Scared to lift weights and increase your calories? Don’t be! Strong is the NEW skinny and in order to build lean, toned muscle you can’t be afraid to LIFT HEAVY & EAT! It’s time we talked about GAINS!
Congratulations your hard work has paid off and you finally hit your goal weight! Now what?
Or maybe you’ve been at the same weight for a while but that muscle definition just isn’t there. Now what??
Or maybe you just want to see those abs you’ve worked so hard for! Now what?!?
Well now it’s time we talked about GAINS. Time to focus on getting toned vs “skinny” because STONG IS THE NEW SKINNY. Women want to look fit and toned not skinny and lanky right? Of course I’m not saying incredible hulk shredded…but you probably wouldn’t mind seeing a little definition in your arms and/or abs. Am I right??
Losing “pounds” versus gaining lean muscle are very different nutrition/training plans. It can be difficult to shift your mindset from LOSS-mode to GAINS-mode (aka BEASTMODE) so here is everything you need to know to start working on your GAINZ.
1) EAT UP!
Just like when your goal was to “lose weight” it all comes down to nutrition. Only now you’re not trying to LOSE you’re looking to GAIN (lean muscle that is) so your body needs fuel to build muscle. READ: increase your calories!
I personally have seen a lot of success using this very simple formula: take your current body weight x 10 then add 500 and that is your target calorie allotment for the day. I also like to give myself a +/- 100-calorie range to account for everything that happens in life. I can always stay within my 200-calorie window but it can be hard to hit the same number everyday.
Example – I weigh 140 pounds so my calorie target would be 140 x 10 + 500 = 1900 target with a range of 1800-2000 cals per day.
Seems high right?? 2000 calories?? Remember the goal – GAIN lean muscle! And we’re not talking about 1900 calories of pizza and ice cream! This is real food at the right protein/carb/fat ratios (more on that later) spread out into 5-6 small meals throughout the day.
2) Protein is King
PROTEIN PROTEIN PROTEIN! Beef, chicken, eggs, turkey, fish, etc. you must eat (or drink) protein. 45% of your calorie intake should come from lean protein (or supplements) that means on a 1900-calorie day you need to eat about 213 grams each day. That’s a lot! Plan for it in your Sunday meal prep to make sure every meal contains a source of protein. Whether it is chicken over a salad or scrambled egg whites or hardboiled eggs for a snack or a breakfast protein shake. You gotta get it in!
Why? Increased protein helps maintain the lean muscle mass you already have which increases your metabolism and rebuilds the NEW muscle you want to GAIN.
3) Watch those carbs…
You don’t have to completely eliminate carbs; doing so would only set you up for failure. This is a lifestyle not a fad “low carb” diet, so focus on eating the right carbs at the right time and at the right %.
The carbs to eliminate would be sugary/simple carbs, which includes candy, cakes, pies, white bread, pasta etc. The carbs to keep “in check” include complex carbohydrates like whole grains, brown rice and fruit.
Yes that’s right fruit. Fruit is mostly sugar and sugar = body fat. Natural sugar is still sugar and it still makes you fat if you eat too much of it. Use an app like “Lose It” or “My Fitness Pal” to help keep these carbs in check – target 35% and in the 1900-calorie example would equal about 166 grams of carb per day. See not no carb or even low carb… Just balanced carb intake!
(PS for those keeping track the last 20% should be good fats like nuts, avocados, etc)
4) Lift like a BOSS!
Ladies, listen very closely: you will not bulk up from lifting heavy. I will say this again: You will not bulk up by lifting heavy weights.
You may put on a little lean mass (meaning the pounds on the scale might go up), but it should not cause you to outgrow your pants. In fact just the opposite; if you are watching your nutrition and bumping up your dumbbells consistently, you will be getting smaller and leaner overall. Stop worrying about the number on the scale and focus on inches and body fat %!
I know, psychologically this is tough to do but remember your goal – GAINS!
If you need any more convincing… in addition to getting toned and gaining lean muscle, strength training has also proven to boost metabolism, increase strength overall, improve sleep, increase self-esteem, and aid in prevention/control of health conditions such as diabetes, heart disease and arthritis
5) A Little Cardio Goes a Long Way
It’s so easy to go overboard with cardio especially if you’ve always been focused on weight-loss and this will actually work against you when trying to achieve lean muscle gains. Excessive cardio (either steady state like running or prolonged sessions of high intensity interval training) will force your body to eat muscle for fuel rather than fat stores and all the food you’ve been eating. This is bad! We worked hard for that muscle and want to keep it and build on it! Not lose it to squeeze in a few extra burpees!
It’s becoming more and more popular for clients to do double capms at BBC. When done correctly/safely, this is great if you’re still in weight-loss mode. However if the goal is muscle GAINS, doubling down on cardio day is probably doing just the opposite. I recommend limiting to 1 double session per week and if possible spacing the camps out during the day – an AM and a PM workout. This way your body has time to recover and you have time to refuel in preparation for round 2.
So what have we learned?
1) EAT 2) EAT More Protein 3) Eat less Carbs 4) Lift HEAVY 5) Don’t overdo the Cardio
Finding balance in Cardio, strength, and nutrition are all important and all build upon each other. Focusing too much on any one while ignoring the others won’t give you the GAINS you’re looking for!
You totally got this! Want to learn more?
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