There is a lot of bad information out there on the subject building muscle and how to stay fit. We're being told over and over again about how difficult it is for women to gain some muscle mass due to our hormonal setup. Male trainers convince the majority of female trainers to go for the high rep method, thus burning fat and getting "toned". Does that lead you to any results? Well, maybe, if you're totally new to training! Otherwise this will get you nowhere, but it will absolutely bore you out until you drop.
I tell you, and I know I'm right, that anyone can reach their fitness goals. That's it. The only things you need are discipline, motivation, patience and perseverance and remember, practice makes perfect (even regarding having these characteristics). Here I will go through some major things you need to know so you can reach your goals.
Train With Heavy Weights
Considering yourself training heavy if you are doing 8-12 reps? Well, scale down to 4-6 and you're good to go. The kind of muscle fibers that yield the greatest power are also those that grow the most. The only way to stimulate growth is working within the power zone which is 3-6 reps per set. Heavier weights equal bigger muscles! Have you ever seen a muscular person train with relatively light weights?
In the gym you're not supposed to succeed every set. If your muscles could handle the load (the whole set), your body thinks, "Ok, we managed that one, there's no need to improve and recruit more muscle mass". You asked your body for something and it delivered. Now, ask for more and you're forcing your body to adapt. The only way for your body to survive your hard training is to get stronger and stronger, which often means more muscle mass!
Stop Those Marathon Workouts
Many people confuse muscle building with fat burning, believing you burn more fat doing high reps with little or no rest between sets. Here's the truth: weight training is the best way to effectively build muscle mass, which in turn burns fat for you all day. The more mass you've got, the more fat and energy you burn all the time.
The catch is that weight training breaks down muscle, it doesn't build it! So, when you're doing too many sets for too long a period, your muscles get totally broken down. Add some cardio post workout and you can be sure you're killing every little chance of adding muscle tone!
What you need is no more than a total of about 8-10 sets per workout excluding warm-up sets. That's not much you may say, but believe me, when you're working harder than ever, you'll see those results coming! Don't be afraid to rest between sets either; you definitely need 2-3 minutes to recuperate.
Do Cardio Separately From Your Weight Training
Too much cardiovascular training eats muscle. Never do it after your weight training. I know all experts tell you to do that, but here are some facts: weight training is a mere stimulus for the muscles to grow and if you break them down too long (for more than about 45 minutes) they will never recuperate and rebuild.
When adding cardio afterwards your body is so demolished, and this destruction continues until you down a protein/carb shake! The sooner you replenish your muscles with some energy, the faster they will get back on track!
The same thing goes for doing cardio on an empty stomach. That's the worst thing you can do! Any strenuous activity at that time will break down your muscles. Be sure to have a small breakfast pre workout and keep your cardio sessions short but intense.
Many so called experts tell you to do about an hour of cardio at moderate intensity. I say you'll get better results doing short interval style cardio instead. You need no more than 20 minutes, 3-5 times a week. High intensity cardio burns no fat during the activity but it revs up your system 24/7, just like weight lifting does!
Have Many Small Snacks
The best way to make your body build muscle is to give it energy. The most important time of the day is post workout. What you need is a protein/dextrose shake with l-glutamine and creatine. Opt for 30 grams of protein and the equivalent amount of sugar (dextrose). Don't skip this meal, that's the worst thing you could do! If you're really serious about muscle building, you down one third of your post workout shake prior to your weight lifting. Doing that puts your system in an anabolic (building) state!
Now, by doing this, you're on your way to transform your body. About 40 minutes later, have another small snack, this time have 2-4 rice cakes and another half of a protein shake. This keeps your system building. The last and most important snack is 1 hour after the second one. Now, you can have 1/4 a cup of oats and 1/2 a cup of low-fat cottage cheese.
Seems like a lot of eating? Remember, these are small, small meals which gives your body energy to reverse the breaking down of muscle mass, but not so much it gets stored as fatty tissue!
Eat The Right Stuff At The Right Time!
Protein should be your first priority since it's the building blocks for muscle mass. Make sure you get some every time you eat. Aim for about 1 1/2 grams of protein per pound of bodyweight. Carbs gives you energy and forces the protein into your muscle cells, but consume too much and you'll have a hard time to get rid of body fat. By having about 1/3 of your daily amount of carbs about 1 1/2 hours pre workout and then the rest afterwards, you'll have plenty of energy to train heavy, plus: no carbs get stored as fat.
Don't forget about the good fats either! Have about 20-30 grams each day in the form of fish oil, CLA, flax seed oil etc. The best way to lose fat and not get hungry is eating about 1-3 pounds of green veggies each day. No, I didn't make a mistake writing that! 1-3 pounds of veggies was right.
It takes a lot of energy for your system to digest veggies and that makes you feel full and satisfied. Try to eat that much starch… it doesn't work. These are just a few things you should adapt to your regimen. Don't forget though that you also need discipline, motivation, perseverance and patience... Get these in order and the results will come. I promise you!