Everybody wants lean and sexy muscles but not everyone has the best routine to achieve them. When you have to work so hard at the gym to build up your muscles, you should definitely make sure that you are spending your time wisely.
If you've been at the fitness game for a while and still can't see the light at the end of the tunnel I invite you to check out the following 5 tips and make changes to your programme to be more tailored to your unique goals.
Having worked with a wide range of clients I have tested a few methods to help them lose body fat and gain toned muscles. Here are 6 tips that can help you too to get closer to your dream body.
1. Do the Same Programme for 4 - 6 Weeks
Keeping your workouts varied can be beneficial for those that get bored easily and only need the workouts for activity. If you have very specific goals, like dropping body fat and building lean muscle, you need a workout plan that's progressive and keeps your muscles challenged so you can track your progress.
A good periodised programme is designed to your individual needs, focuses on your specific goals and calculates in progress so you can go harder week by week. This also means you should stick to it for 4-6 weeks to understand your development better.
2. Have a Lifestyle Plan
Have you heard the saying that "abs are made in the kitchen" before? You can have the best workout plan on the Earth, but if you don't adjust other areas of your life, you may not see any or very small results. You will need to have better focus on your diet, get enough sleep and incorporate rest days as well.
Working out every day might feel great and make you think you should see results faster, but that couldn't be further from the truth. Muscle growth happens when your body is recovering from exercise. Exercise breaks down muscle tissue that your body builds back with the help of all the great nutrients from your diet while you're asleep and on rest days. The earlier you accept that the sooner you can reap the benefits.
3. Eat Protein, Protein and More Protein
To build muscle, you need amino acids. To get amino acids, you need to eat protein. A good aim is to eat around 1.6 grams of protein for every kilo you weigh but you might want to increase this to 2.6 grams if you are also trying to lose weight so that you don’t lose too much muscle with the fat.
You can get protein from lots of foods like eggs, beans, rice, meat, fish and quorn or tofu products so whatever your diet, you can certainly include enough to build muscle. While we are at macronutrients, make sure you get enough carbs to fuel your workouts and help your body build those muscles.
4. Widen Your Rep Range
Muscle hypertrophy (growth) happens when the muscles are under challenging (moderate) load for 8 - 12 times in a set and that's the rep range most bodybuilders will recommend.
While that is accurate and is important, performing more reps with lighter weights on certain muscle groups will be beneficial to improve the endurance of those muscles and you will still make gains.
When you go to the other end, increasing your load but lowering the amount of reps, your muscles will need to work harder to move that weight which then will aid strength gains.
Aiming for a lean and sexy look is one thing, but what is it worth if you have no stamina and strength to support the size? Work your body from multiple angles for accelerated fat loss and better quality of life on the long run.
5. Focus on the Squeeze
It sounds unlikely but a small study in the European Journal of Sports Science lends support to the findings that focusing on your muscles as you work - rather than zoning out or listening to music - may enhance muscle hypertrophy.
While the study results may not be conclusive to the whole population, you have nothing to lose in trying to pay active attenton to the muscle groups working in certain exercises.
Think about the concentration curls where you even look at the muscle while working it and apply it to other exercises. Compound movements will be more challenging since they involve a good few muscles. In those cases focus on the ones you can never feel, like the scapula in the deadlift, glutes on the squat, core on the press-up, chest on the bench and so on.
I trust you found at least one tip you can action on your next workout day. If you need clarification on any of the above or would like to get advice on your current workout programme or diet, feel free to get in touch!
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