When the task at hand is to build as much quality muscle mass as possible, there are two things you should look at: Your training and your nutrition.
Muscle gaining is technically a process of stimulus, followed by a period of recovery.
At its very essence, muscle gaining is just your body preparing for bigger challenges, ahead of time.
In this series of articles, we’ll take you through everything you need to know, in order to create your PERFECT muscle-building blueprint.
The first part of the series goes over one of the most important things for the goal, namely, analysing, measuring and setting up your workout.
Now let’s get to it
How to measure a workout
If you think about it, when you are in the gym, you’re working with weights…
Those weights are numbers and when we have numbers, there is a certain level of mathematics involved.
That is to say… There’s actually a mathematical formula for muscle gains!
Your workout can be measured by 3 main variables:
Intensity is a measure of how close you get to your maximum strength capabilities.
The closer you get, the higher your intensity is, meaning that it increases as your working weight goes up.
Volume is a measure of your total working weight, for all of your exercises, sets, and reps.
You can measure volume using this formula: Weight * Sets * Reps = Volume
For instance, using 100 kg for 2 sets of 10 would create a volume of 2000 kg (100*2*10=2000 kg)
Last but not least, we have density, which is a measure of your volume, related to the total time needed for its completion, including rest times.
To measure density, you use this formula: Volume / Total completion time = Density (kg per minute)
For instance, if those 2 sets of 10 with 100 kg take you 2 minutes to complete, this would be a density of 1000 kg/min.
But How Do You Measure Intensity?
Alright, so far you learned the following:
But how exactly can you measure intensity…?
Well, here comes the practical part!
To get an idea of what 100% intensity looks like for you, for a certain exercise, you have to find out the weight you can lift for one single repetition - This will show you your maximum strength capabilities.
To do this, you will use the “One repetition maximum” method.
Again, this method implies using a weight that will take your muscles to failure after one single rep, meaning that you will not be able to complete a second rep unassisted.
How to test your 1 rep max
Before we get to the actionable steps, if you are a beginner, avoid testing your one-rep max, as it may lead to injuries.
Instead, use the same scheme but go for a 5 rep max instead, where you use a weight that takes your muscles to failure at around the 5th repetition.
Here are the steps to testing your one-rep max:
This same scheme can be used by beginners for the 5 rep max method.
Why you need to know this
Alright, this important bit of information we just gave you, is part of what will allow you to create your muscle-building blueprint.
The reason why this is important is that the ratio of these variables is what will determine how the muscles work, what type of energy it uses, and thus, how it develops.
In the next article, we’ll explain to you exactly how these variables affect the way the body provides energy.
See you in part 2!
Training during the weight loss phase is one of the most important factors to consider if your goal is to lose weight healthily.
One important mention is the fact that during a period of weight loss, you lose not only fat, but lean body mass as well.
This includes muscle tissue, organ tissue, bone tissue and technically everything else except fat.
Why you SHOULD Train During Weight Loss
Carefully managing your weight loss period across the aspects of nutrition and training is essential for minimizing those lean body mass losses.
Especially when it comes to training, this is what will actually give a reason to the body to retain its muscle mass.
Think of it this way - If you use the muscles, that directly tells the body “we’re going to need this!”.
This in turn will favor muscle protein synthesis and when paired with good nutrition, it will also minimize muscle protein breakdown.
The end result? A healthier period of weight loss, during which you have increased mood and energy for all your physical and mental activities.
Now let’s see the MOST IMPORTANT considerations when approaching training.
What type of training should you choose?Generally, when it comes to training for fat loss, many people think of extensive, low-intensity cardio sessions.
And though that type of exercise helps you burn more energy and make it easier to create a caloric deficit, it is not optimal for the retention of lean body mass.
Resistance training is one of the BEST tools you can use for that purpose, but you can still add cardio sessions, after resistance training.
Overall, your goal with resistance training would be to train each muscle group once every 72-96 hours.
Now let us tell you more about the separate aspects of your workout.
Training IntensityDuring a period of weight loss, you subject yourself to a deficit of energy, meaning that you are below your body’s maintenance needs.
