactly how much you should be eating, then you are on your way.
Get the proper calories!
Some will say that timing matters or that eating several meals matters, but in the beginning it really is going to come down to getting yourself into a caloric surplus. So start with the basics before you complicate things.
What kinds of things should you be eating? Well, protein is pretty much essential to building muscle. So start there. Then you can easily build from there, in terms of how many carbs/fats you should have.
Carbs are also going to be important, as they give you energy to perform your next workout, plus carbs will get stored as glycogen in your muscles to be used later.
Let’s be honest with ourselves for a second. How much sleep do you actually get? The National Sleep Foundation recommends that adults between the ages of 24-64 get at least 7 hours of sleep. Are you getting that much? Probably not.
I can already hear the reasons why. “I have too much to do” or “Not with kids, I don’t”. However, sleep is one of the most important aspects to exercise and being healthy.
It is because sleep allows our body to repair the wear and tear we put on it throughout the day and that’s not even counting what you’re doing as far as training. Throw that in the mix and you may actually need more. When our body is at rest, the healing and regeneration process begins.
So, in order to get stronger and build muscle, you’re going to want to maximize your rest periods. It’s as simple as this: we don’t make progress during our training, we make progress and gains when we recover.
This is pretty self-explanatory. You’re going to want to be on a training and nutrition program that is equivalent to what your goals are, which is getting strong, building muscle and gaining weight. Repeat these steps, depending on what your training schedule is.
Track your progress and if you’re not getting stronger and gaining weight/muscle, you may need to take a look at one of the three above categories. Adjust what you need to and get going.
Should you use supplements?
The big question on your mind, as you’re reading this, is if you should supplement or not. And if so, what should you take?
Supplements are there to do just that, supplement your diet as is. If you’re not getting everything from what you’re eating, then yes, supplementation may be an option.
The number one supplement that you can use is a protein powder. It’s a quick, easy and convenient way to get protein into your diet, especially when you don’t have access to a meal.
The list of other supplements you could take would fill a whole other article, so for the sake of simplicity I’ll just list a few: Glutamine, BCAA’s and your daily mutli-vitamin. Now, this is a short list and I am in no way tell you what to take. For that you would need to consult your doctor and/or a nutritionist.
So get out there, start lifting, start eating to compliment your lifting and, above all, get to sleep!
To read more about Chris Cooper, visit his Expert Profile.