Rule #1 – Make a commitment to your body
It’s very easy to get started with weight training. It’s also very easy to quit just after a few sessions. Some people might get bored, others might get discouraged with the lack of results, but all of them are missing a critical component of the training, which is commitment. What does it mean to commit to your body? It means going to the gym regularly, fighting off distractions; it means staying away from harmful substances, including dubious performance-enhancing drugs, and getting the right nutrition; it means listening to your body in order to pace yourself and get the most out of your workouts.
Rule #2 – Get your protein intake right
Your muscles need proteins in order to repair themselves and grow stronger. The more intense the workout, the larger the protein requirement. It’s hard to generalize, but a few rules of thumb have been developed over the years: the most common one is to eat 1 to 1.5 grams of protein per pound of body weight, depending on the intensity of the workout and your particular needs. Sources of protein are beef, poultry, eggs, and fish. Vegans shouldn’t worry, as they also have high-protein options, such as quinoa, amaranth, beans, and peas. Consulting with a nutritionist is a good idea, especially if you’re not certain whether or not you’re eating the right amount of protein.
Rule #3 – High weight or high reps will get you there
There’s some debate as to whether you should lift heavy weight with a small number of repetitions, or if you could do smaller weights for a larger number of repetitions. Recent studies (Stuart M. Phillips et al, Journal of Applied Physiology, 2016) have proven there’s actually no difference between either approach. The key to gaining muscle mass and strength is to reach the limit of your current capacity. This means to exercise each muscle group to the point where you wouldn’t be able to do one more rep or at least one more set.
Rule #4 – Don’t overdo it
Complementary to the last rule, you should listen to your body and determine if you’re working out too hard. ‘No pain, no gain’ is a common saying, and it warns us not to fall into complacency, but it lets the door open for exercise excess. To make sure you’re in the safe zone, keep an eye out for the following symptoms of overtraining:
– Constant feelings of fatigue
– Low self-esteem
– A Propensity for illnesses, such as the flu or cold
– Constant pain, especially in the joints
Although some discomfort is always associated with training, if you’re doing it right you should feel more energetic, stronger and overall better than before. If this is not the case, it may be wise to reduce the intensity of your workout.
Rule #5 – Don’t rely on just weights
Working out is not just about lifting weights. There are tons of activities that can get you bigger and stronger, all by using your own body. Martial arts, like Karate, Tae Kwon Do, and Jiu Jitsu not only strengthen your body, they also boost your confidence and self-esteem by teaching you self-defense. Find the activity that best fits your personality, as it will help you in sticking with your workout for the long run.