Bodybuilding is an extreme sport, period. To be a bodybuilder involves so much more than going to the gym and lifting weights. One must be willing to eat, drink and sleep bodybuilding. Literally! Outside of the gym, these are the most important things you do as a bodybuilder. That is, if you want to experience ANY gains from working out. If one of the links are broken, the whole chain breaks, and so will your body!
The purpose of this article is not to give specific advice on how to eat or train. Rather, its intention is to offer you a broader view of the bodybuilding journey. It is a helpful reminder of what's fundamentally important for successful bodybuilding endeavors.
Ever so often it is beneficial to step back and evaluate your regimen from a high level and make adjustments as needed. You may get so caught up in one aspect of bodybuilding (i.e. training) that you neglect to place needed emphasis on diet or sufficient sleep.
Bodybuilding and eating go hand in hand. In fact, often times I enjoy eating more than training! Training provides the stimulation to grow, but you can't build muscle without food. Take a few weeks off from training, and odds are you're not going to lose that much.
Take a few weeks off from eating and not only will you lose all of your hard-earned muscle mass, you will be struggling to stay alive! That being said, eating is more important than training!
If you've been unhappy with your results in the gym lately, take a look back and evaluate your diet. Have you missed meals? Did you eat a lot of fast food? Have you been eating the same things consistently?
If you've been eating a high-carbohydrate diet for more than a month, cut back on your carbs a bit and increase your protein intake. Remember, too much of anything is not good! Even food!
We've all heard it before, "you should always drink plenty of water." It can't be stressed enough. However, I believe that too much of anything is detrimental. So, yes, you can drink too much water! Experiment with different quantities and find out what works best for you.
I am 6-foot-3 and about 250 pounds. I find that on average, about a gallon a day works best for me. If I drink much more than that, I feel flat and smooth! When you consume extreme amounts of water like that, it not only flushes out "bad stuff," but "good stuff" as well. So taking multi-vitamins and plenty of nourishing food will ensure that you maintain a positive balance of the "good stuff".
Drinking large amounts of water can be a demanding and an annoying task, especially when you have to make a trip to the bathroom every thirty minutes. One thing that may make it easier is to set goals. For example, tell yourself that you are going to drink one large cup of water with every meal that day, or if you are a student, try to finish one bottle of water during class. I'm sure we have all set such goals from time to time, but when was the last time you've done it?
If you aren't getting enough sleep, you will not grow. In fact, prolonged periods of lack of sleep will make you small, weak and miserable. It doesn't matter what you are taking, eating, or how you are training. I had insomnia for about six months straight last year, and it was a training nightmare.
If you are experiencing such problems you may need to re-evaluate your schedule and your priorities, or take a couple weeks off from training. Unless the insomnia gets bad, I don't believe in taking medication for it. Nothing is more of a natural process than sleeping; we all need it to live.
So if you can't sleep, I believe a lifestyle change must be made. I also believe that stress is the number one cause of insomnia. At times when I'm going through a very stressful situation in my life, I may have to go light on the weights for a few days. On the other hand, too much sleep can be counterproductive as well.
Too much sleep will make you lethargic and slow. Also remember that the longer you sleep, the longer your body goes without food! Some need more sleep than others and finding out the ideal amount for you is the key! I personally have had many problems with lack of sleep, and in the future I plan on contributing an entire article to this topic, so watch for it!
Now, when you have established a strong foundation comprised of a properly nourished, hydrated, and recovered body, you are ready to build that body through intense training. When you drive a car, you don't drive somewhere and then put gas in the tank, you fill up your tank and then you drive. Will a car drive on an empty tank? No. Nor will your body respond to weight training if you don't have "fuel in the tank".
This is why training was mentioned last; not to downplay its importance, but perhaps to build up to it as the climax of the article. Remember, without the "fuel," the body won't respond! If you are running on a "full tank," I guarantee that you can have a great workout every time, as long as you are properly motivated and focused.
When you go into the gym, it's like stepping into another world, nothing else matters. When you go to the gym you need only worry about one thing, you should only have one goal in mind, and that is to empty the tank!
All of the food and supplements, the water, and the recuperation will now come into play and serve their main purpose: to fuel your workout! It has been said before, and I will agree, that there is no such thing as overtraining! One can only be under-recuperated. It can be easy to slip into a complacent, monotonous attitude towards working out.
Sometimes the best thing to do, as I stated before, is to step back and evaluate your regimen from a high level and make adjustments as needed. Also remember that when evaluating your diet, water intake, sleep and training, the key to your own success lies in finding out what works best for you!