This lesser amount of energy implies that you might have suboptimal recovery after a workout.
However, that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t train it all, but rather, you should manage your training intensity.
Training at moderately high intensity can help you avoid suboptimal recovery and can be realized in a couple of ways:
In doing all of this, you will ensure that there is a good stimulus, but also enough energy to recover from it.
Training FrequencyWhen you workout, you practically break down muscle proteins and then, re-build them to improve the performance and appearance of your muscles.
Since recovery isn’t instant, you’d need to grant a sufficient time frame before training a given muscle group again.
This would generally be around 48-96 hours, which would allow for good recovery and increased performance.
Besides training intensity and frequency, you also have to consider the number of sets and repetitions that you’ll be doing for each body part.
For the general trainee, doing 5+ challenging working sets per muscle group trained in a workout, is the best approach, given that you exercise each muscle group twice a week.
The widely accepted effective training volume forms at 10-20 working sets, per muscle group, per week.
Of course, if you are a beginner or intermediate, you will be in the lower range of that spectrum.
The more you advance, the more you increase sets, reps, and weight.
When To Train?Alright, you have a workout plan in place but what is actually the best time to train when the goal is losing fat?
Will fasted training in the morning maybe produce more results?
Well, at equated caloric deficits, training timing won’t make a big impact on total amount of fat lost, HOWEVER…
The more energy you have available before a workout, the better you will perform and thus, the better the end result will be.
Furthermore, your body runs a biological cycle that is intricately connected with the Day & Night cycle of the Earth.
As light goes through your eyes, it gives a signal to the brain, which in turn releases serotonin.
Serotonin makes you feel awake, alert & energized.
By afternoon, you would already be a couple of meals into your day (plenty of energy), and will have a good amount of serotonin produced.
If you look closely, the period between 2 and 5 pm is when you feel most alert and active.
Using resistance training as a tool to optimize your fat loss process, is one of the best practices for any individual looking to get fit.
Your workouts should consist of a good number of challenging working sets, that should not be taken to failure, due to the fact you are in an energy deficit.
Ultimately, your best bet would be to do these workouts in the afternoon, but this can be adjusted to your schedule.
Combining an adequate approach to training & nutrition will allow you to create sustainable results, that will give you health in your older years.
Click hereIf the question at hand is losing fat and keeping it off, most people would search for an easy solution, such as a weight loss pill or a promising program a famous coach made for everyone.
The truth however is that an approach like this more often leads to eating disorders and loss of motivation, rather than sustainable results.
Think of it this way - Your body is a machine and its YOUR responsibility to understand how that machine functions and what you can do to maintain it.
In this article, we’ll give you the best tips you can use in your daily life to start cutting weight (and keeping it off).
The Modern-Day Problem
Humans have existed for hundreds and thousands of years and for most of that time, we as a species have gone through starvation.
Starvation is something the body knows very well and that is the reason why it can go through metabolic adaptations, which allow it to survive on little to no resource.
And here comes the big but…
It’s only been the past 30 years of human existence (out of 200,000+), that we’ve had such easy access to a multitude of foods.
Furthermore, those foods, many of which are bad, can be delivered right to your door, without having you do anything else besides standing up to pick up your delivery.
If we follow that train of thought, we can conclude that the modern-day lifestyle is quite literally, fattening!
At its very core, it robs you of movement and gives you a ton of junk food to choose from.
What we’re trying to tell you here is that the very first steps you should take towards your weight loss journey, is to take care of your physical activity levels, as well as your nutrition
Fat Loss 101The fundamental principle of weight loss is referred to as “eating in a caloric deficit”.
This essentially means giving the body a lesser amount of energy (food) than it needs to sustain its body weight.
What this means for you is that the primary factor for weight loss is the AMOUNT OF FOOD and not so much the type of food. (Yes, you can lose weight with burgers.)
Now, the amount of energy you need daily to maintain your body weight and bodily functions, is referred to as “Total daily energy expenditure (TDEE)”.
Your TDEE is individual and it depends on the following factors:
Quite simply, if you consume more than your TDEE, you will gain weight.
