Everybody wants to have a good body. Who doesn’t? But do you know the secret to having a good body? Does having a good body mean going to the gym and spending 3 hours in it doing barbell curls? Or swearing by your protein shake, which you drink religiously after every workout session?
No, having a good body not only requires hard work in the gym, but it also requires proper rest and a good diet. Because after all, 70% of having a good body happens in the kitchen and the other 30% of muscle growth happens in the gym. Shocked and horrified that spending 3 hours in a gym is not making you look like Arnold Schwarzenegger but is in fact hampering your growth process? It’s ok, I’m here to help.
Let me break it down for you.
If you fail to plan, you plan to fail. This is cannot be truer when you are trying to lose fats and gain muscle. Have a goal in mind and work towards it.
To burn more fats, lift heavier weights with lesser reps (3-7). Focus your workouts on compound exercises like squats, bench press and deadlifts. Spend lesser time on isolation exercises like biceps curl, legs extensions and triceps kickback. For the uninitiated, isolation exercises places a lot of stress on a single, isolated muscle. Compound exercises engages several muscle groups at one time to move two or more joints through a range of motion, hence building more muscles.
The reason most people shun compound exercises is because proper form and techniques are needed to carry out these exercises. Lack of proper form and techniques will result in injury, so I cannot stress enough the importance of starting a compound exercise with lighter weights till you get the proper form and technique.
Your rest periods also play an important part in burning fats. Rest no longer than 30 seconds in between sets if you want to speed up the fat burning process. When trying to build muscle, rest up to 3 minutes in between sets.
Last but not least, do your cardio after workouts. I know I know, I hear loud audible groans every time I mention cardio. Nobody likes cardio, but there’s no running away from the fact that cardio burns fats. But not just any cardio. Introducing to you High-Intensive Interval Training or HIIT in short.
Personally, I’m a huge fan of HIIT because I have seen the effects it has on me. The magic about HIIT is that it can be done anywhere in less than 20 minutes or less, as long as you have a stopwatch. If you are in a gym, you can perform it on the treadmill, rowing machine, bikes and elliptical trainers.
A HIIT workout consists of 5 minutes warm up, 30 seconds all out work, 30 seconds rest and 5 minutes cool down. If you have never done HIIT before, start with 6 sets and slowly increase by 1 set every week. Do not perform HIIT for more than 3 times a week.
Diet and supplements
Now I come to the 70% part of having a good body. If you are one of those people who think that just because they workout 3-4 times a week, it gives them a free pass to eat whatever they want. I have news for you: Clean up your diet or your workouts are just a waste of time.
Of course it is not going to be easy to eating chicken breasts, brown rice and broccoli while your friends are eating McDonald’s. But once you start eating clean and it becomes a habit, there is no looking back. The benefits of eating clean and healthy are tremendous, like losing body fats and recovering fast when you are sick.
The simplest way to eat clean is to find your favourite protein, simple and complex carbohydrate sources. This way, the planning and preparation of the meals wouldn’t put you off. After all, simplicity is the key to success.
Good protein sources would be chicken breasts, beef and turkey breasts. Dairy products like cottage cheese, milk and eggs are excellent protein sources too. Don’t shun fats too. Omega 3 fatty acids are important for muscle growth so eat fishes like salmon, tilapa and tuna.
Contrary to popular beliefs, no, carbs are not your worst enemy. In fact, if you are training hard then you should be eating carbs. Base your carbs around before you workout and immediately after you workout. But try to avoid simple carbs like white bread and processed food as they are high in sugar and therefore they store bodyfats. They are best to consume immediately after your workouts because they provide a release of insulin. Complex carbs are slow digesting carbs. Foods like whole-wheat bread and brown rice are prefect complex carbs. Because they are slow digesting, they provide energy and won’t be stored as bodyfats.
Fats and a good diet don’t go hand in hand right? Wrong. Fats are important for muscle building. In addition to the above-mentioned Omega 3 fatty acids, healthy fats can be found in olive oil, nuts, and seeds. Fiber is important too. Get your fiber from vegetables like broccoli and fruits.
Drink water. Lots of it. Water is essential for muscle building. It keeps you full and helps you to stay lean. The easiest way to drink a lot of water is to get a 20oz water bottle. Refill it 5 times a day and you are good. Be warned though, you will see the toilet for most of the day.
Finally, cheat meals. If you have eaten clean for the whole week, allow yourself one or two cheat meals. This is the best time to eat whatever you want and trust me, your body will thank you for it. But remember, it’s a cheat MEAL not a cheat DAY. Do not pig out for the whole day.
Moving on to supplements. Supplements are essential for building muscle, but whey protein powder, creatine and multivitamins are all you need.
Take about 20g of protein powder within 30 minutes before your workout and about 40g immediately after your workout. Take 3g-5g of creatine after your workout. Although creatine is excellent for muscle recovery, be warned that creatine basically adds water to your body. Which means that the results of taking it are only temporary. Take a multivitamin every morning. The micronutrients are important for muscle building.
Rome wasn’t built in a day. Training hard and eating clean takes a lot of discipline and hard work. Do not give up if you do not see the changes in your body as fast as you would like to. Persistence and the will to succeed will help you achieve your goals.
You will stumble along the way. It’s ok, just don’t give up. It took me 6 years to get a healthy body and along the way, I feel like giving up sometimes, but I remind myself that I have already started the journey, why give up now? Keep on going! 🙂