We as human beings are creatures of habit. Earning gains in the gym by adding muscle and weight are typically seasonal. Another way of saying it is that they are a phase in your training protocol. I don’t care if you are someone who just started working out or if you have been at it for years, periodization of your workout protocol is critical. Many people use this time of year to increase their gains in the gym because we typically eat more, spend more time inside, and because of the cold weather we aren’t typically in bathing suits and similar apparel. These along with other factors create a great environment to hit the gym hard, train heavier than normal, and add 10, 15, 20 pounds or more during this season!
Let’s start with the training aspect: Gains in the gym for the majority of people are not easy to come by. Genetics play an obvious role in this but our training protocol is absolutely critical to create the catabolic effect needed to ultimately recover in a way that stretches your body to grow to be able to handle the type of weight you are attempting to push day in and day out. For example in a gain phase during a leg day I may do 6-7 sets of Squats ultimately finishing with a rep count of around 6. Keep in mind this would be before 4-6 more exercises would be accomplished each attempting in the neighborhood of 4-5 sets a piece. The goal must be to absolutely annihilate a specific muscle group in order for the rest, recovery, and repair process to take effect. ***I will include a sample workout split at the end of this post.
Next let’s look at the nutrition component: It can be argued that the nutrition component could be ranked as the top priority (and I am not dismissing the vital nature of a sound nutrition protocol) but without the necessary training to specifically achieve massive gains in the gym you will not get the body prepared to begin the rest, recovery, and repair process. Nutrition provides the fuel necessary to complete these very difficult workouts along with the vital nutrients (both macro and micro) to recover and get you ready to go back into the gym fresh for your next workout. Now let’s look at some of my top bodybuilding foods. My favorite proteins that I use for gains in the gym are free range eggs, grass fed beef, wild caught fatty fish (like salmon), and an amino acid complex known as Master Amino Pattern. My favorite carbs that I use for gains in the gym are organic sweet potatoes, organic gluten free oat meal, wild rice along with other complex carbohydrates like barley (properly sourced). My favorite fats come from coconut oil, avocados, almonds, omega 3 oils (outside of things like fish I highly recommend a high quality fish oil). ***I will include a sample daily meal regiment at the end of the post.
Finally rest and recovery: To maximize your gains in the gym you must provide your body adequate rest/recovery along with hydration (I will explain why I added the hydration component in this section). First let’s look at sleep. Our bodies need a great night’s sleep to allow for the production of human growth hormone which happens primarily during early sleep. During REM sleep the body is able to: restore organs, bones, and tissue. HGH circulates during this stage of sleep along with the ability to replenish immune cells. Sleep has a profound effect on muscle growth and overall physical well being. I recommend to get about 8 hours of sleep a night to maximize these effects. Hydration through non-tap water is critical for flushing toxins such as lactic acid produced during strenuous workouts. Drinking plenty of water will help with your energy levels and reduce cramping that many people experience due to heavy workouts.
If you are serious about making gains in the gym then give these tips a try. Now stop reading and get to work!
Steve’s bio: Steve Lynch has been working in the health and fitness industry since 2002. Through his career he has owned multiple personal training and lifestyle coaching companies. He has worked with thousands of clients and helped them with designing workout programs and healthy nutrition and lifestyle guidelines to live by. Steve is a contributor for the Lehigh Valley’s largest local television news station WFMZ and conducts live segments as a fitness expert and nutrition coach.