Top 8 Health Benefits of Exercise

If you are like most people, you probably know that exercise can help you lose weight. You might even know that exercise can improve heart and cardiovascular functioning. But exercise is responsible for so much more than just losing weight and improving heart health.

Making exercise part of your daily routine has health benefits ranging from improved sleep, reduced stress, and even years added to your life. Here are 8 amazing things that will happen when you start incorporating regular exercise into your daily life!

1) Increased Happiness

Man smiling at Ipad feeling happy

Everyone wants to be happy, and luckily, exercise can help you. Studies have shown that exercise increases the production of endorphins, the tiny chemicals that are known to produce positive feelings in the brain and reduce the perception of pain. This results in feelings of happiness and therefore a better mood.

Starting your day off with an early morning workout can be the difference between a great day and a terrible day. Many people report feeling happier, satisfied, and more relaxed after a workout. Any type of exercise will produce these feelings, but those on a regular exercise program, and those that increased the exercise intensity, were shown to feel even better and happier.

2) Reduced Stress

Stress relief sign, exercise

Stress is a result of challenging and often frustrating situations in your everyday life. Fortunately, exercise has been shown to reduce stress immediately, as well as reducing baseline stress levels in the long-term. Many people report feeling less angry and irritable after a workout, often using exercise as a positive distraction from daily stressors.

If you are using exercise to deal with everyday stress, you need to know when the best time to exercise is for you. A morning workout has an early positive effect on your mood and prepares you for the day’s stressors. A mid-day workout can serve as a break and allows you to reduce your stress for the rest of the day. And an evening, or late night, workout will reduce your stress and tension before going to bed, allowing you to have a better night’s rest.

3) Improved Sleep

Man jumping into bed mid-air

If you are having issues sleeping at night, possibly tossing and turning for hours, start exercising regularly. Many people report falling asleep faster, having longer periods of deep sleep, and feeling more rested in the morning after exercising. The immediate effect of exercise is the depletion of energy reserves. This stimulates the body’s healing process overnight and results in deeper and better sleep.

The long-term impact of exercise on sleep is through reduction in stress, anxiety and depression. All of these health issues are linked with sleep deprivation and occasionally insomnia which obviously negatively impact your sleep cycle. Sleeping better by itself also results in a host of positive health benefits.

4) Reduced Anxiety & Depression

Sad and depressed man sitting on log

As mentioned before, exercise is linked with positive moods and feelings of self-worth, satisfaction, confidence, and happiness. Anxiety and depression refer to individuals with negative moods and feelings of worry, self-doubt, uncertainty, and hopelessness.

As you can probably see, the positive effects of exercise and the symptoms of anxiety and depression look like complete opposites. Regular exercise is linked with reductions in anxiety and mild to moderate depression. Exercise can instill feelings of self-worth and confidence which lowers anxiety and helps to lift people out of depression. Better sleep due to exercise also has as secondary positive effect on anxiety and depression.

5) Increased Strength, Flexibility & Bone Health

Shirtless man putting on belt in the gym

While many guys move towards exercise to get big, hypertrophy is not the only benefit of exercising. A well-rounded exercise program incorporates both strength and stabilization training. Stabilization, or flexibility training, results in improved handling of everyday tasks, improved blood circulation, and improved joint range of motion while strength training is responsible for increased muscle mass, self-confidence, and bone health and density.

Resistance training is highly recommended in at least some form due to its positive long-term impact on bone health. It has been shown that weight-bearing exercises put extra stress on the muscles and bones. This stress causes your muscles to adapt to the stress, and your bones to stay strong and healthy. These effects then help prevent muscle loss and osteoporosis as you age.

6) Improved Heart & Cardiovascular Health

Man holding out heart with pulse

Nowadays everyone is sitting down. Whether its because you’re working on the computer at work, watching tv, driving, or playing video games, the majority of your time is spent sitting down behind a screen or the wheel. This epidemic is having dramatic negative effects on posture, but more importantly, cardiovascular health. Only 20% of all Americans get the recommended 2.5 hours exercise per week, while certain populations get almost no exercise at all. This is causing major health issues such as cardiac arrest, obesity, diabetes, and more, all of which could be prevented by regularly exercising.

