Most people who come to me want to lose weight, build muscle, or both. Depending on what your goals are and where you’re at now, your diet and exercises should vary. Putting on muscle is possible for everyone, but if you do it right, you’ll see results faster. For those of you out there who are looking to build muscle, here are my top 3 tips:
Eating to maintain, eating to lose, and eating to bulk are all very different. When you’re looking to bulk, you don’t want to be at a caloric deficit or you’ll lose any muscle you would have gained, especially if you’re already lean and you’re looking to gain muscle. It goes without saying that all calories are not equal and you’ll have to figure out what you need to eat more of and less of. It’s best to calculate your target calories for each day in order to know how much you need for a surplus diet. (I mentioned MyFitnessPal in the previous blog—it’s great for this!) Timing of your meals is also important. For example, you’ll want to get some carbs and protein in your system as soon as you can after a workout.
Compound lifts include deadlifts, squats, bench press, dips, pull-ups, and more. They work your body across multiple joints and engage muscle groups instead of isolating muscles and working those out one at a time. Compound exercises are generally more functional exercises because they simulate daily movements and activities. You also engage your core often during compound exercises since balance and coordination are part of the workout. I’d say compound lifts are the quickest way to build up size and strength.
We’ve all been guilty of getting complacent and comfortable in our workouts. But you shouldn’t! This isn’t just about using different muscles, it’s also about making sure you’re not doing the same things over and over again. People often train to a point and then hit a plateau after a while because their muscles adapt to the exercises. Remember to increase resistance, sets, and reps to avoid that plateau. Mixing up your lifts and workouts will also keep you engaged with the exercise (instead of going through the motions) and challenge you. Hopefully it’ll challenge you mentally as well! As someone who has had to put on muscle many times, I’m pretty familiar with how to shift my diet and workouts to get quicker results. It usually takes me about 2 weeks to see changes. Putting on mass and maintaining it requires a lot of eating right, training right, and making sure you get enough sleep and recovery time. Think about recovery as part of your workout routine, too! It’s an important part of working on your Sport, Body, and Mind.
Since I’ve gotten back from vacation, life has been hectic. Almost as if I’m playing catch-up. Staying on track while being anxious is always a hassle for me, so I rely on a few apps to keep things simpler. These days you can pretty much track anything you want with your phone, plus listen to music (or even have a voice cheering you on) while you’re working out. Here are the top 3 apps that I use for health and fitness:
For running, which I do almost daily, I use the Nike Run Club app. Being able to easily access the data for all of your runs including maps of the routes that you’ve taken is really helpful. Most importantly for me, it helps to see the progress I’ve made over time. The app also tells you every mile you’ve run so you don’t have to check your phone for distance (surprisingly not a feature on all running apps). If you’re into guided runs, Nike offers those as well, along with challenges and other social aspects that you can get involved in. Seeing your friends’ runs can add the accountability that you need to push yourself to those goals!
For diet/nutrition, my favorite app is MyFitnessPal. They’ve got it down when it comes to presenting your diet in ways that help you stay on track, which is the biggest challenge for some people. If you’re tracking your macros like I do, MFP makes it so easy. They’ve got almost every food in their database or you can search/scan for it. If you have a smart scale that connects to the app, it can track your weight as well. There’s also a million other features to the app now, including recipes, tracking your steps, setting reminders and challenges, etc. But in my experience, keeping things SIMPLE makes it easier to keep things consistent.
There are a ton of apps available for meditation and mobility work. Whether or not you work out, mindfulness and mobility is something that everyone should be doing. I am currently working on the Trifecta app, which I use for meditation and mobility. We try to incorporate it in our workouts but to make it easily accessible for those who can’t attend classes, it’ll be in the app. Even 5-15 minutes a day dedicated to mindfulness benefits your mental health! I highly encourage it. I’ll let you know when the Trifecta app comes out!
The only thing that apps can’t do is pull you out of bed, remind you to eat healthy, or persistently prod you to sit down and meditate for a few minutes. But they do try to reward you for your accomplishments and push you to keep going, which is sometimes all you need! Remember: At the end of the day these are YOUR goals. So be consistent.
Sport. Body. Mind.
Earlier this week I talked about how compassion can play a role in working out. There’s definitely an appeal to working out with others. As you probably know, I have experience teaching both. As a personal trainer, it’s easy for me to tell someone about the benefits of private training over taking classes. It’s a question that I and even my clients get asked a lot, so I thought I’d talk about it here. Taking classes is a great way to get into something new. If you’re just starting boxing, for example, taking a class gives you a taste of what to expect going forward. Working out with others is also great for motivation when it comes to conditioning—use others as a way to push yourself and feel comfort knowing that you’re all suffering together. Camaraderie really can make your workout fun. The downsides to taking classes are that you won’t be getting undivided attention from the instructor. In some cases, that’s fine. But in boxing, form and technique matter a lot when it comes to preventing injury and seeing improvement. You also run the risk of starting out with bad habits if they’re not caught and corrected. When I teach classes, I try to catch that as much as I can and give as much instruction as possible when I see that someone is new. But I can only do so much. Private sessions, on the other hand, are all about having things explained to you when you need it. It’s your time to work on form and technique, work on whatever you’re having trouble with or wanting to improve. It’s a workout catered to you. If you don’t feel like you’re making progress on your own, a personal trainer can help you set goals and workout routines. Not to mention that having someone who’s knowledgeable about this stuff can make your life so much easier. All you have to worry about is showing up and following instructions. With boxing, having someone who knows what you need to work on and what your strengths are can make a huge difference. From what I’ve seen, people who only do classes usually cap off skill-wise after a while. Meanwhile, people who have trainers will continue to improve and learn because they have someone guiding them. The biggest deterrent that people have to personal training is cost. But it all depends on what your priorities are. Private training and classes will both push you in conditioning, but personal training can help you pick up on what you feel like you’re missing from classes. It all comes down to what your goals are and what it’s worth for you to reach them. Everyone’s needs are different. See what works for you!