If you consume less than your TDEE you will lose weight and if you’re around your TDEE, no massive changes in weight will be observed.
You can calculate your own TDEE using this weight loss calculator - https://www.traininginthebay.com/macro-calculator/
NOTE: No TDEE calculator is 100% accurate so don’t take these results for granted - Monitor your progress and adjust along the way.
MacronutrientsNow, though you can eat any food on a diet and still lose weight, the choice of food sources is important.
During a period of weight loss, you lose not only fat but also lean body mass (LBM).
In order to avoid a biological disaster, you MUST do everything possible to retain that lean body mass.
The first thing is to secure a moderate caloric deficit, made up of complete, nutritious food sources with sufficient amounts of protein and fats.
The second thing is to secure enough energy (carbohydrates) for good training sessions.
Finally, you have to make sure that your rate of weight loss is adequate, at around 1-2 lbs per week - This will ensure that most of the weight you lost is fat.
Not only that but with a moderate deficit, you will still be able to sustain the healthy functioning of your body and you will also have enough energy for any daily activities.
So to put it simply - If you are in a moderate deficit and primarily eat nutritious foods and train well, you will be able to retain most of your lean body mass and your energy levels will be high.
In terms of quantities, this is how you can spread your macros across the nutrition plan:
Protein (4 calories per gram) - 0.8-1g per lb of body weight.
Fat (9 calories per gram) - 0.35-0.45g per lb of body weight.
Carbohydrates (4 calories per gram) should make up the remaining caloric intake.
Keeping the weight off
Alright, so we now know that a moderate deficit that favors nutrient dense-foods is the best way to sustainable fat loss.
But how do you actually keep the weight off?
The majority of people who go on a diet, re-gain 100% or more of their weight back in twice as less time as it took them to actually lose it...
And this is the EXACT reason why you shouldn’t think of your diet as something that has a start and end date.
It is a healthy habit that you should create and keep with you for the rest of your life, in order to meet the needs of your organism.
If you want to keep the weight off, after you’ve hit your goals, do the following:
Additionally, throughout the period of eating at a caloric deficit, you should resort to diet breaks every 2-3 weeks.
This essentially means going back to maintenance calories and what this will do is it will help you keep your metabolism up, making the whole process more bearable.
Losing your fluff and keeping it off starts at the very fundamentals of what you put in your body.
To achieve sustainable weight loss, you must resort to a moderate caloric deficit and nutrient-dense foods.
Remember this should not be a drastic, quick process but rather a gradual change in time.
In the second part of this article series, we’ll tell you more about training and how you can use it to speed up your fat loss and keep the body healthy.
Most men are scared of aging but if you do the right things, you won’t “get older” but you’ll rather age well like fine wine.
Naturally, as men age, testosterone levels go down and that leads to a change in the mental and physical state.
In this article, we’ll reveal the benefits of training into your older years and tell you exactly how you can approach this, in order to reap long-lasting benefits.
Why You SHOULD Train In Your Older Years
“I don’t train, I’m already old and the results are way slower than they would if I had started young…”.
This is one of the most common excuses you hear from men over 40, which they use to justify the lack of movement in their life.
Well, though this is a common belief, the fact of the matter is that while the response may not be as prominent, training is still a good stimulus regardless of age.
Whether you’re 15, 25, or 40+, including certain types of training in your lifestyle, will increase your health and improve the overall quality of life.
More specifically, strength training has been proven to be a good anti-aging tool, which helps maintain normal testosterone levels.
So again - You’re helping your body as time goes by and by maintaining it, you bring a healthy, functional, good-looking body into your older years.
What Training Should You Do?
When it comes to training, it is a fact that exercise relies on principles, which makes the end result predictable.
There are different types of training which in turn, bring different end results, so let’s analyze the most common types of training you can take on.
The goal of training is to usually get the best out of it, whether we’re talking about how you look, perform or feel.
After 40, it is likely that you won’t be after a competitive sports career, so naturally, you’d be more inclined to do training that focuses on overall development and wellbeing.
Strength training is the type of training you should focus on if your goal is to:
As we already mentioned, strength training is literally the fountain of youth for men over 40.