Regular exercise improves your cardiovascular health by lowering your blood pressure, reducing plague buildup in the heart and arteries, lowering blood pressure, and boosting high-density lipoproteins (HDL), also known as good cholesterol. All of these effects together make your heart more efficient.

7) Improved Body Composition

Man using ropes for exercise on the beach

Building off the previous point, over 30% of Americans are currently struggling with obesity, and the majority of these cases are a result of inactivity and overeating. When engaging in physical activity, you burn calories. The more intense the exercise, the more calories you burn over the course of your workout. Burning fewer calories than are being consumed results in weight loss and doing it under the supervision of an expert results in mostly fat being lost.

It is recommended that every adult gets at least 150 minutes of cardio and strength training per week, this is about 30 minutes per day (not including the weekend). Improved body composition will have tremendous positive effects. Not only will your body become healthier, everyday tasks will become easier, your self-image and body-image will improve, and you will feel better and happier.

8) Live longer

Happy man looking out on the sunset with happiness

Exercise has incredible positive health effects ranging from better sleep to being less prone to cardiovascular disease. All together these positive effects result in a better, happier, and longer life. It has been shown that 150 minutes of weekly exercise can increase your lifespan by 3.4 years while doubling the exercise results in adding over 4.2 years to your life!

On the other hand, obesity and inactivity reduces your lifespan by over 7 years. If you used to be obese and inactive, but then decide to exercise and lose the weight, you’re looking at almost 11 years being added to your life. All it takes is 30-60 minutes of daily exercise, and I’d say that’s worth it!

From making you happier, to adding years to your life, regular exercise is incredibly beneficial to your long-term health. But however beneficial exercise might be, the majority of people will not exercise if they are not enjoying it. Fortunately, there are hundreds of different styles of exercise. From resistance training by yourself to finding new friends in exciting classes, there is a style of exercise for everyone. The best exercise plan is the one you can stick to, so find what works for you and stick with it!

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Top 6 Supplements for Building Muscle

Strength athletes and bodybuilders are always on the lookout for the next best supplement that can drive their performance to the max. Supplement companies pump out dozens if not hundreds of new products a year. Unfortunately, most supplements have absolutely no effect. As Dr. Ron Maughan states: “If it works, it’s probably banned. If it’s not banned, it probably doesn’t work.”

Fortunately, there are a few supplements out there which have plenty of research backing their positive effects on health and performance. These aren’t going to be your overly marketed, useless testosterone boosters, but instead, these products help supplement an already healthy diet.

1) Protein Powder

Man drinking Protein Shake
Designed by freepic.diller/Freepik.com

Protein is the essential macro nutrient necessary for building muscle mass. Unfortunately, many individuals find it difficult to consume enough protein through whole food sources. In that case, a simple protein shake with water or milk is a perfect way to supplement their diet.

There are several types of protein supplements on the market, but the most popular choices are whey protein and casein protein. Whey protein is the number one choice when it comes to athletes and bodybuilders. Whey protein is quickly digested and is therefore often combined with simple carbs as a post-workout shake. This allows for quick resorption of lost nutrients and jumpstarts the healing process. Casein on the other hand digests a lot slower and is therefore often consumed right before going to bed. This allows for a constant stream of protein into the body to continue the healing process overnight.

2) Creatine

Creatine is naturally produced by animals and humans. Its stored in the muscles and used to generate ATP during exercise. ATP is then used by the muscles as energy for muscle contraction. Creatine is found in lots of meats, but in such small amounts that a supplement is often needed. Supplementing with creatine allows more creatine to be stored in the muscles, allowing your muscles to fatigue slower, which results in more strength, reps and sets.

Creatine usually comes in a powder, either contained in a capsule or simply in a large tub, akin to that of a protein powder tub. There are several ways to supplement with creatine, but typically one would have a loading phase followed by a maintenance phase. To load up on creatine you use about 15-20g of creatine per day for 5-7 days. You then follow that up with a maintenance period wherein you use about 2-5g of creatine daily to maintain muscle creatine levels.

For more information, check out the article Bodybuilding.com has on creatine supplementation!

