How to Train for Leaning

Are you trying to get ready for Spring Break by getting rid of the beer gut? Having trouble preparing that epic beach-bod, even though you’re hitting the gym consistently?

Don’t worry, youngster. The problem may not be in your habit, but rather the way you’re training. Let’s attack this from the beginning.

MAKING THE PROPER ADJUSTMENTS

Lemme guess, you’re looking for a good lean out program after one of two reasons:

  1. You just got done from bulking and want to be ripped.
  2. You haven’t worked out in a long time and want to be ripped.

Those are generally the two reasons, but there could be some I’m missing.

The biggest issue more often than not is in the training practices for the lean out program. The lifting practices in a lean out program and a bulking program and two totally different things.

For example, for a bulking workout, the lifter is trying to lift as heavy as they can even if it is for a short amount of reps for a limited amount of reps. This is because the lifter is trying to increase his strength and thus breaking down the muscle fibers, causing the muscles to grow quicker.

On a lean out diet, the lifter isn’t necessarily looking to lift as heavy as they can, instead they are looking to lift a slightly lower weight more times. This forces the muscles to burn more fuel so that they can keep up with the consistent endurance needs. This causes the leaning-out process.

The Training

As stated above, training for leaning out should be with lower weights but with more reps. Note: This does not mean you should not challenge yourself. Always challenge your lifts and endurance while leaning out, just don’t get discouraged if you don’t max out a lift.

When selecting the proper amount of reps and sets, always start between 10-12 reps and 4-5 sets. These are great base numbers to start out with, they will also help you adjust to what will keep you on track.

The Diet

As far as a proper lean out diet, there are many to choose from. Some diets emphasize low-fats, others no-dairy, and many paleo/low-carb (which as a matter of fact is my type of lean out diet). The type of lean out diet you choose is completely optional to whatever will work best for you, all of us have different responsibilities and time constraints.

Keep in mind that when doing a lean out diet that more sacrifices may be required. Yes, calories will be depleted. However, be sure to always eat enough to fuel your body. Don’t starve your muscles, please!

IN CONCLUSION

Leaning out is considered fun to few, but difficult for many. Yes, the results are amazing, but the road there is quite gruesome. The best thing to do is:

Do your research, get prepared, and get lifting!

How to Lean
Shouldn’t lifting always be this fun?

Mesomorph Training

Ending up our Body Type series, this blog will take a look at the mesomorph body type and some training/dieting tips.

TRAITS OF A MESOMORPH

I’m just going to be honest, if you’re a mesomorph, you’re lucky. A mesomorph is naturally athletic, easily puts on muscle, and burns fat easier than an endomorph. Basically, the mesomorph body type is the best of both worlds in consideration to the ectomorph and endomorph.

However, there are some downsides that come with being a mesomorph. (Oh no? Really?!)

Being a mesomorph means that you probably took a lot of your gains for granted in the beginning (yeah I’m talking to you). Due to this, routines and correcting lifting form can be performed improperly and a diet may not be followed as consistently should. That mean that even though you’re a mesomorph, you can still get injured, not gain muscle, and get fat. (Oh no! Say it isn’t so!).

So to make sure a gift isn’t wasted, let’s dive into some training and dieting tips!

THE TRAINING

Training for a mesomorph should be consistently challenging and go through periodic changes. Always challenge your muscles, especially if you feel as if you’re not getting as much out of your workout. Adapt to your muscle growth and consistently have great form in your lifts, and you’re guaranteed to gain muscle.

Tips:

  • Continuously challenge yourself with both weight and reps. Changing up your workout reps and sets will cause you to consistently push yourself and your muscles.
  • When you train and push yourself, be sure to pay attention to how many rest intervals you take. Increased rest intervals can help you in the long run.
  • Want to burn extra fat? Cardio is a great resource for just that. Unlike the other body classes, feel free to do cardio anywhere between 3-4 times a week.

THE DIET

The lucky thing about a mesomorph is that they can practically eat anything. No really, anything.

Between a bucket of fried chicken and a bowl of ice cream, it is still more difficult for a mesomorph to put on fat like an endomorph. But don’t take this for granted! Many mesomorphs take this great perk in life for granted and completely splurge all the time. Yes, your body burns fats and calories quicker than others, but that doesn’t mean if you eat like a pig all the time that you won’t eventually become one.

