I often find that one of the interesting things about reaching towards my goals is how I get to know all the little training methods, dietary/supplement tweaks and other changes in day to day life that work together to help accelerate progess. Over the last couple of weeks I’ve made a few tweaks in the categories mentioned above and I believe that my progress will not stagnate as a result. I also have a couple of other things I need to put into practice to really help me reach my target bodyweight!
Before I get into the tweaks I’ve made over the past few days I’ll just update you quickly on my progress since starting on this muscle-building mission on Monday 4th June this year. As you may have seen, I started with a bodyweight of 72.1kg. Yesterday morning I weighed myself on the same set of scales and my bodyweight has really shot up quickly, I was amazed to see a reading of 75.4kg, even though I wasn’t feeling particularly well hydrated at the time! Of course I don’t think I’ve gained over 3kg of solid muscle in such a short space of time and I put at least 1kg of that gain down to simply being better fed and having more food in me! However, I have noticed a few subtle changes in my appearance and one of my friends who I train with said I look slightly bigger already. I would guess my actual bodyweight is more like 73.5-74kg, which is still a much bigger gain than expected! This fast initial gain I attribute to having a relatively efficient central nervous system thanks to previous training in the weights room. Because I can utilise my muscle fibres more effectively than someone just starting out and I know how hard to push myself I can make sure that the weight, tempo and form is perfect in every exercise to get the most out of each workout. So, a good start and I’m over the moon!
So here’s the main dietary, supplement and training tweaks I’ve employed in the past couple of weeks -
- More red meat. Red meat, such as beef (grass fed as often as possible), contain plentiful supplies of zinc and healthy omega 3 fats. They assist in normal testosterone production as well as provide ample protein to fuel up and repair in-between heavy sessions.
- More green tea and less coffee. Green tea is fantastic stuff, full of flavonoids which provide a strong anti-oxidant effect. I found coffee would often give me a bit of a crash during a morning training session. Switching to green tea or earl grey has rid me of this and my energy levels in the gym are better.
- Although I take a few different supplements every day, the one I believe has had the most important role in my initial muscle gain has been creatine. I take 5g on non-training days and 10g on training days, split into 2 doses of 5g, one before and after my workouts. It has been shown in many studies that it helps in gaining muscle and strength and although I’ve used it before, it was only ever on training days I used it. This extra creatine, coupled with the supplies I’ll be getting in all the red meat I’m eating, is what I believe has been the most important supplement I’ve been taking.
- Taking BCAAs (branched chain amino acids) during training. I read a couple of Charles Poliquin articles on the benefits of BCAAs. This is a great little tweak you can make to prevent excessive catabolism during sessions and muscle soreness post-training. I take about 25g during the last 15 minutes of my workouts to kick start muscle repair and follow this up about 15 minutes post session with a protein and carbohydrate shake. My levels of muscle soreness are noticeably decreased, I dread to think of the pain I’d be in without them! I’ll put a link to the Poliquin article that convinced me to take BCAAs during training at the bottom of this post.
- More power and speed, less weight. I would guess that I’m one of those people with a relatively good balance of fast and slow twitch muscle fibres. I can run a half marathon in 1hr 46 (which I did in February, with very little training prior), yet can still beat most people I know in a short dash as well. I would guess that now I have finally started using explosive concentric and slow eccentric movements in my training, I have finally stimulated some new growth. Tempo is something I never used to pay attention to, but having read so much recently I would say that it is something that is often overlooked in peoples’ training!
Next week’s training will be sets of 4 reps with a higher weight than what has been used so far. I’m hoping the slightly decreased volume will make the sessions in the gym slightly less nausea inducing than some of them have been so far! Looking forward to stepping it up a notch with the weight, I’ve not ever felt this strong…it feels great.
One last thing, if like me, you are looking to build some muscle, be patient! It doesn’t happen overnight. You need to put in some long, gruelling hours in the gym and eat a balanced and varied diet with ample calories in (which is sometimes harder than the training!). But stay happy, you’ll never quickly build muscle and/or get lean if you’re stressing over it! A positive attitude, as I’ve discovered, is perhaps the most powerful tool you will have as you look to reach any health and fitness goals!
Next post will have more tweaks which I’m putting into practice this week and an update on how my strength has improved.
Cheerio for now!