3) Fish Oil

Fish Oil Supplement Pills

Fish oil is as simple as it sounds, it’s oil derived from oily fish tissue such as mackerel, sardine, and salmon. Fish oil contains omega-3 fatty acids which aids to keep the body healthy but also helps with weight loss and muscle growth. Overtime, athletes and bodybuilders tend to develop inflammation in the joints or suffer overuse injuries. Omega-3 fats found in fish oil help reduce the inflammation, allowing for faster recovery and therefore more time in the gym.

In addition to the muscle growth benefits, fish oil also lowers Low Density Lipoprotein (LDL) levels, burns fat, and reduces the risk of cardiovascular and heart disease. Fish oil is a supplement everyone can benefit from, but especially if you are health-conscious.

4) Multi-Vitamin

Bodybuilders and athletes tend to plan their meals and prepare their meals in one large batch. This often results in eating the same foods day in and day out. This can sometimes lead to micro nutrient deficiencies which can range from slight fatigue to precursors of terrible diseases such as scurvy and osteoporosis. Fortunately, there is a way to keep on meal prepping while avoiding micro nutrient deficiencies all together: multi-vitamin supplementation.

A good, high-quality multi-vitamin contains all micro nutrients your body requires in the appropriate, recommended doses. This allows your body to keep functioning at its peak, allowing you to keep on building muscle. Make sure you follow the recommended servings, because over-consumption of micro nutrients could also lead to problems, such as nausea and liver damage.

5) Caffeine

Caffeine in Coffee beans

Everyone has those days where they just aren’t feeling it, whether it was a bad night’s rest, bad day at work, or you’re simply exhausted. It’s finally time for the gym but you have the feeling its not going to go well. This is where caffeine comes into play. Taking 3-6mg of caffeine per kg of bodyweight about an hour before exercise has been proven to effectively raise energy levels, delay muscle fatigue, and increase motivation.

While caffeine will help aid you in the short term by giving you an energy boost when feeling down, caffeine alone will not magically increase muscle mass. Unfortunately, caffeine is not all positives. Caffeine dehydrates your body, requiring you to drink more water than normal. It is also important to note that prolonged use of caffeine can result in headaches, rapid heart rate, and if used in large doses, insomnia. It is recommended to only use caffeine when absolutely necessary, and to not become dependent on caffeine for a good workout.

6) Pre-Workout

Pre-workout is kind of a combination of a few of the supplements mentioned above. A pre-workout blend tends to contain caffeine to give you a large boost in energy, creatine to maximize muscle creatine levels, and BCAA’s (branch-chain amino acids) to help with protein synthesis and prevent muscle breakdown. Quick note, the reason BCAA’s themselves are not on the list is because all animal protein, as well as the majority of protein supplements, contain most, if not all, BCAA’s necessary for proper protein synthesis.

Consuming all these supplements together, about 30 minutes before a workout will prime your muscles for exercise. This gives you an extra boost to crank out a few more reps and sets, which over-time aids in more muscle growth.

Marketers use fancy language and misquoted studies to promote and sell hundreds of supplements, most of which are, at best, completely useless, and at worst, potentially harmful. The few supplements you should spend your money on do not focus on hormonal changes, magical muscle growth, or tremendous fat loss in a short time. Worthwhile supplements focus on improving your health altogether while filling in the gaps in an already healthy diet.

Before spending any of your money on supplements make sure you are not making any of these detrimental muscle building mistakes! And if you’ve made excellent muscle gains and are ready to get ripped, check out these easy tips to sticking with your diet!

What supplements do you use most often? Let me know in the comments!

 

Top 11 Unhealthy Foods You Need to Cut Out of Your Diet to Lose Weight

Losing weight is almost always an uphill battle. You’re struggling to fight your habitual lifestyle while going against every natural cue your body is giving you. In the past I have gone over tips and tricks to stick to your diet, but what exactly should you be cutting from your current diet?

Losing weight is about calories-in versus calories-out, and therefore you want to cut out as many unnecessary calories from your diet as possible. Stick with whole foods and get rid of the junk, your body will thank you!

1) Soda

Pepsi Cola Soda

Soda, pop, soft drinks, whatever you call them, they are absolutely loaded with sugars and provide zero nutritional value. A single can of soda can have up to 45 grams of sugar which is almost 200 calories. In addition to that, your brain won’t register it as food and as a result you will still be hungry for more.

