Why you’re NOT getting stronger!
Are you tirelessly working out and not noticing that you’re not feeling strong? Are you reading all of the latest fitness articles telling you how to get stronger but they’re not working? Are you sick of feeling like you wasting your time at the gym?
There are many confusing articles and people telling you what’s the best way to get stronger, gain muscle, or my favorite, get ripped! The truth is, it’s actually a simple equation that most people aren’t getting right.
First question, how often are you working out?
Your frequency of how often your working out and what you’re working out can make one of the biggest impacts overall! Let’s say your currently working out 2-3 times per week and each workout you’re doing a different type of workout, first a muscle needs to undergo challenge in order to break down to grown, if you’re not properly challenging the muscles your looking to strengthen then you’re not going to gain actual muscle fiber. If you work out 5-7 days a week alternating body parts focused on then you will notice significate gains in your strength
The second question is how hard are you working out?
Your intensity will GREATLY affect your outcomes when it comes to strength gains! If you show up to a class and put forth minimal effort and then pat yourself on the back for showing up, then congrats your made it to class that better than nothing, BUT if your wanting to get something out of those workouts FASTER check your intensity level. Let’s say for instance that you are in a class that you have to work for 45 second on and rest 20 seconds then do the next exercise, if you only work for 40 second and then stop before the timer goes off then your clearly not pushing yourself to go the full time, unless your pushing that hard the you can’t, then HIGH FIVE! Being mindful of you breathe, listening to your body and staying out of your head is as much of a mental exercise as the physical exercise your performing.
Physical adaptions happen when you do something the same way but continually challenge yourself to do MORE or BETTER, to handle the intensity and stick it out to the end, give one more rep even after the bell goes off, or showing up to the gym one extra time per week.
An example of a simple workout for the upper body would be Pullups, TRX Chest Press (Under Anchor), Overhead Kettlebell Press. Perform each exercise at 45 second on 30 seconds rest for 7 rounds. This is a form of metabolic stress muscular adaption. Another form of muscular adaption is Time Under Tension (TUT), this is where you aren’t focusing on increasing weight but controlling the eccentric and concentric phases of the exercise. TUT usually applies to lifting weights but is extremely affective in body weight exercises to increase muscular size(hypertrophy) and strength. An example would be slowing lower weight down for 10 seconds and lifting it back up at a 10 second rate. You should only be able to do 8-10 reps MAX if you have the correct weight or angle with your body weight like TRX Training. Taking 30-90 second rest periods between sets.
Whatever training method you prefer just make sure you judge your starting point correctly, don’t start to heavy or too intense because your just risking injury, but DO consistently push YOURSELF, it’s not always the job of the instructor or personal training to tell you get out of your head and put more effort into YOUR workout. You’d be surprised of what your actually capable of if you just try!
Third and probably the most important question, what’s in your diet?
There are many facts that can contribute to muscular strength and growth but none more important than diet. Eating the right amount of protein, carbs and fats are essential for providing the right building blocks for skeletal muscle mass. I don’t believe in counting calories or macro as a sustainable way to live but it might be important for a short season to gain insight to your general dietary needs. It is recommended that an active induvial intake 1.5 – 2 grams of protein per kilogram of bodyweight (150/2.2= 68 so 68×1.5=102) So a 150lb active individual would need to take in a minimum of 102 grams of protein to help build skeletal muscle mass. Many people over eat or consume protein thinking more is better, which is not the case, it will just be stored or passed through the gut. To figure out how much protein your consuming here’s just a simple example of some protein counts:
4oz of Chicken = 25 grams
¼ cup quinoa = 5.5 grams
¼ of almonds = 8 grams
The second part is Carbohydrates, something that we already probably consume enough or too much already! The recommended intake of carbohydrates to support healthy skeletal muscle mass is 5-6 grams per kilogram of body weight (150/2.2=68 so 68×5=340) Again a 150lb individual would need to consume 340 grams of carbs per day, which if you look at your diet your probably already there if not over. Over consumption of carbohydrates is one of the major contributing factors in the obesity epidemic today because of its abundance and availability. To figure out how many carbs your consuming here’s just a simple example of some protein counts:
¼ cup of oats = 15 grams
¼ cup of rice = 35 grams
1 slice of pizza = 36 grams
1 slice of wheat bread = 12 grams
1 slice of gluten free bread = 11 grams
As you can see the carb count on the majority of some staple foods are much higher than most protein counts in most of our typical foods. So, it is much easier to over each carbs causing excess weight gain and covering up the muscle that you have built!
Fat is essential for many roles in our body, especially brain function. Skeletal muscle mass is only made up of 8% fatty acids. It’s recommended that 15% of your daily calories should come from fats, but there a major difference in fats. (if 2,000 daily cal. per day (2,000 x .15 = 300)) Mono and poly saturated fats should be the majority of the fat consumed focusing on Omega 3 for reducing inflammation and promoting tissue repair in muscles after workouts. Avoid added saturated fats as they promote elevated levels of cholesterol and rick of heart disease. Healthy sources of fats include:
1 avocado = 29 grams or 322 calories
3 oz piece of salmon = 11 grams or 177 calories
1 slice of bacon = 3 grams or 43 calories
1 tbsp of coconut oil = 14 grams or 117 calories
Making sure that your getting in good quality fats is crucial, avoiding fatty, fried foods will help you reduce your intake of saturated fats.
Protein, carbohydrates and fats are all essential nutrients, excess or deficiencies of any of these could be problematic so seeking professional guidance from a certified personal trainer, dietitian or your doctor should be considered.
Final question is how much QUALITY sleep are getting per night?
Last thing which can be the hardest for EVERYONE is sleep. Getting adequate amount of sleep is crucial for your muscles to repair themselves. Your body releases growth hormone only during your deep REM sleep cycle. Let say that you EAT correctly, workout with the correct INTENSITY, and working out ENOUGH but still aren’t seeing gains in your strength, then more than likely it’s your lack of QUALITY deep sleep that is keeping you from those gains. Things you can start doing to help you get better, more quality sleep:
- Create a routine before you go to bed. Your body will start to get the clue and start shutting down
- Cut back on the sugar in the evening. Sugar creates energy, which causes heat, and if your hot it’s hard to sleep and let you brain calm down from the sugar.
- Drink a “Bed Time” or “Relax” tea before bed. Some herbal teas are filed with herbs to help relax your mind and body.
If you really want to get serious about your efforts in the gym then you need to get serious about the quality, not just the amount, of sleep.
To wrap up and put this in simpler terms, workout CONSISTENTLY, PUSH yourself, eat TIGHT, have POSITIVE mindset and get QUALITY sleep. Strength and muscle gain aren’t something that should happen quickly to be able to sustain a healthy workout regiment, so be patient and you’ll be rewarded.