the stars are alive, and they are in my reach

the flame flickers, reaching, grasping, waiting with it’s hand outreached.

I consider this the third post in my series regarding adding strength and muscle.  The first post was the challenge that I’m sure you accepted. The second post deals with the progression made so far. This post I will talk about things that you may be doing that in affect could be sabotaging your progress. Will there be more posts in this series? Yeah, I think so. Stay tuned.

It’s what we do

Restless. You want to add the poundage of muscle onto your frame, but you are that type that when in a gym, or anywhere working out you cannot just ‘sit there’ counting the seconds or minutes. You try to take a 2 minute break between sets but no matter what you try you can’t. You find yourself waiting no more than 30 seconds, or maybe a minute. The fact is you won’t be adding the muscle you would like to unless you take that rest. Try it yourself. Look at how much weight you use when resting for 2 to 3 minutes compared to how much weight you currently use between sets. I bet you that with the longer rest you are using more weight each set. Why? Because the body needs that length of time to replenish its energy stores used to lift weight. Rest, slow down, and relax. Enjoy it. You’ll be glad you did.

Minimalist. Are you eating enough or are you eating the same you always have. We know where that has gotten you, nowhere when it comes to adding muscle. If we don’t have the protein intake needed for our muscles to grow, they won’t! Personally, I’d rather be on the side of too many calories than not enough. Once you hit that point of knowing you are consuming too much, you can always scale back.

Enjoy it. I always think this sounds funny when I say it, I love food and I love eating. If you do too, enjoy it more and get in those quality calories. If you can, keep track of the amount of protein you are consuming daily. Try to spread it around too. Don’t try to consume larger amounts of protein in fewer meals. Have that protein always available for your body to use it.

Stress ball. Relax. Yeah, I know. It’s easy for me to say, isn’t it. But it’s true. Stress can be good, it helps us react to threatening situations but if stress isn’t dealt with properly it can be detrimental to our weight gains but worse, it can be detrimental to our overall health. As westerners I think we missed the boat on how to deal with stress, and how to relax. I don’t think meditation gets the respect it should. Hopefully it will now that the technology exists to show the benefits of meditation.

We all need more. Sleep. That’s it. As simple as the word, it really is that simple. You will want to get 7 to 8 hours of sleep a night so the body can rebuild, become stronger, become bigger. That is the goal, right? If you aren’t sleeping, why is that? Do you know? Can you do something about it, maybe the previous point can help? Getting the proper amount of sleep can be tough, I know this because I am there myself. What can you do? Some say if you are going to eat before bed time, eat foods high in protein (a plus) and fat because this will regulate your blood sugar and prevent a rise in blood sugar possibly impacting your ability to fall asleep. When lying there in bed, breathe in through the nose and exhale out of your mouth, nice and slowly. This rhythmic breathing can help to relax the mind and body.

By no means do I pretend to have the solution. I wish I did.

Playback. Are you keep a log of what it is you are doing? No, why not! How is it you know what you did last week, or what you did the last workout? Are you resting the proper amount of time between sets, are you lifting more that the last workout, do you know what you did yesterday? Besides being a great motivator, a log helps you get the most out of your workouts be knowing what you did previously, and letting you know what it is you need to do today. Recording what it is you are doing, number of sets, number of reps, rest, amount  of weight helps you stick to the program and will help you get there quicker. It also allows you to review what you did against what you were supposed to do and make changes if necessary.

Also, a few weeks in you can look back at week one of your log and marvel at the progress you have made.

I wish

I don’t have the pill, I don’t have the magical answers. I wish I did. I can only provide recommendations to you to help you achieve your goal. There is one thing I will say that I think is probably the most important. If you take only one thing away from reading this, take this: Believe in yourself. Know that you can do it. Why? Because you can! I know you and I know what you can do, and you can do this. Don’t ever doubt it.

Yours in health,

Darryl

Outside, every time I look up I am reminded…

If we don’t do it, who will?

How can you get there if you don’t know where you are going?

Where is it you are going? Do you know? I don’t mean a place to travel too, but where is it that you want to be. If you don’t know where it is you are going, than what drives you? Most people need goals. They need goals that can be measured and quantified. Some of us don’t. Some people are quite happy doing the same thing every day without a specific goal. That’s ok. If you are able to push yourself with only knowing that you will continue to get stronger than I guess that can be looked at a goal in a sense. But for some of us a specific goal can do a lot to keep us motivated and keep us going to the gym, or fitness class, or whatever it is you do. Goals can be a great way of keeping yourself engaged.

Lofty

In a previous post I talked about a goal that I had and what I did to keep myself on track to achieve it. Would I have been able to achieve the same results if I didn’t clearly layout my goal? I don’t know. Maybe. I can’t really say for sure because I can’t go back and try to do the same thing minus the goal I had. But I do know that goals help us keep ourselves on track and help us achieve what it is we are trying to achieve. Goals are also a great way of keeping yourself motivated. You can also use goals as a way of rewarding yourself for all the hard work you have been doing.

Some of us are fortunate that we don’t necessarily need goals to keep motivated. I have seen it myself. Some people are so motivated that they can bring it every time they workout. They have such a drive to be stronger and better that they don’t need specific goals. They are motivated already by the desire to be better.

But, if we create goals that are unrealistic we run the risk of defeating ourselves and actually doing more harm than good. We need to keep our goals realistic and achievable.

Goals and sub goals

Goals can be many things. A long term goal can be to increase your body weight with muscle by 20 lbs. This can be achievable within one year more or less based on the number of years you have been training, diet, technique, etc.