2) White Rice

White rice is made by processing brown rice and stripping away its husk. Unfortunately, this process also removes the majority of the rice’s nutrients and fiber. White rice is therefore a lot easier to digest and serves more as a quick insulin spike rather than a filling and nutritious carbohydrate. Instead go with brown rice which takes a lot longer to digest and still offers plenty of nutrients and fiber to your body.

3) Alcohol

Variety of alcoholic drinks

If you are serious about losing weight you must cut out alcohol, or at a minimum, drastically reduce your consumption. An average 12-ounce beer is about 150 calories, and an average night of drinking will set you back at least 5 beers. That is 750 calories just from beer. Vodka, whiskey, and tequila are just as bad with around 100 calories per shot. Do yourself a favor and curb the booze for a while.

4) Fruit Juice

Everyone’s heard the myth that fruit juices are the healthiest drinks available. Unfortunately, this is a complete lie. They are loaded with sugars, sometimes even more so than a can of soda. Fruit’s biggest benefit comes from fiber, but a glass of juice offers none of that. Many juices are even made from extract which offers very little nutrients but contains a lot of sugar.

5) Granola

Granola clusters with berries

With its whole grains and oats, granola looks like it would be the perfect complex carbohydrate for your diet, but a closer look will tell otherwise. These desirable granola clusters are chock-full of honey and sugars to keep them sticking together. A single serving of granola is ½ a cup but offers nowhere near as much substance as ½ a cup of rolled oats would. You will be hungry a lot faster and crave even more sugar during the rest of your day.

6) Sugary Cereal

Breakfast cereal is made from processed grains, a ton of sugar, and a very small amount of fortified nutrients. Serving sizes are often small and not filling, making it easy to overeat and ingest a lot more calories than you expected. In addition, the simple carbohydrates in cereal are easily digested. Instead make yourself a bowl of rolled oats or find a fiber-rich cereal with a low sugar content.

7) Dried Fruit

Variety of dried fruits

Fruit is great because of its substance and nutrients. You most likely won’t eat a couple of whole mangoes in one sitting, but dried fruit is completely different. By drying out the fruit it loses its water substance. As a result, you can mindlessly eat 5 whole mangoes and consume 5 times the amount of sugar. This will spike your blood sugar levels and then crash them right back down, resulting in cravings for even more sugar.

8) Salad Dressings

Ordering a salad instead of a burger is a great way to lose weight, but a salad can go easily go from healthy to horrible. Casually sprinkling salad dressing all over your salad can actually give your salad more calories than a burger. These dressings are loaded with fats and sugars and won’t make you feel any fuller. Instead, try a store-bought or homemade vinaigrette to lightly drizzle over your salad.

9) Pasta

Spaghetti pasta with sauce and leaf

Just like white rice, regular and refined pasta had most its nutrients and fiber stripped away. When you factor in the sauce and other toppings, you’re looking at very calorie dense food that won’t keep you full for very long. However, if you do really want to eat pasta, go for a protein enriched or whole grain variety. These will still be very calorie dense, but will at least keep you full for quite a while.

10) French Fries & Potato Chips

It’s simple, anything fried in unhealthy, processed oil should stay out of your diet. Fries and potato chips are some of the most unhealthy snacks imaginable. Not only are potatoes simple carbs, but these snacks are usually fried in mass produced and processed vegetable oils. Simply cut it out entirely. If you are craving potatoes or fries, buy sweet potatoes and instead of frying them, bake them in the oven yourself.

11) Candy

Variety of candy

Candy bars, chocolate, candy pieces, they’re all pure sugar. The calories are through the roof and none of them offer any nutritional value. Simply cut it out completely. If you’re craving sugar or something sweet, buy fruit. Kiwis, oranges, and strawberries are all great options to quickly satisfy your cravings for sugar.

In the end, losing weight is about energy balance. As long as your body burns more calories than it consumes, you will lose weight. Therefore, cutting out junk food and unnecessary and empty calories is the easiest way to start losing weight quickly.

What foods did you cut out of your diet to start losing weight? Let me know in the comments!

If you’re done losing weight and are ready to start packing on serious muscle, check out my post on the most effective muscle building foods. Adding these 8 foods will surely bring in the gains!