This is due to the fact that this type of training causes a strong anabolic (constructive) response in the body, making it a nourishing activity for practically your entire body and mood.
With strength training, you will observe improvements in strength & strength endurance, muscular tone, overall mood, sex drive, and overall athleticism.
As an adult man, this is the type of training you should primarily focus on.
Low-intensity, prolonged sessions are referred to as “cardio” and are the type of activity that most often comes to mind when you think of “training”.
This type of training has its benefits, which are primarily expressed in the increased efficiency of your heart & lungs.
Cardio training is the type of training you should go for if you’re looking to:
The thing about prolonged cardio is that it causes the release of cortisol, which in turn may lower testosterone levels.
This is why it is recommended to do some cardio but not too much and instead, focus most of your energy on your strength training sessions.
Cardio is optimally done after strength training, for 20-40 minutes at a moderate pace.
Including regular cardio in your routine may improve muscle tone, overall health & mood.
Frequently Asked QuestionsWhat we said above is very generic and it just displays the benefits of different types of training you can do.
Now let’s get a little more specific and dig into the details which can help you set up a training plan.
#1 What type of strength exercises should I do?The goal with strength training is to create a stimulus that is as prominent as possible.
Compound exercises that involve more than 1 joint and muscle group at a time, are your best choice, whether you’re a young or adult male.
These are exercises like squats, deadlifts, bench presses, overhead presses, pull-ups, dips and other dumbbell, barbell & kettlebell exercises.
Such movements will allow you to lift significantly heavier weights, due to the greater amount of muscle fibers engaged.
This will therefore create a greater stimulus & biological response but then again, you shouldn’t lift too heavy, as you want to sustain this performance and avoid injury.
#2 How many sets and reps should I do?The question of sets and reps is controversial and you can easily get misinformed but the fact of the matter is that the number of sets and reps depends on the goal you want to achieve.
You want to increase your maximal strength? Focus on 1-5 reps (powerlifting range)
You want to create the most visually appealing physique? Focus on 5-15 reps (bodybuilding range).
Ultimately, your best bet would be to combine both the powerlifting & bodybuilding range, as that will allow you to stimulate the muscles across all their properties (strength, strength endurance, explosiveness, etc.)
As to the number of sets, it is generally best to start off at 5+ working sets per muscle group per week (as a beginner) and increase that number as you progress, up to 10-20+ challenging sets.
#3 How often should I train?When you workout, you do micro damage to your muscles and so, you need to carefully manage your recovery between workouts, in order to perform at your best from workout to workout.
Generally for strength training, optimal recovery comes around the 48th-96th hour after training.
Basically, you should train each muscle group again, when it is at its peak recovery state (48th-96th hr after a workout).
Think of it this way - Since your performance declines after a certain point in your workout, it is best to do 2 workouts with 5 working sets, rather than 1 workout with 10 sets.
Why? Because it would realize a greater total working volume (total amount of weight lifted) and thus, create a more powerful stimulus for the body.
#4 What type of cardio training should I do?Cardio is a great tool to use for recovery, unwinding and relaxation when you’re not in the gym lifting weights.
This type of training implies a low-intensity, prolonged training session and there are MANY such activities.
We’d advise you to avoid limiting your cardio to just the treadmill.
Instead, do some running outside, ride your bicycle, do some swimming, some rope jumping or even some quick walking.
These activities are best done after strength training or on your off days.
If your goals primarily resonate with what strength training provides as an end result, you shouldn’t do too much cardio, as it may rob you of the energy for your strength workouts.
#5 How often should I do cardio?
The last sentence of point number 4 brings us to this question but the thing is… There is no definitive answer.
But we can say this for sure - If you are primarily looking for increases in strength, strength endurance, muscular tone & testosterone production, overdoing cardio can be suboptimal.
We’d generally recommend doing 2-4 cardio sessions per week, lasting ~40 minutes.
These are done after your strength workouts, or on days when you don’t go to the gym.
We are not completely signing cardio off, as it is highly beneficial for the heart, lungs and your overall health.
It can even be used as a great tool to recover from strength workouts.
