Strength training is good for your health and for your body. It protects bone health and muscle mass and it helps you keep the weight off. People usually start strength training for one of two reasons: to lose weight or to gain muscle. While some people add strength training to a cardio routine, others lift weight purely to gain muscle. If you have been lifting weights for a while, then your gains may have become stagnant. There are a few things you can do to continue gaining muscle.
1. Warm-Up Properly
Whatever type of exercise you are doing, the warmup is important. Even with strength training, you need to give your muscles and your nervous system the chance to warm up. Now it may not seem like a bid deal but if you just immediately go into your strength training workout with your cold muscles you will do more harm to your body then not. For your warmup, you need to slowly increase your weight as you decrease your reps.
For example: Let’s say that your goal maximum weight is 200lbs, then your warmup would look something like this:
- First set: 16 reps with 80lbs
- Second set: 8 reps with 115lbs
- Third set: 4 reps with 175llbs
- Last set: 1 rep with 200lbs
2. Basic Moves First
When it comes to weightlifting there are four basic moves. Everyone knows the bench press, squats, standing overhead press and the deadlift. These four basic moves will give you total body development. They require a lot of energy and use several muscle groups. When you do these workouts, do them first. Or do them as early in your workout as possible. This will ensure that you will have the energy and strength do as many reps as you need.
3. Increase Weight, Decrease Reps
Many people think that in order to gain muscle you need to do multiple reps with a heavyweight, but that’s not true. When you are lifting to gain muscle, you need to use heavier weights but with fewer reps. What you do is take the heaviest weight you can work with and work up to it.
Start with the lightest weight and do 8 reps and then go a little heavier and do 6 reps. And so on and so on. Work your way to the heaviest weight you can work with and do at least 4 sets of 4 reps. Slowly increasing your weights while decreasing your reps will help you gain muscle.
4. Longer Rest Periods
You may think that in order to gain muscle you should take shorter rest periods; you would be wrong. It may not seem like your rest periods have anything to do with you gaining muscle, but it does make a difference. Take longer rest periods between sets if you are lifting heavier weights.
Lifting heavier weights is much more taxing on your body. This means that your body is going to need a longer rest time between sets. Take a rest period longer than 3 minutes for any type of recovery to happen.
5. Eat More
For better gains, you need to eat more. Now that doesn’t mean eat crap. You don’t need to eat a dozen doughnuts for breakfast. Whatever you eat you need to make sure it is nutritious. Your diet should consist of lean meat, fruits and vegetables, and carbs. You should also be eating a lot of protein.
Eat food high in calories but not high in saturated and trans fat. Before you start your strength training routine, create a meal plan. If you can’t create one do your research online and find one you can follow. Make sure you follow it and keep track of what you eat and how much.
6. Creatine Supplements
There are certain creative supplements that you can take that will help you with your muscle gains. Protein powder is a good way to get your protein in especially if you have a busy lifestyle. Now, you should be getting most of your protein from actual food. But if for whatever reason that is not possible then drinking protein shakes and eating protein bars is a good way to do it.
Research the protein products before consumption to make sure it is not high in sugar and other ingredients that would be detrimental to your diet. Whey protein is the best type of protein if you can get it. Whey protein is one of the proteins found in milk. Whey protein increases muscle protein synthesis and is absorbed faster.
Or you could use Creatine. Creatine is something that our bodies produce naturally, and our muscles use for energy. Taking Creatine as a supplement may increase strength and muscle size. This will help you exponentially while strength training. It also has minimal side effects.