Top 6 Most Important Gym Etiquette Rules

The gym hosts a variety of people, from long-time gym rats to new-year new-me newbies. But regardless of your gym experience, it is vital that you are aware of proper gym etiquette.

Gyms usually won’t inform you on what you should or shouldn’t be doing. At most, the gym will hang signs next to the water fountains or disinfectant sprays stating you should wipe down the equipment and re-rack your weights.

Unfortunately, many gymgoers don’t adhere to these rules. They toss the weights around the gym and leave sweaty equipment for the next guy. For those who are new to the gym, or those who have been shamed for their wrong behavior, I have compiled a list of 6 essential gym rules. Follow these rules to better yourself and give everyone in the gym a pleasant experience!

1) Clean Up After Yourself

Clean up after yourself

No one wants to start of their workout by wiping down a bench and un-racking 315 pounds. Cleaning up after yourself means wiping down and disinfecting the equipment after you’re done using it, and re-racking any weights or dumbbells you used during your workout.

This allows others to jump right into their workout without having to clean up your mess first. You also end up helping the staff by allowing them to go home earlier at the end of the day.

2) Check Your Ego at the Door

Stop doing that

There is nothing worse than seeing a young guy coming into the gym with his bros, making a b-line to the bench press, loading up double the amount of weight that they can handle, and then proceeding to quarter rep the bar while the others cheer him on.

This type of behavior is extremely annoying for everyone else in the gym and will build absolutely zero muscle mass. Instead, check your ego at the door and only load up as much weight as you can handle with proper form and range of motion. This will allow for proper muscle fiber recruitment and won’t piss off everybody else.

3) Offer to Spot Others

Spot other members

It’s impossible to always have a training partner to spot you during your workout. If you see a fellow gymgoer who looks a bit unsure of himself going into the next set, don’t be afraid to ask if they need a spotter. Who knows, maybe you will make a friend and have a training partner in the future!

In the same vein, don’t hesitate to ask for a spot if another gymgoer looks like they’re resting or unoccupied. I would much rather spend a minute spotting someone than helping to lift a barbell off someone’s neck or chest. It’s all a matter of safety and helping out your fellow gymgoers.

4) Don’t Interrupt a Set

Bicep Curls

I get it, sometimes the gym gets overcrowded and all your favorite equipment is in use. It’s completely acceptable to ask fellow gymgoers to work in or ask them how many sets they have left, but just make sure they are not in the middle of a set when you do so. They will also be much more likely to say yes if you wait until they’re done with their set!

Another thing to look out for is giving enough space to others in the middle of their set. Lifting safely requires you to focus 100% on the exercise, and having some clown walk right next to you in the middle of a squat or deadlift will throw you off resulting in a less than optimal set, or possibly an injury. So, don’t be that clown.

5) Don’t Break Equipment

Gym Equipment

Dropping weights is loud and distracting, but that isn’t the main reason why most gyms won’t allow you to do it. Most machines and complex equipment have many smaller parts that can easily break, and weights not specifically created for Olympic lifts, such as bumper plates, are not designed to be dropped every set or rep.

Dropping weights puts extra stress on the equipment, requiring more maintenance or quicker replacement for parts. This costs the gym money which is then passed down to the members in the form of maintenance fees or increased membership rates. Save yourself and others some money and don’t drop the 90-pound weights after a set of incline dumbbell presses.

6) Be Nice to Newcomers

Gym Newbie

Everyone was once a newbie to the gym. It is easy to judge those who perform exercises wrong, hopelessly wander around the gym, or are too afraid to ask for help. Whether you remember it or not, you used to be that guy.

If you see someone who doesn’t quite have the confidence you possess around the gym, don’t be afraid to be that helping hand they need. If you see someone struggling to figure out a machine, show them how to use it. If you see someone looking around, ask them if you can point them in the right direction. Be that guy you wish you had when you first started your fitness journey!

In general, gym etiquette is all about creating a safe and pleasant environment for everyone using the gym. As with all things in life, not everyone will follow these rules, but that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t either. Set a good example, and others will follow.

If you’re a newbie to the gym and would like some help building muscle, make sure to check out my post on the most effective foods for muscle building. And if you’ve been training for a while but haven’t seen any progress, check out my post on things you may be doing wrong!