But it can be tough to stay motivated for the year trying to achieve this goal. What can be done then to keep motivated and not lose focus of the goal? We can break this into smaller goals.

Breaking this down into smaller goals that we can achieve in less time will help keep the motivation going. Let’s break down this goal of achieving 20 lbs of muscle in one year to gaining 5lbs of muscle every 3 months. Definitely something that seems to be in reach. Or you can break it down further if needed. How about 3lbs in 6 weeks. Yeah, that’s definitely something that seems more in reach. It also allows you to make adjustments to keep on track if needed.

Having these smaller goals will help you achieve the large goal. It comes down to the fact that we need to keep ourselves engaged in what we are trying to achieve. If we don’t break down the goal into smaller goals it’s easy to lose focus on that target and it’s easy to lose motivation. A year is a long time. Six weeks on the other hand is something that we can reach out too, something we can grasp in our hands and hold on to. It’s quite tangible.

Think about it for a minute. Six weeks is easy to measure. Create a calendar for the six week period. Put on that calendar what you plan to do for that day. Live only in that six week period. Don’t look forward to your 1 year goal. There isn’t any need to. If you live in each 6 week period, every period you reach your goal you will have the satisfaction of knowing you succeeded. That is the reward. You should feel really good about that! Take that feeling of satisfaction to the next 6 week period and repeat.

Wow, it’s now one year later. That’s the idea. When you focus on these smaller time slices you no longer see your overall goal as this huge, maybe unachievable goal. An example I can give is my black belt test. I knew I was in for a 7 hour day of hard, physical work. If I looked at that test as a 7 hour test, it would have been very overwhelming. Instead I took each smaller part of the test and focused on completing that segment. 5 mile run, done. Physical requirement, done. Drills, done. And so on and so on. If I didn’t do this, I probably would have been over whelmed by the magnitude of the test.

Realism

Do you know your goal? Is it realistic? I hope so. If your goal is way out there, you’ll never achieve it. Our goals need to be something that we can actually achieve. No matter how we break it down, if it isn’t achievable we will only end up feeling defeated. That feeling of being defeated will do more harm than good. Keep your goal realistic. If you don’t, you can do more harm than good.

Why bother

If you are getting what you need out of your work outs without setting specific goals than good for you. But, I want you to try something. Set a goal. Make it a short term goal. Now do your best to achieve it. I think you will find that your work outs aren’t what they used to be. They are better and they are delivering more results. Funny how that works, isn’t it.

Yours in health,

Darryl

 

 

 

Are you ready?

Neither too late nor too early.

In a sense this post is a continuation of my last post. In my last post I discussed that the only way to know if something will work for you is to try it. That’s because we are not the same, everyone is different. What might work for you may not work for me. In this post I’m going to cover what we can eat before our workout so we have energy and can perform as best as we can.

The foods

I’m going to discuss two things here; the meal you should eat 2 – 3 hours before, and the snack you should eat closer to the workout. They are different because the first meal will come into play much later into your workout and the snack will play a role immediately into your workout.

The first

If you are eating healthy already, a balance of fats, proteins and carbohydrates than you probably are already eating correctly. Eating this balanced meal will help you if your workout is an endurance type or any type of workout exceeding 90 minutes. It’s important that you have fats in this meal as your body will be looking for fat to metabolize for energy. If fat isn’t available it’s more than likely your body will end up metabolizing protein for energy which it will get from your muscles. Probably something you don’t want to happen.

Some foods you can eat for this meal are peanut butter, almond butter, oatmeal (try to not load on the sugar), beans and lentils, dark greens and other vibrant coloured vegetables, toast with honey or pure jam.

The last

The last food you eat before working out should be a snack high in carbohydrates. You will want to avoid fat and protein as it will take longer to digest, and you don’t want that blood going to your stomach aiding digestion while working out. We need that blood feeding our muscles oxygen during our workout.

But we do need to eat. Maybe that is why some people, or maybe most people don’t eat before working out because they tried this and ate the wrong foods and the results were negative.

Some people may argue that they are still working out, pushing themselves so they are still growing as far as fitness and health goes. Not necessarily true. If your body doesn’t have the fuel to aid your workout, your body is forced to slow down. It cannot perform at that level without getting the fuel it needs. If you have read my posts on high intensity workouts, you know that you get the most benefits working out in this zone. If you have to leave the high intense zone because you run out of fuel and have to drop down to the medium or low intense zone you are no longer getting the benefits. Secondly if you don’t have fuel your body will metabolize what it needs to, muscle. That’s 2 big negatives to not eating a snack before your workout. I’ll even add a third to try to convince you. You’ll feel like crap when you run out of fuel. We have all been there. Working out and dragging our ass through the workout. Afterwards all we want to do is nap. Not a great feeling. Wouldn’t it feel great if you could go through the whole workout feeling pumped, full of energy, and ready to push yourself further? No kidding! Those are the workouts we remember and feel great about.

So what can we eat 30 minutes before training. Carbs. Foods like dates, bananas, oranges, raisins, apples, pears.

Remember that this is a snack and not a meal. If you eat too much your stomach will be busy digesting the food during the workout and you want to avoid that. You will probably have to experiment with what to eat and how much to get the right balance.

Now is the time

Try it.  I think you may find this to be one of the most beneficial things to try for your training. What do you have to lose? Nothing really if you think about it. Lets start getting away from the thinking that we eat 3 meals a day, don’t drink water during a workout, and other myths. A lot of these myths do harm to our body. Ultimately it’s you who will benefit. And everyone else will be looking at you in awe, wondering how you have so much energy!

Yours in health,

Darryl