Today, magazine covers are awash with pictures of muscular men and well-toned women. There is constant pressure on individuals to attain body perfection. Unsurprisingly, many of us aim to achieve these physiques and nowadays the goals in men’s and women’s fitness, more often than not, include the desire to gain muscle mass.
Yet what the articles, YouTube videos and Instagram blogs often fail to tell us is the mistakes that we can easily avoid if we are looking to pack on that extra muscle. Here, then, we look at some simple tips to assist you in both gaining and, thereafter, retaining muscle mass. Make sure that you are prepared for some hard work, but hopefully when combined with some handy pointers, you will see a difference. So where should you start?
Building muscle requires a strong level of self-discipline both in your training and in your diet. Most body builders love to share their secrets, or tell you’re the punishment they subject themselves to in order to add muscle. Instead of being overawed by this, think that they have gained muscles in spite of these flawed activities. For you to achieve similar gains, you need to avoid simple mistakes.
Most people looking to add muscle overindulge in unnecessary supplements thinking that they alone will solve their problems. However, fitness and muscle mass is not simply achieved by popping some pills. It is much better to have a wholesome diet, with protein, fruit and vegetables as a source of nutrition rather than over-the-counter supplements.
Remember that muscles do not grow in the gym, they grow when you are away from it. That said, you still have to swipe your flexible gym pass and hit the weights. But what people do not realise is that training damages the muscles and they need time to repair, and thus grow. This is what takes place away from the gym, and with a good healthy, nutritional diet. To grow bigger, your muscles have to recover. So over-training can be the enemy of gaining muscle mass. Aim to target different muscle areas throughout the week, giving the others time to recover before being targeted again.
You may never attain the look that you are truly after, and you have to accept this. You need to set realistic goals that are attainable. Different individuals will react differently to training, and for some, they will never be “big”. So set a series of goals that you can attain, and keep them dynamic, rather than static. In other words once you reach one goal, set another. Small steps are always better, so maybe think, I will aim to lose 5lbs first and then change the aim for say some definition in your muscle mass.
Perhaps the biggest failure when trying to build muscles is that people do not eat enough! That’s right, in order to build muscles you have to eat more. More of the right stuff of course, but still more calories. During exercise, the body burns the calories it can reach. Often, where the body is starved of nutrition, this involves depleting its own muscle stock in order to function. By training hard therefore you risk reducing your muscle mass IF you do not eat the right amount and types of food.
If you read an article setting out a routine, you often think that by copying that routine you will look like the model right? Wrong! That model has had years of basic training to get the body prepared for the harder workouts. You cannot, therefore, start at this intense level if you have no grounding in the basics. As a beginner swiping your flexible gym membership for the first time, therefore, you need to pick a basic routine and get an all over grounding in lifting weights. Let your body adapt to this before you change up your routine. Think, if you were going to run a marathon having never run a race before, the first time you set off, you wouldn’t run 26 miles! It is the same principle with weights. Start slowly and progress. Study the principles of the pros rather than their routines.
Having made the change to a healthier lifestyle, that’s great, but remember also that from time to time, though not every week, you will need to change your training regime, to keep your body engaged and to stave off the usual gym boredom levels that can cause plateaus. Some exercises such as squats will always be a staple, but alter what is in and around them to keep things fresh, to keep you motivated and engaged in the process.
You have two ears and one mouth, so it is a good idea to listen, especially to those that are trying to help you. Whilst gyms can be full of people offering “good” advice, make sure you apply the necessary filters and take only the positives from any conversations. Also, do not be afraid to ask for help, just pick the right person.
Lose it. Nobody knows your body better than you, so do not push it beyond its capabilities simply because you want to impress others. It won’t, and moreover, nobody is probably watching anyway. Everybody has to start somewhere, and each of us has been the new person in the gym at one point, so get past any concerns, get in there and get on with it.
We are all individuals, with different bodies and levels of fitness. If you have decided to make a change, to lose weight, get fit, or gain muscle always remember that you cannot be someone else, instead, just aim to be the best you! Good luck.
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