I know it’s so much more common for men to train to build muscle then it is for woman. However, if you are a woman I think you’re making a huge mistake. If part of your program is not focused on training to add some muscle, you may be missing out on the key component to help you get that body. Building muscle is the cornerstone to an effective fat loss program.
As one of my mentors, Coach Dan John, once said “if you want to burn fat then train to build muscle”.
“if you want to burn fat then train to build muscle”.
This is the concept I live by when designing many fat loss programs.
The type of programs we use to build muscle are also some of the best programs to burn fat. High volume resistance training programs are what bodybuilders have been using for decades. I know it scares the average female to death to think they will look like a bodybuilder if they train like this. However, it will likely have a much more pronounced effect on fat burning then building slabs of muscle, at least on most females. The truth is, as a female, you do not have the hormonal make-up to build that type of muscle.
Honestly, everyone can stand to add some muscle mass, especially as we age. Think of it this way, muscle is the furnace that sucks up energy and burns it up as fuel. Fat, on the other hand, is just a warehouse waiting to store whatever excess energy (glucose) is not burned up by muscle or stored by the liver (glycogen).
If you’re trying to build muscle but are struggling to make it happen, these 10 things may very well be inhibiting you from building the strong, lean body you really want, as opposed to the skinny-fat body excess cardio sessions and starvation diets will get you.
1. You Don’t Eat Enough. In order to build new muscle tissue, your body needs extra calories (ie. extra energy). This means you have to gain weight. And to gain weight you have to eat more. Our bodies are not capable of adding more than roughly half a pound of lean muscle per week. Gain too fast and get fat. So make sure the calories you are consuming are from good quality sources like lean meats, fish, eggs, vegetables, rice, potatoes and fruit. Just keep an eye on the scale so your not gaining too much to quick. Regular body composition measurements are very helpful in this area.
2. You Aren’t Consistent. This goes for both diet and exercise. Lift weights at least 3 times per week. Eat enough every single day. Consistency is key for any long term change. Missing a day here and there won’t kill you, but making a habit of it will definitely slow results.
3. Your Form Sucks. 75% of people at the gym don’t know how to lift weights. And that’s low-balling it for sure. Leave your ego at the door – using poor form to lift more weight is a good recipe for injury. Not to mention it fails to properly activate the correct musculature. Take some time and research good form for all of your lifts. The web has a wealth of info as well as some bad stuff. So be careful where your getting your info from.
Hiring a fitness professional can be priceless when it comes to designing a good program and learning proper form. Some exercises may not be suitable for everyone while other exercises can be essential. There is a lot more to resistance training then just “picking things up and putting them down”. Learn the truth and reap the rewards.
4. You Don’t Track Progress. If you don’t know how much weight you lifted for how many reps last time you were at the gym, you don’t have a target to aim for. We know the importance of pushing the limits but it’s not completely necessary to destroy yourself each session just as long as you’re making consistent progress over the long term.
Be sure not to neglect this principle. Use a simple note pad or you can even use a smart phone application to track your workouts. They have come a long way.
5. You Don’t Do These Exercises. Squats, deadlifts, presses, and rows. Learn to live by them. Embrace them and bump your game up a notch. These are the core movements that we use in our daily lives. Everyone from professional athletes to soccer-moms will benefit from using them in their program’s. They simultaneously recruit many muscle groups and maximal stimulate the CNS (central nervous system). They will increase over-all strength, stability, sports performance and metabolism. These types of exercises are the foundation of our movement system and provide a balanced stimulus to large muscle groups to prevent and/or reduce movement restrictions caused by muscular imbalances.
6. You Do Too Many Of These Exercises. Bicep curls, tricep extensions, and calf raises. Isolation exercises like these target only one muscle group at a time. And it tends to be a small muscle group that’s already targeted by one of the big boy exercises above. These exercises do have benefits. However, you should use them sparingly.
There are much better choices for isolation exercises, especially when addressing specific muscular imbalance issues. I prefer some isolation exercises for upper back, rotator cuff work as well as some static core training. Other then some of the exercises I just mentioned, many isolation exercises should be added in small doses as compared to the bigger movements.
Keep in mind that it may take some proper preparation before you are capable of properly executing the large movements. This is where a fitness professional will come in to play. They will help you identify the exercises you need to implement to move better and which ones will assist you in developing the body you want.
7. You Have No Butt. Having strong glutes will help immensely with resistance training. The glutes are a greatly under rated muscle group but play a major role in just about everything we do. They not only help you run faster, climb stairs and move better but they help protect against knee, back, and hip problems. Not to mention – all of the visual benefits of having a strong, firm butt. Start by doing bridges, hip thrusts and band walks. Focus on squeezing each rep and concentrating on getting a maximal contraction with each rep. Developing the glutes will absolutely help in your quest for a better body.
8. You Rely Too Much On Supplements. Whey protein can help you meet your daily protein intake. Creatine is proven to increase strength and muscle. But there is not much else out there that will truly help you. Supplements that claim to speed up your metabolism don’t really make that much of a difference for most people and may in fact cause problems. As well as the supplements that claim they will help add 10 pounds of muscle in 2 weeks. There’s nothing that can take the place of a good diet and hard, consistent training. Focus on these variables instead of trying to find the magic potion.
9. You Expect Instant Results. Be patient. Enjoy the journey of building your body step by step. Embrace the process, as it can be quite fulfilling. Results are measured over months and years. Not days and weeks. Put unrealistic expectations on yourself and you will likely become frustrated and dissatisfied, before finally giving up.
10. Not Making It A Priority. If it is important enough to you, you will put it at the top of the list. Life tends to get in the way but you can still make the time to get the job done. If you claim that you do not have enough time then you’re not making it a priority. A solid commitment of no less then 4-5 hours per week, along with a strong diet and a lifestyle that matches your goals is all you need to build that body you say you want. Sure you can commit more when you can or less when you can’t but I think 5 hours of the right training and you will get there. Make a commitment or make an excuse. It’s your choice.
Strength For Life.