I STARTED WHAT would be classified as bodybuilding about 3-4 months ago. I want to improve my physique and get fitter and stronger. But I’m not aiming to become some ‘roid ridden, sunbed using, oily muscle man posing in my trunks. I simply wanted to feel better and hopefully look better.
After nearly 4 months what have I learnt? What can I pass on to you?
Like anything in life lifting weights requires you to have some sort of aim or goal, otherwise you’ll dwindle and lose interest. Is it to get healthier? To look better for yourself/ partner/ potential partner? Any which way, you need to define and track your progress. That way you’ll have evidence of your exercise routine, there are numbers to show how you’ve improved, what your strengths and weaknesses are. I’m currently going through a review process – my motivation started to wane about a week ago, so I’m taking a 7-10 day break until I feel motivated again (already feeling the itch, metaphorical of course!). This is giving my body a break, my mind a break and allowing me to re-evaluate where I want to be in another 3 months. I initially I thought it was ‘cheating’ or being lazy or weak; even ill disciplined. Having read and listened to different sources on bodybuilding the consensus is that a break is a very positive thing. So do break.
What else? Choose a routine and stick to it for 4-6 weeks. Do not be afraid to change some elements of your routine. Routines become boring so if you don’t change aspects of it e.g. swapping out one exercise for a different one for the same bodypart then you will get bored and demotivated which is A) not necessary as you have alternatives and B) can really kill your enjoyment which will reduce your desire to lift.
Plan your workouts around your life. If you can’t exercise at night after work or studying, how about the morning? afternoon? This gives you the optimal chance to stick to a routine without making excuses.
Eat well, eat often. Keep your body fueled throughout the day with healthy foods and of course make sure you’re getting enough protein, without it muscle will not grow. A rough heuristic is per lb of bodyweight, eat 1g of protein. So 180lbs=180g of protein. This is difficult to through your food intake alone so pure protein powder like Pulsin is what you want – ideally there will be no additives. While on the subject of what you’re putting into your body, disregard all the bullshit supplements and steroids. Protein is THE main thing you need to get bigger alongside a healthy diet.
Make sure your workouts are at performed your maximum capacity. No on else will push you, the onus is on you alone, and only through exerting yourself and pushing the reps and weight during your set will you see improvements. However, don’t make the mistake of trying to lift too much – chances are you’ll only be able to do low reps. You’re better starting lighter and busting out 4 sets of 8 reps than 4 sets of 4-6 reps (unless you’re a powerlifter).
Don’t forget cardio! While gaining muscle doesn’t require cardio, being physically fit will boost your sessions and help keep your weight in check. Don’t overdo it though. If you’re busting out 1hour treadmill sessions on top of a 1hour weightlifting session then your body will need insanely good nutrition in order to simultaneously grow muscle.
A last word(s): get enough sleep! It helps your body recover and you’ll feel better in all aspects of your life. Remember the more you push your body the more your recovery matters.
Get fit, stay fit and enjoy it!