I hope these 6 gym etiquette rules helped you with quickly assimilating to gym culture! Is there anything you just can’t stand in the gym? Let me know in the comments!

Top 8 Most Effective Muscle Building Foods

Muscle is built by using the building blocks (Amino Acids) and nutrients found in proteins. Therefore, maintaining a protein rich diet is essential for optimal muscle growth.

In addition to a protein rich diet, your body will also need a healthy dose of carbohydrates and fats to maintain a steady supply of energy to fuel your body.

These are 8 of my personal favorite muscle building foods!

1) Lean Meats

From beef to chicken, lean meat is a must have food for anyone wanting to build muscle. A single serving (around 4oz usually) of lean meat ranges from 20-30g of protein and has a ton of essential nutrients.

Chicken breast has been a staple in the bodybuilding world for decades, and for good reason. With zero carbs, virtually no fats and usually found for around $2-$4 per pound, it is one of the best and cheapest lean muscle building foods you can find. Lean beef and turkey are also fantastic choices if you can’t stand chicken!

2) Nuts

Building muscle isn’t all about protein. You can’t function on protein alone and without sufficient fats and carbohydrates your body will break down.

Nuts such as peanuts, almonds and walnuts provide your body with essential fats and nutrients which can reduce cholesterol, improve heart-health and boost strength and stamina. 100g of almonds will have over 500 calories, so be careful not to overindulge yourself.

3) Leafy Greens

While not particularly high in any macro-nutrients, leafy green vegetables are extremely high in micro-nutrients. People will often overlook vegetables in favor of more protein rich foods, but vegetables are vital for maintaining a lean healthy body.

Leafy greens are also rich in dietary fiber and phytochemicals which are both essential to proper functioning of the body. By eating more leafy green vegetables you will feel stronger, healthier and more energetic!

4) Greek Yogurt

Greek yogurt is preferable over regular yogurt for the simple fact that it has fewer sugars and a lot more protein. Greek yogurt also contains a mixture of both slow-digesting (casein) and fast-digesting proteins (whey). Because of this, yogurt is a fantastic option for muscle growth. The fast-digesting proteins will go to work right away. Replenishing already torn muscle tissue while the slow-digesting proteins will go to work over the course of a few hours, creating a steady supply of muscle building nutrients to the body.

5) Beans

Coming in many different varieties, beans are a staple in the muscle building world. The most popular variety, black beans, has up to 9 grams of protein and 8 grams of fiber per 100g. Beans are also a great source of B vitamins and minerals such as Iron and magnesium.

In addition to all the health benefits, beans are also incredibly cheap. They are available in canned or dried varieties all of which start as low as $1 per pound and can be found anywhere.

6) Eggs

People used to be scared of eating too many eggs because of the high cholesterol, but over time research has shown that dietary cholesterol has very little to do with the levels of blood cholesterol in your body. As it turns out, the cholesterol found in eggs and the large amount of the amino acid, Leucine, are incredible at building strong lean muscle.

In addition, eggs are also an excellent source high-quality protein, essential fats and vital nutrients such as B vitamins, choline, and vitamin D. In other words. Eat more eggs!

7) Brown Rice

Your body requires carbohydrates to fuel and supply energy to the muscles. Brown rice didn’t go through a processing plant and therefore maintains a lot more of its fiber, minerals and vitamins (almost twice as much!) compared to white rice.

Brown rice is also digested a lot slower in the body and therefore supplies a steady rate of energy to the body. This steady flow of energy allows for better workout when consumed in the hours leading up to exercise.

8) Salmon

Salmon is a fantastic choice for building muscle. Salmon contains essential nutrients such as B vitamins and omega-3 fatty acids which improve heart health, inhibit muscle breakdown and boosts brain functioning. Additionally, salmon has over 20g of protein per 100g. The only downside to salmon is the price which can range from $12-$30 per pound.

Fortunately, there are a variety of other fish such as tuna and tilapia which provide similar benefits for a cheaper price!

BONUS: Water

Your body is 60% water, and your cells require water to function properly. It is recommended that the average adult man drinks about 3.7L or about 1 gallon of water per day.

