Lets smash some really frustrating myths that have been floating around!
Lifting heavy weights will NOT, I repeat NOT make you look bulky.
If you've ever come across a woman on the internet with extremely big muscles there's 100% chance that she takes performance enhancing steroids because a woman's body cannot just build muscle like that with out them.
Absolutely almost every woman we have introduced to weight lifting has asked at the beginning, “are you sure about this? I don't want to get bulky. I just want to tone up”
Well let's just explain what toning up actually means. Firstly we can't tone a muscle into a specific shape, we can only make it bigger or smaller.
Toned: This means well built glutes, legs and good definition in the arms and back and also having a thin layer of fat around the muscles that keep you from having that too lean or shredded look. To do this we must build muscle in these areas by lifting weights and we don't mean lifting light weights for lots of reps we mean lifting heavier weights over time to keep the muscle getting stronger and to grow.
"But what happens if the muscle gets too big and I start to look bulky?"
Well this is where your fat & calorie control comes in. Having that bulky look usually means your carrying too much fat around the muscles and not that the muscle has actually gotten bigger. No matter how many times a week you're lifting or whatever training you do if you're eating more calories than you need to fuel your body and training then you're going to gain fat around your muscles and look bulky.
So if you're trying to prevent the bulky look while making gains in the weights room then you need to control your calorie intake and eat at a maintenance level (eating the same amount of calories than your body is burning). If its that leaner look with more definition in your muscles that you're going for then decreasing the amount of fat around the muscles is what you need to do. To do this you must create a calorie deficit (burning more or eating less calories than your body is using for fuel) by taking in less calories or burning up more.
Cardio: Cardio is a great tool for burning up those extra calories and keeping body fat down but if too much cardio is done it can have a negative effect on your goal to look toned. As explained earlier, to have a toned body we must have well built legs, glutes and back etc but cardio alone can't do this for you. Only weight training can. Too much cardio can actually send you in the opposite direction and you can lose muscle gains.
You've heard the saying 'if you don't use it you lose it' well that goes for your muscle too. If you're not lifting weights and just doing cardio there's a good chance you're burning through your muscles to fuel your cardio and losing your muscle mass and after time that can leave you looking thin or “skinny”.
The ultimate guide to looking lean & toned!
Firstly get yourself to the weights room, as scary as it may seem. Now let building strength be the goal and keep trying to lift heavier weight over time. Focus most of your workouts on the body parts you want to grow or maintain like glutes and legs but don't neglect those other muscle groups and hit those weekly too.
If you're not happy with the amount of fat around your muscles this doesn't mean you need to drop the weights and get on the thread mill. It just means you need to create a small deficit in your calorie intake but keep lifting to maintain your muscle while losing the fat.
If you're like me and hate cutting calories because you love food then you could add in some cardio or more activities throughout the day to help burn some of them calories but just don't let it get in the way of your weight lifting. Put it this way it's easier not to eat 500 calories than it is to burn 500.
If your already really lean and rocking a couple of abs but your struggling to build up them glutes there's a 99% chance your not eating enough food to fuel the growth of your glutes even though you might be smashing them in the gym they still won't grow if your starving them. Try increasing your calories slightly and you will start to see results
Take home points
1. Lifting weights does not make you "bulky".
2. Being bulky means you're carrying too much fat not muscle.
3. Muscle won't grow if you're not feeding it enough calories to do so.
Delayed onset muscle soreness also known as DOMS. This is a common sensation felt after lifting weights. Most trainees actually base the success or effectiveness of their training sessions on how sore they get. However, this is not a good way to judge your workouts. Typically DOMS is characterised by muscle tenderness, stiffness and soreness and can actually slow down your progression in the gym if they occur too often due to being too sore to train again the next day.
Most of us like that feeling of waking up the next day a bit stiff after working out just enough to remind us that we've put in some good work however nobody likes that excruciating muscle pain when you can't even sit on the toilet! (ouch!) This level of DOM's is usually caused by training something completely new or just over training in general and can last up to 7 days.
Here are some tips on how you can help reduce and prevent DOM's and recover well after your workouts.
Step 1 - Sleep
Sleep is the number one factor to recovery. It's your body's only chance to completely shut down and rest. So get your 8 hours in guys. Try to "switch off" about 30 mins before you go to bed. Get into the habit of leaving the phone downstairs, make sure the room is dark and even try to read an enjoyable book before you fall asleep. Give your brain some down time, time away from the internet and the mundaneness of social media. Allow yourself to switch off before actually going to bed and you will be amazed in how different you sleep and how much better you actually feel the next day!
Step 2- Hydration
Exercising while dehydrated can cause greater damage to muscles and reduce the body’s ability to repair itself. So keeping your body hydrated throughout the day with a minmum of 3 litres of water and an extra litre when exercising will help in a speedy recovery.
Step 3 - Nutrition
Follow a nutrition plan that is complete in all macronutrients. A well nourished body will be better equipped to fuel your workout and recover efficiently!
Protein plays a crucial role in the recovery of broken down muscle fibres after resistance training.
For someone resistance training on a regular basis the recommended amount of protein daily is 1.0g - 1.5g per pound of body weight
Meal timing is also important, consume a well balanced meal with 2 hours of training.
Looking for a healthy food plan?
WE HAVE AN ONLINE READY MADE MACRONUTRIENT FOOD PLAN AVAILABLE TO DOWNLOAD!
Step 4 - SMR
Self-myofascial release is performed in a sports massage or by using a foam roller. This technique has been proven to
reduce stiffness and release tenderness in a muscle. Be careful with foam rolling if you have never done it before. Check out some Youtube videos on how to foam roll certain parts of the body.
Step 5 - Active REcovery
Call it hair of the dog if you like! While you may want to become a hermit until the muscle pain passes, a better strategy for the body is some activity!
Your body wants to move so after suitable rest jump straight back in...
Step 6 - Yoga
Regular yoga sessions can help lesson or reduce Doms by maintaining the elasticity in the muscle fibres & release the myofascial surrounding the muscle tissue which in turn will reduce the risk of scar tissue & reduce your recovery time. Adding at least one yoga session into your training week will not only help with the pain of Doms, it will also reduce the risk of injury! Win Win!
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