8 Secrets To Getting Fit & Firm This Fall Season

Women, You Will Not Get Bulky!!!! 

Don’t worry, we’re not in the business of making you look like Miss Universe. We do know however that summer is over, it’s time for that fall coat and Spiced Pumpkin Latte and the jog outside might not be in the picture anymore. Here are some tips so you can avoid packing on the pounds this winter:[ 

1. Eat Protein.  

Protein is often referred to as the Building Blocks of Life because it builds and repairs muscles. Therefore, in order to get the full benefits of this macronutrient, you should consume it evenly throughout the day. Generally speaking, it is recommended to have 1 gram of protein per pound of body weight, however keep in mind this can change depending on the individual and their fitness/lifestyle goals. Beware of proteins that are rich in saturated and trans fats like fatty cuts of meat and processed meats (hotdogs etc..) 

To get even more specific, let's look at the 3 best times to consume protein. 

It is ideal to consume protein when you wake up in the morning. Think eggs, bacon, avocado, or nuts and aim for at least 30g. Eating protein in the morning will help to boost your energy and keep you fueled for the day. It also leaves you with a feeling of fullness, which reduces the total number of calories you will be consuming throughout the day. This can also assist in weight loss.  

It is recommended that you have some form of protein 45-60 minutes after training. This should also include fast-digesting carbs (simple sugars). This will prevent your body from using muscle for energy and assist in the muscle building process (synthesis).  

You will commonly hear that consuming protein before bed helps to prevent muscle loss. That once your body has no more amino acids remaining, it will cannibalize your muscles, however this process does not occur as easily as we think. On the other hand, Amino Acids will assist in the reparation and building of muscles while you sleep, so that explains why it is recommended to consume protein before bed. Your body will not have to put protein synthesis on hold as you sleep and wait for your morning meal - it will have what it needs to continue building those coveted muscles.  

2. Eat More Often.  

When the body has no energy and is depleted of calories, it will look to lean muscle as a food source, not fat. Unfortunately, our bodies are resistant to fat loss, so we risk the chance of burning our hard earned muscles when our body is in desperate need of nutrients. This is why it is important to ensure your body has access to calories (healthy) throughout the day!  

Eating more often will reduce the risk of your body consuming it`s own muscle, and help to regulate your metabolism. By eating 4-6 small meals per day, your body will learn to use calories more efficiently and be less likely to go into starvation mode. Contrary to popular belief, increasing the frequency of your meals throughout the day will not automatically lead to weight gain. Ensure a good quality and freshness of foods and control portion size - this will prevent you from gaining unwanted pounds.  

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3. Mix Up Your Routine.  

There are so many different exercises available that it's no wonder you are anxious to mix up your routine. However, you should not be changing your workout routine too often. If you change your routine too often, you will hinder your results because muscles grow through progression instead of constant change. Your body needs time to adapt to the exercises, and then be challenged through variations in tension and weight.  

People who generally change their workout program too often will notice an increase in strength but never a significant gain in muscle mass. Take your time to truly learn the exercises you will be doing, and to master the technique. There is no need to rush into learning new and complicated exercises if you can progress by decreasing repetitions of a given movement, changing the angle of an exercise or increasing the weight.  

If you change your program every 4 weeks, you will be able to achieve those gains and stay excited about training. 

 

4. Make Sure You Are Training for Hypertrophy.  

To a certain degree, any weight lifting program will cause muscle gain but if you really want to see maximized results, it is recommended that you follow a hypertrophy program. In a nutshell, hypertrophy means an enlargement of existing cells by increasing volume of a tissue/organ. In other words, muscle growth. 

 

Generally, you will want to train each body part at least 1x per week, which means you should be aiming for a minimum of 3-4 trainings per week. To get bigger muscles, you must subject them to stresses during workouts which will cause them to slightly tear. Your muscles will repair themselves and also grow in the process. To achieve this stress, it is recommended that you keep rest times between repetitions to less than 60 seconds. Try to complete between 9-12 sets per muscle group, and stay within the repetition range of 8-12. 

