When you want to be fit or get in shape, there are two things that you need to choose from: do you want to bulk up or do you want to tone down? Skinny people who want to increase their size would consider to eat more and lift heavier weights – this is the most basic concept. Conversely, people who want to cut their size should consider eating less carbohydrates and lift lighter weights with much more repetitions. These ideas are essentially true and could be the most basic way to tackle fitness.
However, fitness is just as much science as it is a physical activity. The idea of “eating more and lifting heavier weights” to get to certain size is much more than what it says. You have to know, “how much is ‘more’ in ‘eating more’?” or, “how should I lift the heavier weights?” or, “how many repetitions should I be aiming for?” In fact, there are certain calculations that you need to do in order to know how much you really should be eating when you want to bulk up. Additionally, this holds true when considering getting down to size.
With that said, you should always go back to science. If you want to know the secrets to size or to shred, learn from doctors and trainers who have devoted their life to knowing the right way to getting fit.
If you want to bulk up, you need to get stronger every day. To be stronger, you have to lift heavier or more intensely as the days go by. To lift heavier, you need energy. To get energy you need food. Additionally, if you want to build your size, you have to supply your body with nutrients. These are the basic concepts of the secret to size.
The human body is a complex collection of tissues, chemical compounds and nutrients. In order to maximize your results in the gym, you must understand how all of these combine to grow your muscles.
The key to the program is periodization, a method that involves changing up your training at specific times to maximize results.
This is how periodization works: you begin with light weights for high reps and progressively change to heavier weights and lower reps. Continuous cycling of those rep ranges keeps your muscles confused, so they don’t stagnate. As such, you keep making progress as you go through each of the three phases. The end result is an athlete who is both stronger and more muscular. For example, in your first week, you do 15 repetitions of a light weight lifting which you then follow the week after with 12 repetitions of an added 5 to 10 pounds of what you did before.
Research shows that periodization with a microcycle application is one of the most effective practices for gaining strength and increasing muscle size. A microcycle is dividing your rep ranges into cycles that allow you to maximize different kinds of intensity. If you use heavy weight for 3-5 reps for several weeks, it trains your muscles to be stronger, but it’s not the best rep range for building muscle growth. Microcycles give you the best of both worlds.
If that’s hard for you to understand right now, think about it this way: Think Phases 1 through 3. Each Phase has four microcycles, which are designated per week. In this way, one phase is four microcycles.
Microcycle 1 is all about really high rep ranges (12-15 reps) but lower weight. Microcycle 2 comes next. It is performed the week after, with the same training program – but with fewer rep ranges (9-11 reps) but with 5 to 10 pounds heavier weight.
Then you go to Microcycle 3 which would range about 6-8 repetitions with 5 to 10 pounds heavier weight than Microcycle 2. Heading into Microcycle 4, you lift really heavy weights with 5 to 10 pounds more than Microcycle 3, but with lower rep ranges (3-5). Now you’re done with Phase 1.
With Phase 2 – which is now a month after Phase 1 – you need to go back to Microcycle 1 (high reps, low weight) but with 10-20 additional pounds compared to Phase 1 Microcycle 1. Then the periodization goes on.
Because of the range of repetitions and weight intensity that you need to endure with periodization, your muscles won’t stagnate, and you get better results in terms of your muscle size and your body strength.
No program is complete without proper nutrition, especially when that program is all about building size and strength. What you do in the kitchen can make or break the results you produce in the gym. It’d be shame to train like crazy and then blow it in your nutrition. Weight loss isn’t just about eating less – it’s more about eating smart.
Protein is critical for both building muscle and as an energy source. Basically, protein is macronutrient that builds muscle. When building mass or shredding, shoot for a minimum of 1 gram to a maximum of 1.5 grams of protein per pound of your own body weight.
Carbohydrates are the body’s preferred energy source, particularly during workouts. Here’s what you need to intake when building muscle: on rest days, aim for 1.5 grams of carbs per pound of body weight. On workout days, since you also have a slow-digesting carbohydrate before the workout and a fast-digesting carbohydrate after the workout, that total rises to about 2 grams of carbohydrate per pound of body weight.
On the other hand, if you’re looking to cut down your size, you need to drop the count of your carbohydrates intake while maintaining the amount of protein that you eat. For example, during the Phase 1 of your road to shred, you take 1.5 grams of carbs per pound of body weight. As you are progressing in every phase, you slice your carb intake until you reach a certain low (at 0.5 grams). By this time, you’d be starving, and it would be unhealthy to bring it down. This is critical when you’re just looking to maintain your carb intake.
Furthermore, here is another nutrition mindbender: do you know that you also need fat? Fats are also known as lipids. Fats provide energy for the body, but they also offer a myriad of health benefits. The essential Omega-3 fats, for example, can support heart health, joint recovery, and can even aid fat loss.
Saturated fats, which normally get a bad rep, also provide a benefit. Research shows that athletes who consume a higher intake of saturated fats, as well as monounsaturated fats (nuts, avocados, olive oil), actually have higher testosterone levels. Fat intake is critical to keep testosterone levels high. For males, that’s important when you’re trying to increase size and strength.
All things considered, you’re going to arrive to the point where you’re calculating calories. The general idea is to have the following calories per weight in kg:
Sedentary men and non-pregnant women: Approximately 31 calories/kg
Male and non-pregnant female recreational athletes: Approximately 33-38 calories/kg
Endurance athletes: 35-50 calories/kg depending on training
Strength-trained athlete: 30-60 calories/kg depending on training
Yes, even if you eat a lot, you can still get fit – provided that you have a good amount of carbohydrates, protein, and fats that’s just right to get fit.