This recommendation however, does not consider the liquids lost through exercise. During exercise you will want to consume 4-8 ounces of water every 15-20 minutes, and about 50 ounces of water for every kilogram (2.2 pounds) lost post-exercise. Proper hydration is essential to a healthy body and ideal for building lean muscle.

There are a ton more awesome muscle building foods, but these are my personal favorites! What is your favorite? Let me know in the comments!

If you have been eating lots of muscle building foods but haven’t seen any results, check out my article on potential mistakes you might be making. And if you have been struggling to eat healthy, check out my article on dieting tips and tricks.

5 Reasons Why You’re Not Gaining Muscle

Building muscle isn’t easy, it takes hard work and a lot of time. What’s worse is spending hours in the gym and having nothing to show for it. If you’re frustrated about plateauing or haven’t gained any weight at all, avoid these five common mistakes, and start packing on the muscle.

1) You’re Not Eating Enough

Piece of meat on salad

This one is simple. If you’re eating fewer calories than your body burns in a day, then you will never gain muscle. To find out if you’re eating enough you’ll have to calculate your Total Daily Energy Expenditure, or TDEE for short. There is a bunch of math involved with this, so instead I will link you to a website: https://tdeecalculator.net/ Just type your info into the boxes and the website will calculate your TDEE for you.

Start by adding 250 calories to your TDEE. For example, if your TDEE is 2500, you add 250 to that number and your total daily calorie intake will be 2750. This will make you gain weight slower than the usual recommendation of adding 500 calories, but the weight gained will be mostly muscle rather than a 50/50 split of muscle and fat. This is called lean bulking. With this style of bulking you won’t have to cut down quite as much to lean out.

2) You’re Not Resting or Sleeping Enough

Tired from lifting weights

Muscle is built when your body is resting and recovering, it is not built not in the gym. If you find yourself in the gym for 3-4 hours a day, not resting enough between training days, and getting insufficient sleep every night, then you’ll soon find yourself burned out or even injured.

Your muscles cannot and should not be trained every single day. If you are doing chest on Monday, you should not be doing chest on Tuesday, Wednesday, and Thursday. This will NOT make you gain more muscle, if anything it will break down more muscle than it builds.

Your body NEEDS to rest. It isn’t built like a machine, it can’t keep running (or lifting for that matter) for days and days. It needs to relax and recover, and it needs to do this DAILY. Only a very small percentage of the population, about 1%, can get away with sleeping less than 7-8 hours a day, and chances are that you are not one of them… so go to sleep!

3) You’re Inconsistent with Your Training

Schedule your training days

Consistency is key in life. If you want to become successful in your career, you need to be consistent. You cannot show up to work randomly and expect to be a millionaire by the time you retire. The same goes for building muscle and becoming fit. You simply cannot show up to the gym whenever you feel motivated or guilty for eating a burger. You need to create a solid program that works for your lifestyle, and then stick with it for several months if not years.

There are hundreds of exercise programs on the web, but the only program that will work is the one that fits in with your schedule and lifestyle. If you’re in school and have tons of free time you can try a Push-Pull-Legs split six times a week and have massive success. But if you have a full-time job you should instead stick with a Full-Body split three times a week. Pick a program that works for you and stick with it!

4) You’re Not Training for Size

Training for hypertrophy

I just mentioned how there are hundreds of exercise programs. But if you’re really looking to maximize your muscle gains, and do it in the most efficient manner. Then the number of good programs drops quite dramatically.

Training for size (or hypertrophy) is very different from training for strength, power, or even general fitness. If you are performing 15-25 reps of some complex bicep routine with light weights, then you are NOT training for size. If you are performing 1-5 reps of heavy deadlifts, then you are also NOT training for size.

To train for hypertrophy you ideally want to stay within the 8-12 rep range for most exercises. The 8-12 rep range allows for optimal volume and minimizes your risk for injuries. There is research suggesting that lower rep ranges promote hypertrophy just as well as the 8-12 rep range AND increase strength gains. I personally suggest sticking with the 8-12 rep range if size is your only goal, simply because of minimized risk for injury.