 

Time under tension is also an important component of a hypertrophy program.This refers to the amount of time a muscle experiences strain during any given movement. For optimal muscle growth, keep sets between 30 and 40 seconds.When you are doing an exercise, make sure that you squeeze your muscle and really feel it working during the contraction. Be focused on the task and technique at hand.

 

5. Stay Hydrated.  

If you want to build muscle and maintain optimal performance you must develop a better relationship with the nutrient called water! We tend to underestimate the importance of water in the functioning of our bodies, forgetting that our brains are 95% water, our blood is 82% and lungs approx 90%. That's a lot of water!  

If you do not consume enough water throughout the day (approx 2 L for women and 3 L for men - even more when you are training!), your brain can shrink which causes impaired neuromuscular coordination, slow thinking and decreased concentration. When you are dehydrated, your muscles respond at a slower pace, your strength lessens and you have a tendency to feel more tired...and hungry! Those are some pretty serious side effects of not drinking water that will complicate your ability at reaching your true potential. Consuming appropriate amounts of water will facilitate the process of getting nutrients to your cells (water transports nutrients and flushes out waste) and be called essential for optimal muscle growth! Drink up! 

6. Train Intense!

The trick for muscle gain is not necessarily in the frequency or duration of your trainings, it lies in the intensity. The more intense your workout is, the more your body releases the growth hormone, which assists in building muscle. As a rule of thumb, if you are able to exercise over 1 hour without feeling tired, your workout has not been intense enough. Keep your workout but intense to prevent yourself from burning out. 

 

Training to failure has been shown to increase muscular gains versus other types of trainings. This allows your muscles to be overloaded and forces adaptations more quickly. It is also effective in working through plateaus. 

Several ways of increasing your workout intensity can be achieved by increasing weights, reducing rest times, completing supersets, and working to failure. 

7 & 8. Get Enough Rest and Sleep!

What you do both inside the gym and outside counts when it comes to building muscle. Although training is crucial, so is rest. This also includes active rest, which assists during the muscle recovery process and includes massages and foam rolling. Active rest helps to restore blood flow to working muscles while relaxing them for future trainings.

It is important to get enough sleep (see below) and reduce stress levels. Too much stress releases a hormone which literally starts to eat at your muscles. Ensure you are not overtraining, which can be unproductive for muscle gain. You rest periods will generally depend on how many trainings you have done, how intense they were and how long you exercised for. Make sure you are achieving an appropriate balance and getting those gains!

 

 

It's not only active recovery that matters - it`s the amount and quality of the sleep you get too! Sleep is important because it helps with protein synthesis - which is what you need for building and repairing muscles. Sleep also releases the Human Growth Hormone, which affects skeletal growth and metabolism. 

Studies have found that people who do not sleep enough will see a drop in their hormone Leptin, which tells the body when it is full. Lowered levels of this hormone have been shown to cause Carbohydrate cravings, which can lead to weight gain. Getting enough sleep will provide your with a well-deserved break from daily stressors, allow your body to replenish it's energy sources and help you reach more optimal levels of performance. 

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Women, You Will Not Get Bulky!!!!

Although this is not a tip for gaining muscle per se, I think it is important to set the record straight once more on women and big muscles. Let's be realistic for a second. The women we see competing in the CrossFit games are elite athletes who train twice per day, sometimes 7 days per week, are on a strict meal plan and are followed by expert coaches and trainers. They work HARD for their muscles and are lifting very heavy weights. 

 

The women we see competing in body building competitions have similar fitness backgrounds to athletes and are commonly known to take performance enhancing drugs to sculpt their physique to the competition. 

 

For women in general, it is not very easy to build large muscles because they do not have enough testosterone as men. This is a hormone that causes your muscles to grow and women have 10-30 times less of it than men. It's time to embrace weight lifting for the health benefits (weight loss, healthy bones, disease prevention) and stop focusing on the next to impossible. Trust me, if you are not training for it, you will not have to worry about it!