Most people have absolutely no idea how to actually improve their body composition.
There are so many different rules in life. Don’t cross the street until you see the walk signal. Don’t drive through an intersection until the light turns green. Dispose of your trash in proper receptacles. If you need help understanding the basic rules of life, you can usually find a sign or visible law that will point you in the right direction.
Unfortunately, the laws of fitness are not so clearly laid out, which is unfortunate, because improving the way you look is most likely the reason why you’re even in the gym in the first place! Many gymgoers have free reign to follow whichever training and nutrition guidelines they see fit. These guidelines may either work out great or, as in many cases, lead to disastrous results. Knowing the best muscle building laws and implementing them appropriately will play a huge role in ensuring your success in the fitness arena.
To increase your chances of success, I’ve provided five rules that you should NEVER break when it comes to your training and nutrition protocol. Follow them, and you’ll make significant progress towards your goals of building muscle, increasing strength, and incinerating fat!
Rule 1: Stay Hungry
When you set out to accomplish your goals, you will most likely want to get into a routine that aligns with your aspirations, schedule, and lifestyle. And, over the first few weeks to months of your training, you will notice that you make extremely appreciable progress (a phenomenon commonly referred to as “the newbie gains”). It is key at this point to realize that the novelty of your fitness routine is the key driver behind your progress. You have given your body the challenge of working to a new capacity and your body responds by growing bigger, becoming stronger, and appearing leaner. While most of this short-term progress can be attributed to primarily neurological adaptations, after some time, actual changes in the muscle fiber become evident.
Ok, so here is where many trainees fall off track. They will continue to use the same programming that led to their “newbie gains” for an overly extended period of time; so long, in fact, that their body adapts to the stimulus and no longer responds in the above manner. If you want to continue progressing, you need to continue to ensure that your body is responding to a new stimulus. This novelty may come through the alteration of your nutrition, training frequency, or exercise style.
This practice is often referred to the theory of progressive overload, which basically means that, in order to progress with your fitness, you need to continually challenge your body to new levels of performance (as it will inevitably adapt to previous protocols set before it). If you get too comfortable with your workout routine and diet and if you stop pushing yourself to new heights, you can expect your progress to come to a screeching halt!
That is why it’s so important to ensure that you are following programming that is as dynamic as your body’s adaptations. Your exercise, diet, performance, and body composition need to be carefully tracked and tuned on a continual basis in order to really elevate your game.
RULE 2: Stay True To The Proven Multijoint Movements
As a gym newbie, you most likely learned a certain set of foundational exercises that intended to teach your body how to perform fundamental motions. As you proceeded to exercise more and more, you perhaps began experimenting with a few additional movements, angles, body positions, and/or pieces of equipment. Now, while it is true that these secondary exercises do have their place in your routine, it’s a mistake to think that you will ever “outgrow” the basic, fundamental exercises that formed the ground floor of your training career. The reality is that these basic multijoint movements are THE BEST BUILDERS OF MASS. The key multijoint movements recruit a rather large number of muscle fibers, which helps to drive desirable hormonal responses (higher expression of growth hormone and testosterone)
Think squats, deadlifts, bench press, shoulder presses, and rows. These elements should serve as the foundation of your routine. Are there exceptions to this recommendation? Are there people who struggle with these exercises due to a variety of different biomechanical variables? Are there trainees who are better served by sticking to isolation moves? Sure. But please do not assume that you are one of the rare exceptions.
It’s very important that your exercise routine thoughtfully incorporates these compound movements by considering the proper amounts of resistance, rep schemes, and training styles. Without the personalization of the approach, you will not be able to yield maximum results.
For assistance in crafting your own personal routine, please refer to our Online Coaching page and I would be more than happy to create your optimal routine!
RULE 3: Pace Yourself
Obviously, if you want to realize your goal, you’ll need to demonstrate discipline and consistency. This transformation will not happen overnight. The fitness models that you see all over the Internet? Yeah, it took them years of hard work and commitment to achieve those results. So, it’s important to pace yourself properly over this span of time.
I’ve seen a lot of passionate fitness enthusiasts that love exercising so much that they go to the gym and lift for four hours a day, seven days a week. They incorporate a variety of challenging intensity techniques on every single set that they perform. And they never take vacations. Heck, I’ve even seen guys who work out three times in a single day! Regardless of what other trainees may say or do, I am here to tell you that THIS IS NOT THE BEST LONG TERM APPROACH TO FITNESS.
This practice will increase your risk of injury, heighten your cortisol levels, decrease your testosterone, and potentially lead to mental stagnation. If you begin to notice a mental “burnout”, lessen your training frequency and/or intensity immediately, at least in the short term.
Training with high volume can be extremely helpful. Drop sets are fantastic. Forced reps are great. And I LOVE rest-pause style training. However, these training styles need to be carefully incorporated into your routine so that you can balance your intensity with your long-term vision. For assistance in striking this balance properly, consult with me, and I will be more than happy to help you formulate a plan.
RULE 4: Always Be Open To Learning
If you ever learn absolutely everything there is to know about fitness, feel free to parade around the Internet trolling people all day. However, don’t get your hopes up; I can assure you that this day will never arrive because there is always more to learn! Understand that you should take everything you read on the Internet with a grain of salt. Due to a variety of different variables such as genetics, age, height, weight, gender, and metabolism, not every protocol will work the same for every body; two people will seldom every respond to a program in the same way. So, it’s difficult to gauge the validity of a piece of advice without trying it out for yourself.
There are a variety of different approaches out there when it comes to fitness, and it is important that you are open to them all. Be on the lookout for novel training concepts that you can potentially incorporate into your routine. Some of these concepts may appear to be unconventional and perhaps a bit strange, however, they may open up new avenues for you. One sure way to halt your physical development is to think that you know everything there is to know about fitness and that there’s no more opportunity to expand your base of knowledge.
Open your mind to new ways of thinking; be a student of this craft!
RULE 5: Always Look For Ways To Gain An Edge
There are a few ways that you can gain an edge.
Consider using supplements. You do not HAVE to take supplements, but there is a great deal of research out there to support the advantages of using whey protein, creatine, and caffeine (among other compounds). These supplements, when added to a proper diet and training routine, can offer you a significant performance boost Make sure that you are using the right supplements for your goals and, if you have difficulty identifying the appropriate products, definitely consult with me and I would be happy to point you in the right direction.
Get into the habit of prepping your meals ahead of time. You can cook your core foods in bulk and store them away in the fridge; that way, they are handy when mealtime comes around. If you do not have clean sources of protein, carbohydrates, and fats on hand, you will most likely miss a meal, eat random junk that is sitting around your house, or resort to fast food in order to satisfy your hunger. Obviously, these solutions are less than optimal for you and your goals! Invest some time to prepare your meals for the day ahead of time so that your diet is on point.
Nailing the small things ensures you’ll have better workouts, won’t miss meals, and get a performance boost in the gym. Add them all up, and you’re more likely to make faster progress toward your goals.
Well, there you have it. Five surefire laws that will ensure that you are moving in the right direction.
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