5) You Don’t Have a Mind-Muscle Connection

Mind-Muscle Connection

The final reason you’re not building muscle is that you aren’t training with a Mind-Muscle connection. A Mind-Muscle connection simply means that you’re 100% focused on using the correct muscle group to perform an exercise. You will recruit more muscle fibers, and therefore maximize hypertrophy, by intensely focusing your attention not only on the concentric, but also the eccentric contraction of the muscle. In other words, don’t just drop the weights after you perform the exercise.

Training the Mind-Muscle Connection is one of the first and most important things you need to do when you start training for hypertrophy. Without it you’re just going through the motions and wasting time in the gym. The best way to learn to use the Mind-Muscle connection is by lowering the weights you’re using and making a conscious effort to contract the correct muscle group for the exercise. For example, when you are doing a bicep curl, try to keep your arm straight down beside you while only moving at the elbow joint. At the top of the movement you should also supinate your arm to maximize bicep involvement. Do this for every single exercise in your program and it will become like second nature to you

Follow my advice on how to fix these 5 mistakes and you will be throwing up new personal records monthly!

If you’re still running into trouble packing on muscle after fixing these common issues, please let me know in the comments and I will happily work with you!

6 Easy Tricks to Stick to Your Diet

The sun is starting to come out, summer is just around the corner, and everyone has been struggling to lose weight for months.

Excuses are being thrown around constantly; My diet isn’t working, I have bad genetics, I don’t have time to work out.

Sticking to a diet is hard. Period. But there are a few ways to make it easier.

Here are 6 easy tricks to help you stick to your diet, and obtain your ultimate beach body:

1) Lower Your Daily Calories Over Time

People will often quit cold turkey, or dive into lifestyle changes head first. While I sometimes agree with this approach, I don’t think it’s a good idea when it comes to losing weight.

Drastically lowering your calorie intake from one day to the next makes it harder for you to stick to your diet. It also increases the likelihood of giving up on the diet all together.

Instead, gradually reduce your calorie intake by 150-250 calories for a few weeks. Your diet will be a lot easier to maintain and you won’t feel as hungry all the time!

2) Keep Healthy Foods Easily Accessible

When I was growing up, my mom would always leave fruit and nuts on the kitchen counters, while hiding chips, cookies, and sweets in the pantry.

Bowl of Fruit

As a kid I obviously hated this, but as an adult I thoroughly appreciate it. We tend to gravitate towards food that is more readily accessible.

When you’re trying to lose weight, your first move should be to hide your unhealthy snacks and replace them with fruits, nuts, and protein bars!

3) Use a Daily Calorie Tracker

It is impossible estimate the calories and remember every piece of food you eat every day.

Instead, try using a daily calorie tracker such as MyFitnessPal.com.

It lets you search for whole meals or individual food items in their vast database. If you’re using their mobile app you can also scan each individual barcode!

This allows you to track what you’ve been eating all day, and lets you see at a glance if you are hitting your goals for the day.

4) Meal Prep Ahead of Time

“If you fail to plan, you are planning to fail.” – Benjamin Franklin.

Restaurant and fast food meals tend to be loaded with sugars and fats. This over-saturates the meal with many unnecessary calories.

Meal Prep

Instead, prepare and schedule your meals ahead of time.

Not only will this make it easier to lose weight, but you will also end up saving lots of hard-earned cash to spend on the ladies.

5) Give Yourself a Break

Diets are hard and sticking to them 100% is almost impossible. Repressing your cravings and completely cutting out snacks is usually met with overindulging later.

Instead, eat a piece of your favorite cake or a small cup of ice cream every now and then.

Giving yourself a break allows you to recuperate and recharge your mental strength to come back stronger the next day!

Just make sure you don’t overdo it, or you will completely negate your weight loss efforts.

6) Track Your Progress

Last, but definitely not least. Track. Your Progress!

You have been dieting and training hard for three weeks. You’re excited to step on the scale to see how far you’ve come. Unfortunately, you only lost a single pound.

Scale and measuring tape

It’s easy to think you’re making progress, but the scale doesn’t lie. To ensure you are losing weight, track your progress.

An easy way to track your progress is periodic weigh-ins. Choose a day and time to weigh yourself. Weigh yourself on the exact same day and time every week. This consistency should cancel out the periodic variances in weight.

Losing weight is simple, but these 6 tricks will also make it easy! Do you have any diet tips or tricks to add? Let me know in the comments.