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So, you’ve decided that you want to get in shape, which basically means you want to build some muscle. A lot of people who are new to the world of lifting start off by saying things like: “I just want to tone up” or “I don’t want to be ripped or bulky, just ideal” or whatever.
Toning is a myth. It’s all about removing those squishy zones of fat and building the muscle that is hiding underneath.
But, if you have a specific goal in mind, whether you want to become stronger, faster, more flexible or more co-ordinated, it isn’t rocket science – anyone can do it. Start off by getting a gym membership, because it encourages you to get something out of the money you’re spending each month. Set your goals, like the ones mentioned above, and more importantly: stay committed.
It’s easier said than done, that’s a fact. But understanding the health benefits and the fun of beating challenges are just some of the reasons why it’s all worthwhile. Let’s take a look at the health benefits.
Health Benefits of Building Muscle Mass
Lifting heavy weights in search of a tightly fitted body is sometimes associated with the typical gym stereotypes i.e. grunting, beefy, monstrously vascular bodybuilders who will snigger and snark at the newbies who are on the first step to fulfilling their goals. It turns a lot of people off, because it doesn’t sound like a place where you’d want to devote an hour and a half of your life three to four times a week.
But forget that. The trick is to always remember that you’re working out for you. You may want the body to impress the love of your life, but in the end, you’re doing it for yourself. Once you get the hang of the hundreds, maybe thousands, of different muscle building exercises out there, the health benefits are addictive.
- Bone strength increase
- Release of “feel good” hormone: endorphins
- Reduced risk of osteoporosis
- Increase in confidence
- Better moods
- Prevents diabetes
- Reduces chances of cardiovascular disease
- Keeps the brain active and increases alertness
- Improves flexibility that comes with ageing
- Relieves any kind of stress
- Increased libido
The truth, letting off a little steam is good for everyone, and if you achieve a better, sexier body out of it, it has to be THE best thing for you, right?
Understanding The Process
The journey to adding lean muscle mass is a battle between the mind and body. If you lack the commitment, being inactive will see your hard-earned gains slowly deteriorate. It is worth mentioning that muscle loss is determined by age, the older you are, the harder it is for your body to keep the mass. But don’t let that bring you down, it’s just another challenge that you can overcome.
It’s all about variation when it comes to weight training. Mixing up your routine will give you results. If you stick to the same old routine month after month, your body will grow accustomed to the different motions, and you won’t progress. Shock the muscles, make them work for you and you’ll see results. Just be sure to listen to what your body is telling you. Squeezing out those last few repetitions may not be what you need when your body is screaming in agony and fatigue. Take a breather and give it a go if you feel like you can. It’s all apart of the learning process.
Nutrition Is The Priority
Training like an animal, shattering personal records and challenges is all well and good, but giving what your body needs to repair and grow determines your results, it’s that simple.
Your body needs a variation of the different food groups. Protein, carbs, essential fats, greens and dairy. Working out won’t give you the results you’re looking for without a healthy balance of these five groups. Protein is perhaps the most important food group in the list. It’s the fuel that repairs and grows your muscles, so opt for lean cuts of chicken, roast beef and pork.
Being healthy doesn’t have to be difficult, you can still enjoy the foods you love. It’s just all about moderation. A “cheat day” is popular among the fittest people in the industry, because it’s a chance to give your brain what it wants, and that’s a junk food craving. Everybody likes to indulge on a nice pizza, or a sweet pudding, so give your brain what it wants once in a while. As devilish as you might feel after it, just remember your goals. Eat balanced portions of good fats to supplement your diet. Foods such as walnuts, almonds and salmon are healthy sources of fat. Also, get the whole grains into the mix.
People who will stop at nothing to achieve the body, or level of fitness they’re after will try and reduce the downtime. Whatever some serious lifters may tell you, you need to rest and regenerate the energy lost from your last strenuous work out. The golden rule is to allow around 36 to 48 hours between muscle group workouts, which basically means: don’t workout the same muscle group more than once within a two-day period. Muscles can get overworked and burnout, sometimes even injured, and that’ll disrupt your progress. Don’t confuse soreness with injury, you may find yourself on a slippery slope.
The importance of sleeping is something that a lot of people are starting to take on board nowadays. If you’re a middle of the day gym-goer, come home, put your feet up and have a power nap to recuperate. But the key is to get around 8 or 9 hours of sleep a night, it’s long enough to give your body the rest it so desperately needs.
Getting the body you’re dreaming of, isn’t rocket science. You don’t necessarily need a fancy nutritionist or personal trainer to get to where you want. It’s all about conquering your mind, organising it to work and eat smart.