Posts in : tips for building muscle

  • Jul

    Build More Muscle

    Build More Muscle - New Year's ResolutionChances are you’re one of the millions who put “get to the gym more often” as one of your New Year’s resolutions.   While that’s an admirable goal, you need a basic gameplan to make sure you’re  working smarter not harder. Whether you’re a weekend athlete or a true gym rat, let’s review some basics for building muscle in the new year!


    As you begin a new routine, it’s important to build a solid foundation.   The first month or two focus on  building up your abilities, so when you’re mentally ready to hit it hard, you’re body’s primed and ready to go.   Pay attention to pain or weaknesses.   You first goal should be to address any painful joints or extremely tight muscles.  Think of it like putting a coat of primer on your wall.  It may take 2 weeks or 2 months, but it’s absolute imperative.  Yes you want to be building muscle and working out hard, but don’t be a rockstar.


    If you want to put on a ton of muscle this year, building a strong strength foundation is necessary.  For example, if you lack bicep and forearm strength you’ll need to focus on getting the smaller muscles stronger before you can jump into pull ups and rows to work the big back muscles.

    After you’ve addressed any pain issues, this foundation stage is all about getting ready for the hard work.  This is a general fitness time, where you’re focusing on increasing endurance, strength, and power… along with building muscle.  Remember… one of the most important strategies with any workout routine, weight loss program, or strength training goal is to keep a solid mind body connection.  That means don’t just feel the workout physically, but feel it mentally.  Concentrate on the muscle group you’re working and your goals in general.


    Assuming you’ve addressed any weaknesses and built up an amazing foundation, now you’re ready to make a strong run towards reaching the goal of building more muscle.  Go hard or go home!  If you don’t leave the gym everyday feeling completely exhausted, you’re not doing enough.   By the end of the day you will likely feel exhausted.  In the morning, your muscles will be sore and you’ll feel like you were hit by a bus… but sometimes that’s the price we pay for a good weightlifting program.  Good job!  Learn to love it because it means you’re building muscle and on your way to a healthier you!

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  • Jan

    Easy Meals for Bodybuilders or Fitness Buffs

    You’ve heard your Personal Trainer say it a thousand times “eat more protein!” And whether you are a cardio queen who’s focus is weight loss and losing inches around the waist, or a hardcore bodybuilder who wants to add inches to his biceps, this is good advice. Protein shakes and meal bars are great quick fixes for on the go people but the best nutrition sources are real food. No trainer or nutrition supplement rep can deny that.

    Sometimes the last thing you want to do at the end of the day is come home from work and have to prepare yourself a good high protein meal. As prepared as we may try to be, planning out or making meals ahead of time isn’t always easy either. Here’s some great recipe ideas for a low maintenance and high protein meals using a crock pot or slow cooker. (more…)

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  • Aug

    Gain Muscle Strength to Gain Muscle Size

    posted in Fitness Tips

    One of the most common questions I get asked from my Personal Training clients is, “How do I get bigger _____?”  Whether it’s bigger biceps, bigger shoulders, chest, or legs;  my answer is always LIFT HEAVY and LIFT OFTEN!  However, most people are not in peak physical condition and ready to jump right into an intense bodybuilding routine.  To them I impart these seemingly obvious words of wisdom… focus on GETTING STRONGER first.  Looking big may be the goal, but what’s the point If you don’t have the foundation to back it up?  The reality is you need strong muscles to build big muscles and to build strength you have to challenge your muscles and think outside of the box.

    So the next obvious question is “okay smart ass, then how do I get stronger?”  Now you’re asking the right questions! (more…)

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  • Apr

    The Importance of Rest when Weightlifting

    The Importance of Rest and weightliftingRest is a crucial component to any well balanced weightlifting program. Some personal trainers will argue that it’s more important than the workouts themselves!

    To understand the importance of rest when weightlifting you must first understand what’s happening when you’re pounding out those reps in the gym!  When you’re working out in the gym, regardless of the muscle group or exercise, you’re actually tearing your muscle fibers.  The added stress from the weightlifting that is being placed on the muscle is causing the neurons to be ripped apart into what is referred to as micro tears. After any weightlifting workout, it’s important to allow the body an adequate amount of time to repair this “damage” that has been done.

    Your muscles do not grow from training or weightlifting.  Your muscles grow from recovering from the weightlifting that you are doing!  Therefore if you were to return to the gym the next day and train the same muscles again, your workout would be relatively ineffective, and could mean you are defeating the purpose of working out in the first place, because you’re breaking down these muscles again before they’ve had a change to repair themselves.

    The harder you train your body or muscle group, the more rest that they will need to recover and grow.  This is why many professional bodybuilders will not do whole body workouts, but rather focus on specific muscle groups each day.. to allow for proper recovery from each workout.

    Some hardcore bodybuilders even take entire weeks off at a time evyer couple of months just to “shock” their bodies and break any plateaus they may have come to.

    Getting restful and regular sleep cannot be overlooked when discussing the importance of rest when weightlifting.  This is your body’s most “anabolic”state of being.  In fact one of the main purposes of sleep is for the body to heal and recover from the day’s events and stress.  During sleep your body produces large amounts of growth hormones which obviously can help your body burn fat, build muscle, and heal wounds.  It goes without saying, that restful sleep also gives you more energy to work with the next day.  More energy means more effort in the gym!

