For those who are aiming to build muscle through going to the gym, there are a variety of factors that need consideration if you are hoping to maximise the gains of weight lifting. It is easy to get sucked into the trap of thinking that the more often you train and the heavier the weight, the greater the benefits will be. However, this is far from the case. Things such as the type of training, the frequency of training and how you help your muscles recover after training are extremely important, and will help progress as well as preventing injuries from occurring.
Build Muscle, Burn Fat – Establishing a Routine
Once you have familiarised yourself with the various machines and equipment that the gym offers (most gyms offer an introduction upon joining), the next step is deciding upon a routine. In order to make steady progress in terms of building muscle, you need to be training regularly, as leaving large gaps between sessions could result in your muscles atrophying. This happens when the muscles you are training suddenly stop being used; while muscle memory helps combat this (your biceps won’t suddenly disappear just from missing one or two sessions), to ensure that your strength gains are regular it is important to stick as closely to a routine as possible. With this in mind, it is crucial to remember that achieving a balance is also important. Training too often is possibly even more detrimental to your progress than training too infrequently, as it means that your muscles won’t have time to recover and rebuild after they are broken down through weight lifting. A suitable compromise would be training around three times a week, spacing out the sessions in order to give yourself rest days in-between workouts.
Build Muscle, Burn Fat – Focussing on Different Muscle Groups
Another trap that is easy to fall into in the world of weight lifting is focusing too much attention on certain muscles. Spending hours on the bench to improve your pectorals is one thing, but if it comes at the expense of working your back muscles then you risk looking out of proportion. As with establishing a training routine, the key to working certain muscles is balance. Make sure that if you are targeting your biceps on one day, you target your triceps on the next workout, and then keep rotating in order to cover all the muscle groups in your weekly routine. This means that when you notice your muscles growing and your body changing shape, it will be all in proportion and you won’t have one area that looks out of place.
In terms of how you divide your weight lifting sessions, it can be beneficial to target one or two muscle groups at once. Attempting to give every muscle a workout in one gym visit can be troublesome, as it often takes longer and means that the muscles won’t be broken down as comprehensively as if they were targeted individually on different days. For instance, if you decided to train three times a week you could group muscles on different days, making sure you give each area the proper attention: shoulders & legs, back & biceps and chest & triceps would be just one of the many possible combinations. Choosing to narrow your focus on each workout will give you the chance to try out a variety of different lifts and exercises; don’t forget to change the exercises you do every now and then though, or you risk your muscles growing accustomed to the routine, which would minimise your strength gains.
Build Muscle, Burn Fat – Cardiovascular Exercise
As well as weight lifting in order to build muscle, it is just as important to maintain your levels of fitness by doing cardiovascular exercise such as running and cycling; this will help you to burn fat while you are bulking up, helping you to achieve your desired physique while staying fit and healthy in the process. High intensity cardio exercise burns fat at a faster rate, so putting aside two or three twenty minute slots a week will help you to keep your fat levels to a minimum. Something like a 5k run would be perfect for this purpose, as it doesn’t take long and helps you really burn through the calories.
Build Muscle, Burn Fat – Diet, Rest and Recovery
The rest periods between training are just as important as the actual weight lifting sessions themselves, as they give your body a chance to recover. This recovery can be assisted in a variety of ways, with diet and sleep being two of the most important. A high protein diet provides your muscles with the nutrients they need for growth and repair, while carbohydrates are also important as they help maintain your energy levels. Sleep gives your body the perfect chance to recover and reboot, so giving yourself around eight hours a night is a good place to start. Getting a good, untroubled sleep will allow your muscles to fully repair themselves, so minimising alcohol consumption in the evenings (and during the day, for that matter) is important as it can interfere will the recovery process.