All we’re saying is - If you do a lot of cardio, make sure you’re also eating more nutrient-rich, whole foods that provide all nutrients to the body.
You’ll need that energy!
As men age, testosterone levels naturally decline and so, training can be used as a tool to mitigate the effects of getting older and help you age like fine wine.
If you’re an adult male, you should primarily focus on strength training, taking on compound, heavy exercises that engage more muscles at once.
The exertion should be moderately high and hard failure must not be reached too often, as that may increase the chance of injury or physical burnout.
Ultimately, you should be looking to mix strength & cardio training, along with recovery practices like stretching & massages.
Think of it as using the body every day and doing some activity regularly, even if it’s for 15-30 minutes only.
Movement is energy and so, if you want an optimally-functioning body as an adult, you should do your best to keep your body active & healthy, through training and nutrition.
Click here to edThe weight scale is perhaps one of the most common tools which people use to monitor & judge their fitness progress.
However, more often than not, it is something that can actually leave you frustrated and totally kill your motivation.
The scale is in fact the single most powerful mood-shifter!
And though your weight is one of the important variables to track, whether you are losing or gaining weight, it does not really give you an idea of the bigger picture.
This is exactly why it should not be the primary merit of progress, whatever your goal is.
In this article, we are going to explain the other, important things you should keep track of and how to actually use the scale so you can make it a functional part of your plan.
Now let’s get to it!
Does Your Weight Matter?
Now, surely, the scale has its applications on your way to a healthier body, which is why we are not telling you to completely give up on using it.
Even more so, your weight is a very important variable when it comes to calculating your daily calories, macronutrient needs, or even the intake of certain supplements, which are based on the individual’s weight.
And though that stands true, we will say it again - The number on the scale MUST NOT be your ONLY merit of progress.
There are many other things that you should keep track of, while also utilizing the scale to the best extent possible, without letting it crush your mood.
The Scale & What It Does NOT Show
Okay, think about it - Can one single number really show you everything there is to know about your fitness?
Is this number everything you really need to determine whether or not you are fit enough?
Well it may be, but ONLY if you are an athlete who’s looking to get into their weight division come competition day.
For the general population, weight should only represent a small percentage of the things we judge progress on.
It is a fact that the scale cannot show you things such as:
All of the above are far more important metrics of progress and if you only rely on the number that the scale shows, you are in for some massive disappointments.
HOWEVER, if you weigh yourself correctly and relate the change in weight to other parameters, such as the ones from above, you will have a much more realistic idea of your progress.
How To Use The Scale (The Right Way)
If you want to make your weight scale a viable tool on your fitness journey, rather than something that will shake your beliefs and motivation, PLEASE use these tips below:
Whenever you get a weight in, make sure it is IN THE MORNING, before eating, after going to the toilet and with just underwear.
THIS is your true weight!
If you weigh yourself on the same day, at the same time, before eating anything and after going to the bathroom, you will get the most accurate reading possible.
Otherwise, you risk weighing the food you took in, the water you drank, the fluids you retained, etc.
For the goal of sustainable weight loss and maintenance of lean body mass (lbm), you have to lose no more than 1-2 lbs a week.
If your true reading shows a loss greater than 2 lbs for the week, don’t be afraid to bump up the calories slightly.
If on the other hand, the reading shows an insignificant loss of weight, decrease calories slightly.
Oppositely, if you are trying to gain weight, aim for no more than 0.5-1 lbs a week.
This will allow you to avoid any unnecessary fat gains and thus, take less time to shred down afterward.
If you narrow everything down to the number on the scale… You’re in for disappointments.
Whenever you get a reading on the scale, whatever it is, set goals for your strength, endurance, visual look, mood, energy, etc, etc.
This will help keep you motivated and also, will give you a different perspective on the bigger picture.
Though your weight is an important variable when determining progress, setting up & adjusting a diet, it is NOT the only thing you should narrow your progress down to.
The scale does not show more important things like body composition, strength levels, mood, and more importantly, how you actually look.
Ultimately, your best bet is to monitor your progress on all variables possible, to ultimately determine whether your work is paying off well or your plan needs adjustments.