    Don’t think of rest as slacking off from your weightlifting routine, but rather an important part of your overall bodybuilding or body composition goals. If your looking for the best weightlifting tips or fastest way to lose weight, you should also be looking for the best tips for getting a good night’s sleep.. because that’s when the body is adapting to the lifestyle changes you’re putting it through!

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  • Feb

    Interval Strength Training 101

    Workout Gloves and Strength TrainingWhat is Interval Training?

    Whether you’re a gym rat or a weekend athlete, most of you have a general idea of what interval training is… or at least you think you do!  Working your butt off for a couple sets and taking a rest before your next set, doesn’t count as performing an interval!  You want to burn fat and build muscle right?   Put on your workout gear and weightlifting gloves… and get ready to work it out!

    Own The Zone

                First of all let’s debunk the myth of the “fat burning zone.”   Your body never really is exclusively only burning fat for energy, with possibly the exception of when we are asleep.  You’re almost always burning carbohydrates as well.   The common fat burning zone charts that you will see on cardio machines are not accurate.   The problem with that is you will be burning less calories overall by consistently staying in the fat burning zone. On the other hand, if you have your heart rate way up for the duration of the workout, you will mostly be burning carbohydrates.  Working solely in the fat burning zone means not burning enough calories, while the intense carbohydrate zone will be burning more calories but less fat.

    For example, if you do an hour of “fat burning” you may burn 200 calories with 120 of those calories coming from fat.  If you do an hour of all out training you may burn 400 calories but a very small percentage of those will be from fat.

    If you can find a good medium where you burn a lot of calories and get a good amount of those from fat then you are (forgive the cliché) “killing two birds with one stone”.  This is where interval training comes in.  By jumping the heart rate up to 80-95% your max you will be burning a very high amount of calories.  Then you will allow your heart rate to lower to around 65% by reducing the intensity.  When your heart rate is lowered, you will essentially be hitting the “fat burning zone”.  This cycle will be repeated a number of times, by the end you will have burned as many calories and as much fat from those calories as possible.  The thing many forget to do is lower that heart rate back down before beginning again.


        A few systems I use for interval training are on a treadmill, with a medicine ball or on my favorite, the Versa Climber.  If on a treadmill bump up the incline (anywhere from 5-7%) then increase the speed a half mile an hour every thirty seconds (start at a jogging pace) until you hit that 90% range.  Once there, attempt to stay at that heart rate for 30 seconds to a minute until lowering the speed or incline.  After that you can lower the speed or incline to get down to that 65% mark and keep it there for about a minute.   Repeat that interval three times and then take a two-minute rest.  Try and do at least three cycles of this on your first day.  As you get better at the intervals perform more of them by doing more overall sets or more repetitions within those sets.  The workout will look something like this:

    Run @80-95% max heart rate      Duration: 30-60 seconds

    Jog   @65% max heart rate             Duration: 60 seconds

    Run @80-95% max heart rate      Duration: 30-60 seconds

    Jog   @65% max heart rate             Duration: 60 seconds

    Run @80-95% max heart rate      Duration: 30-60 seconds

    Jog   @65% max heart rate             Duration: 60 seconds

    Rest @lowest heart rate                  Duration: 2 minutes


    Repeat multiple times, attempting to add a set each week.

    Med Ball

              I love the medicine ball because of its simplicity and the amount of great exercises do with it.  My favorite is throwing it against a concrete wall because it is fantastic in developing pillar strength (hips, core & shoulders) and gets that heart rate up.  If you don’t have medicine balls at your disposal then just get a few exercises that are high intensity and easy to transition from one to the next.  Do the same thing, as you would with the treadmill in working until you get to that 80-95% heart rate, maintain it for a minute then lower it to 65% and maintain that for a minute.  You can get a group of exercises and cycle through them doing 10-15 reps of each.  The medicine ball is so great because you will be getting a total body workout and using your muscles a little more than on cardio machines. Don’t forget to wear good Gym Gloves to protect your hands!

               The Versa!

                The Versa Climber is a hard to find piece of equipment but if you see one, this should now be your first choice for cardio.  The great thing is that people rarely use them so it is always open.  As opposed to the treadmill or medicine ball the sprints will be much shorter, lasting anywhere from 5-30 seconds.  Do a sprint and rest for the equal amount of time (work for 15, rest for 15) until your heart rate hits 80-95%.  When you hit that heart rate, rest until you reach 65% your max and then slowly move on the Versa for a minute attempting to maintain that position.


    Although I used pieces of cardio equipment as examples on how to do intervals, don’t limit yourself to just those.  You can run on a track or field, up stairs or even on the beach.  As long as you are manipulating the heart rate in a similar way you will be accomplishing the same thing.

    The Result

                These workouts are really exhausting and you will finish feeling really good about yourself.  Another bonus is that they will be shorter in duration than the typical 60-minute cardio cruise that most take.   You will be burning overall calories and fat calories in high amounts.  An added bonus is that you will be working multiple energy systems, increasing your endurance and strengthening your heart.


                I recommend getting a heart rate monitor strap and watch (my favorite is Polar) to keep track of heart rates. Get a good pair of weightlifting gloves  From there do a testing day where you start jogging on a treadmill and gradually get your heart rate up by increasing speed then incline.  You should raise the speed or incline every minute until you feel like you cannot go anymore.  When you reach your peak and stop, count that number as your max heart rate.  From there you can figure out how high your intense zone (80-95% max) should be and where your recovery zone (65% max) should be.  Intervals are one of the most effective ways to exercise and provide tons of health benefits.

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