When it comes to exercising, many people just jump into the gym, hop on a machine and go… but this won’t get anyone very far. Knowing how to exercise properly is what’s going to get you to your goals quicker.
Firstly, KNOW your goals! Are you trying to build cardiovascular endurance? Build muscle? Shed fat? Recomp your body? Identify your goal and take the steps to achieve it.
Over the course of a few posts, I am going to be digging deeper into these goals and how best to achieve them.
Last time, I talked about Fat Loss, which you can view here.
Building muscle is a great way to add lean body mass, increase your resting metabolic rate and sculpt your body. In order to do that, you must be in a caloric surplus. That is, you must be consuming 250-500 more calories than your maintenance level. To find your maintenance level, it is best to base it off of personal experience or through the Harris Benedict Equation, Mifflin- St Jeor Equation and Katch- McArdle equation. If the equations do not take into account activity levels, then multiply which ever number you get by your activity factor:
1.2 = Sedentary (Little or no exercise + desk job)
1.3-1.4 = Lightly Active (Little daily activity & light exercise 1-3 days a week)
1.5-1.6 = Moderately Active (Moderately active daily life & Moderate exercise 3-5 days a week)
1.7-1.8 = Very Active (Physically demanding lifestyle & Hard exercise or sports 6-7 days a week)
1.9-2.0 = Extremely Active (Hard daily exercise or sports and physical job)
These are just rough estimates, so personally, I recommend doing them all then averaging the three numbers to find a good estimate on your maintenance level.
Consuming 250 caloires in surplus everyday will equate to gaining .5lbs a week and 500 calories will equate to gaining 1 lb a week. I recommend starting with 250 calories extra and once you plateau, moving up to 500 calories and more if needed. It is important to take in consideration that when you gain muscle, you cannot gain just muscle. Naturally, you will gain a little bit of body fat along with the muscle- that is just part of the process.
Do Macros Count? (Macronutrients are your fats, carbohydrates and proteins). Essentially, no. To gain muscle, all you need is a caloric surplus, but your macronutrient ratios will play a small part in your appearance. If you eat mostly carbs, you will appear fuller as you will be storing more water. If you eat too little fats, your skin and hair will be dry and brittle… So, while it isn’t necessary to get a certain macronutrient ratio to gain muscle, it is important to get a proper balance. Whilst building muslce, protein is very important. Get at least 1g of protein per pound of bodyweight. So you if you weigh 150lbs, consume 150g of protein daily. (I usually shoot for 1.5x my body weight).
Obviously, lifting weights is essential in building muscle. A good place to start is to lift heavy 3-4 times a week. Keep your rep range within 8-12, sometimes 6 if you are lifting very heavy and keep your sets to about 3 per exercise with 60-90 second rests in between. I always do supersets, which is when you do one exercise then do another immediately after with no rest and then rest after the second exercise and repeat until 3 sets are done. I also recommend doing 5-8 exercises per workout for a good, solid workout.
What body parts? A good way to start off is to do full body workouts. You need to build a solid muscle base that you can then build from.
What About Cardio? Personally, I do not recommend much cardio when trying to build muscle. It can really hinder your muscle growth. If you feel you cannot give it up completely however, then do it no more than twice a week (20-30 mins).
The Importance of Rest Days: When you lift heavy, your muscle fibers tear and when they have time to repair themselves (rest) they, along with the extra energy you are consuming will rebuild and grow. If you do not rest, you will not build muscle. Take 2-3 rest days per week if you are trying to build muscle.
*Please note that not all goals are suitable for all people, so please be sure to train safely and do not attempt a goal if it is not medically safe for you to do so*