This article provides the basic framework for any successful fitness routine that involves strength training. Use these principles to make your fitness program successful, and to optimize your time in the gym.
Fitness principles are listed in order of priority. Vital principles are listed first; less important matters are listed later.
Follow these guidelines diligently and patiently, and you will achieve your fitness goals.
Eat right, and eat at the right time!
(A good diet) is the most important principle to follow if you want to grow muscle. This is especially true for ectomorphs (aka hard-gainers), but it's true for everyone.
- Never, ever skip breakfast!
- Include a good source of protein in every meal.
- Don't eat carbs at night.
- Eat a nutritious snack immediately after exercise.
- Eat every 2 or 3 hours.
- Don't miss a meal.
Drink plenty of water, etc.
Eating principals are covered in greater detail in an article titled "Practical 'Weight-Loss' Tips". If your goal is to build muscle and reduce fat, a proper diet is much more important than exercise.
You will never reach your fitness goals if you can't gain control over what you eat, when you eat, and how much you eat. This point cannot be stressed enough.
Get plenty of sleep.
Muscle-growth doesn't happen in the gym; most of it happens at night while you sleep.
(A good night's sleep) is important for many reasons, so it may seem redundant to mention it here; but the purpose of this article is to list items in order of importance.
Try to get 8 to 10 hours of sleep a night.
Don't do heavy cardio immediately after weight-lifting:
If you run a couple miles after weight training, you'll un-do most of the progress you just made in the gym. Drink a protein shake, take a walk to cool down, then eat another meal in an hour or so.
Some people do cardio first thing in the morning. If you can get into that kind of habit, I'd highly recommend it. A good run can really jump-start your day!
Lift weights on a semi-regular basis:
I hope you noticed that weight-lifting is 4th on the priority list. Exercise is important, but it's a minor factor, compared to diet and rest. Lots of magazines, fitness facilities, etc. would have you believe otherwise:
Some hucksters say you have to work-out a certain way to build muscle. Don't fall for the hype. It's not true. If you prioritize exercise instead of nutrition and rest, you'll be frustrated with your results.
Been there, done that!
Most beginners won't believe (exercise is only marginally important), so here's an illustration to defend the point:
There are lots of trainers out there with completely different exercise theories, and they each point to proven and dramatic results. Are they lying? No, not really. But all their success stories have this in common: Their athletes ate 5 to 9 meals a day, and they got plenty of rest between workouts.
If you want to look like a model or a bodybuilder, you have to eat right, and at the right time!
It's no big deal if you skip a workout once or twice a month, but never skip a meal, and never skip a full night's sleep!
Get plenty of rest between workouts:
In addition to a full night's sleep every night, make sure you get plenty of rest between workouts. For example: Don't go back to the gym and work your chest if you're still sore from the last chest workout.
This, and other basic exercise principles are covered in an article titled Basic Weightlifting Tips.
Manage your stress:
Stress will hinder your progress in the gym. It's unhealthy, unhelpful, and it can cause you to accumulate fat around your mid-section.
Stress management is also addressed in detail in Basic Weightlifting Tips.
Following these objectives will help ensure your success in the gym. If you get these right, you will see results!
An adult man gain 10 to 14 pounds of new muscle growth each year.(1)
IE: You can gain 50lbs of muscle in 5 or 6 years if you want to.(1)
Been there, done that also!!
I gained 95 pounds in 7 years, starting at the age of 35.
At 6'4" and 42 years old, I got to 275 pounds with a 37 inch waist; And I didn't use drugs - not even creatine.
Be patient and eat well!
This article is a short summary of important fitness principles. Other articles (on SportsFitnessTips.com) go into more detail about various topics. Please contact us if you would like any more information.
Best of luck with your goals both inside and outside the gym.
(1) "You can only stimulate about 10 pounds of muscle growth a year". This is a generalization, of course!
- A teenage boy might gain 15 pounds of muscle simply by getting a year older, so it's very possible for them to gain 25-30 pounds of muscle without drugs, if they eat and train properly.
- A man in his 40s doesn't have hormones coursing thru his veins like a teenager. He might lose 2 pounds of muscle in a year, under normal conditions. A good diet and workout regiment could cause him to gain 8 pounds of muscle, instead of losing 2.
- Women don't have the same level of growth hormone, ect., so they might be able to stimiulate 6 pounds of muscle growth in a year.
These are generalizations so they are not accurate, but they can act as basic guidelines.