This blog is going to make many of you roll your eyes.
It’s about how to gain weight.
I know, I know, but believe it or not, I have received a request to explain how people who are underweight can gain muscle mass. Eyerollers, please bear with me, and stick around; we’re going to talk about muscles!
Down here in Tampa, Mark Lauren is known for his bodyweight strength training. In his book “You Are Your Own Gym,” he believes that diet plays a HUGE roll in gaining weight (well duhh dude…)
Okay, so let’s say you’re already thin and you want to be healthy, but you are afraid you’re going to lose even more weight (Yes, I am aware that this can sound ridiculous). The trick is to eat more than you burn.
In order to build strength, you are obviously going to have to build muscle. However, you cannot build muscle if you do not supply the calories to build those suckers. Lauren suggests consuming 500-1000 calories more than you would normally burn in a day. When you strength train, these excess calories will help build muscle.
However, you cannot be eating a bunch of processed, sugar, saturated, and trans fat-filled foods. Even if you are eating the perfect amount of calories, you are not going to have the same results. Lauren suggests eating frequent meals five to six times per day. He believes that this keeps your metabolism revved up and prevents hunger. However, research completed by the Albert Einstein College of Medicine states that it does not matter when you eat, as much as it matters what and how much. In my opinion, the main benefit of eating small meals throughout the day is that you are less hungry, and thus less likely to gorge or make poor diet decisions.
Also, cooking six meals a day requires time that not many people have, so you might want to alternate meals with protein shakes, if you are really serious about gaining muscle. Lauren claims that there is not a particular protein powder that is essential; instead, he states that you should be sure that the powder is a complete protein (has all nine of the essential amino acids) and is low in carbs (especially sugar).
Even if you do not eat six meals a day, protein shakes are a great post-workout meal. Lauren suggests that exercisers consume 30-50 grams of protein and 30-50 grams of carbohydrates immediately after a strength training session. If you’ve just completed a cardiovascular workout, you can skip the protein shake. However, this blog is about gaining muscle, and if you’re trying to do that, you should skip the cardio (*tear*).
Overall, in order to build muscle, you’ve got to eat enough protein and train consistently. Jillian Michaels claimed in one of her podcasts that muscle can be lost in as soon as 36 hours. Yikes! Now, keep in mind you MUST have a recovery day at least once a week, just don’t get too lazy!
Even if you do want to lose weight, remember that gaining muscle is essential to increasing your resting metabolism rate. Therefore, if you want to gain muscle and lose weight, do not eat a load of excessive calories, eat 1.5 grams of protein for every pound of body weight, evenly split the amount of carbs and fat you consume, and be consistent.
There you go. I hope I helped both ends of the weight spectrum today.
Many women decide to only do cardio exercises because they “don’t want to get bulky.” Admittedly, I used to be one of these people. However, I have been recently studying Mark Lauren’s publications, and he has revealed to me how silly I was being! Not only will strength training help you build a sleeker physique, but it will also help you maintain one, all without bulk!
There is a common misconception that cardio is the best way to burn fat. Now, I LOVE cardiovascular exercise, so a small piece of my soul died when I heard otherwise. Do not misunderstand me, cardio is still fantastic for you, since it increases your endurance, burns fat, and strengthens your heart; however, strength training increases your metabolism rate. When you strength train, you build muscle (duh), and muscle increases your metabolic rate, which means you burn more calories even when you are just sitting on your bum. Aerobic training alone can actually burn your muscle along with your fat, so while you may burn more calories in one session than you would lifting weights, your metabolism rate stays about the same. Thus, when you do cardiovascular training, you usually burn more calories during your workout, but when you push through strength training you burn more for the next 48 hours. That adds up!
Okay, so many ladies hear this and worry that they are going to transform into Ms. Olympia.
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Don’t be so conceited! No matter how hard you try, you will NEVER gain that much muscle without some…err…medical assistance. The human body does not naturally become incredibly bulky, especially for women. Fitness Forum explains that women naturally carry more body fat than men, which prevents us from getting bulging veins in our muscles (so sorry to disappoint, for any of you radicals out there). Kristen Fisher, a journalist for Livestrong.com, points out that testosterone is a key hormone in muscle building, and females have 20 times less testosterone than males. So really, ladies have nothing to lose with strength training! Increased metabolism rate without looking freakish? What are you waiting for?!
I do not have much experience with lifting weights, and I understand that many people may find lifting intimidating. Personally, I intend to take a weight training course next year, but not everyone has that option. I suggest starting by working with your own body weight. Attend a Pilates class, or buy a couple of DVDs if you do not have that option. So far I am enjoying Mark Lauren’s Book “You Are Your Own Gym,” and if his workouts are as great as I anticipate, I will recommend them as well. If you are complaining that your body is too heavy, then it should make some great resistance, right?