In the previous part of this article series, we gave you actionable tips on how to integrate training into a busy schedule.
However, setting up your training regimen is just half the battle and if it is not supported by a proper nutrition plan, then all your hard work will be in vain.
This is why, in this article, we’re going to tell you exactly how you can create sustainable nutrition habits, which you can adhere to.
What is Meal Prep & Why and How You Should Do It
Meal prepping is without a doubt one of the most efficient ways to ensure you’ll get all your nutrients in.
This method will save you time and money and will also give your body EVERYTHING needed to sustain healthy functioning, as well as any daily physical and mental activities.
At its very core, meal prepping implies cooking for a couple of days ahead, all at once.
This is a very flexible approach, as it allows you to prepare certain foods in bulk, which you can then use to create a variety of recipes.
Step #1 - Choose your Protein & Fat sources
As you should know by now, protein & fats are essential to the body, as they regulate a variety of vital processes, including but not limited to recovery, healthy functioning of all bodily systems and tissues, regulating hormonal function, etc.
If any of the 2 is in a deficit, you may experience unpleasant side effects, such as premature exhaustion, constant tiredness, brain fogs and disrupted sleep cycles.
This is why it is a good idea to pick out your protein & fat sources in the first place.
If you’re an omnivore, animal products should be your main protein & fat sources, as they contain all essential amino acids & fatty acids.
Essential basically means those are nutrients the body needs for optimal health, but can’t produce on its own.
This means that most of your daily protein will come from foods like chicken, beef, eggs, fish, prawns, cheese, and other dairy products.
If however, you are a vegetarian or a vegan, you are best off combining different grains, beans, and other legumes, to get the full amino acid profile.
Step #2 - Choose Your Carbohydrate Sources
Now, protein and fats are essential for the body but the fact of the matter is that carbohydrates aren’t really the same.
Though they are the preferred energy source for the body, they are non-essential, since the body can produce glucose via a process called “gluconeogenesis”.
And though that stands true, it is always a good idea to get your daily carbohydrates in, especially if you are an active individual.
The best sources of carbohydrates are all grains, beans, legumes & other wholegrain products.
These will grant a consistent, gradual flow of energy to the body, to meet all its energy needs for physical and mental activities.
We recommend white & brown rice, sweet potatoes, oats, starchy vegetables & fruits.
Step #3 - What about micronutrients
Besides protein and fat, most micronutrients are also essential to the body, as it needs them to regulate certain processes.
However, if you rely on diverse nutrition and include plenty of different products in your menu, you don’t really need to pay specific attention to micronutrients.
That is unless of course, you have certain micronutrient deficiencies, at which case your best bet is to consult with your doctor.
Step #4 - Cook in bulk!
Once you’ve picked out your favorite protein, fat & carbohydrate sources, it is time to cook!
For the meats, you can use basic marinade - Soy sauce, salt & pepper.
Once that’s done, you’ll have ~2-3 lbs of meat all cooked and ready.
For your grains and root crops, you can use basic seasoning and preparation.
Once that’s done, you’ll have a solid amount of carbohydrates ready on demand.
Since these are prepared in a very basic way, you can use them as a BASE to add upon.
And so for example, you can take some of the pre-cooked meat and toss it in a pre-heated pan with some vegetables, glazes & other spices.
The same goes for your carb sources, meaning that you can craft a variety of recipes and bring diversity to your nutrition, even though you cook the same foods every time.
Again, these are just your bases for meals and you can furthermore add vegetables, dried tomatoes, olives, capers and any other side products you may like.
Step #5 - Enjoy your food & time
Most people think that cooking your own food is time & money-consuming, but the truth is that it really is just the opposite of that.
Home prepped food is ALWAYS cheaper and takes less total time…
On top of that, developing this healthy habit will actually GIVE YOU more time on this precious planet.
So, what is it you can lose with meal prepping? Nothing, really.
In the modern-day, busy daily lifestyle, eating healthily can often be a difficult task for many people.
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I have been weight training, running and cycling for 37 years and I have gained a vast amount of experience in fitness both as a Soldier in The British Army and in the past 21 years having been involved in the fitness industry.