Here are some dieting tips to keep you on track.

Tips:

  • Keep your protein intake between 1g-1.5g per pound of body weight, this will ensure that you have the right amount of protein for muscle growth.
  • Your diet should be concentrated on a high protein, moderate fat and moderate carbs. The 40-30-30 ratio is usually an appropriate/average beginner’s diet ratio.
  • If you’re heavier than you would like to be in your current stage, deplete the amount of carbohydrates that you’re in-taking. This will help burn fat, while at the same time not deplete your protein consumption.

IN CONCLUSION

So to put it simple, the mesomorphs are blessed with great gifts of athleticism and muscle gains. However, don’t let this get to your head!

Arrogance and negligence can easily be the undoing of someone who already has a leg up on the completion. Read up on more workout tips and exercises that are specifically built for your class, and get a game plan together for your training.

Do your research, get prepared, and get lifting.

Dumb Bell Curl
                                                   Don’t take a good body type for granted!

Endomorph Training

Following up on our Body Type series, this blog post will look into the endomorph body type and the best ways to train them.

TRAITS OF AN ENDOMORPH

An endomorph is characterized by being stocky, heavy and rounded while easily gaining fat. Although just because the endomorph type gains fat easily, they also have the ability to gain muscle easily. That’s why I like to call this body-type the “double-edge sword” body type. Training will give the endomorph great muscle gains and weight gains, however with each pound of muscle gained, they also gain fat.

FEAR NOT!

With the proper training regimen and diet, an endomorph can easily see more pros than cons in their body type.

So let’s dive in!

THE TRAINING

Training for an endomorph is fun! Not only do they gain muscle easier than an ectomorph, but they can also train their muscles groups more often than most. Keeping both the weight and work high will ensure the best results. Here are some tips to keep in mind with your endomorphic training:

Tips:

  • Strive to keep both reps and weight high while lifting. Anywhere between 8-15 reps will both break down the muscle while burning a lot of calories.
  • Include cardio frequently in your workout. A stationary bike or a fast walk on a treadmill, at least two times a week, would be a good start.
  • Your workouts should be at a high intensity utilizing compound movements. Working out with high-intensity basic movements will increase muscle building and hormones. Such workouts include: squat, bench, dead lift, etc.

THE DIET

The best way for an endomorph to improve their muscle mass in comparison to their fat percentage is to get to the gym! Endomorphs should be in the gym all the time, training repeatedly. Although, just as important as the training is the DIET.

Yes, rest days are important, along with not over training, but the best possible way to do this is to build up muscle mass so that the body has a higher metabolic rate.

Here are some tips to keep in mind with your diet:

Tips:

  • Keep your protein intake between 1g-1.5g per pound of body weight, this will ensure that you have the right amount of protein for muscle growth. At the same time, keep your carb intake limited, not completed depleted but less than your usual intake.
  • Increase your saturated and mono-saturated fat intake. I know, I know, aren’t we supposed to be avoiding fat? Not necessarily. These fats help with hormone levels, and the omega-3 fatty acids help with metabolism and heart function, so don’t be afraid to eat up!
  • Look for foods with a low glycemic index. Eating these foods will help keep glucose levels down, thus keeping the fat gains down as well.

IN CONCLUSION

The best thing to keep in mind as an endomorph is that you’re going to gain muscle easily, just at the expense of some extra fat. Don’t worry! With a proper diet, training program, and cardio routine, you can have great gains and progress!

Have fun, prepare, and get lifting!

Endomorph Training
                                               Train hard and eat right as an endomorph!

Ectomorph Training

So after a request from a reader, I will be writing a three part series of blogs going into greater detail of the different body types and how to train them. Each body type relies on different training regimens to reach maximum potential. If you’re reading this and you’re an ectomorph, this one goes out to you!

ECTOMORPHS

An ectomorph who wants to gain muscle and strength has a significant battle against them. Though the individual may work out a consistent amount, they may find it highly difficult to put on any type of bulk of muscle mass. However, if they do accomplish to put on muscle, the muscle they put on is lean and clean.

So, in consideration to ectomorphs and their training, the three basic topics to always concentrate on are:

  • Diet
  • Lifting
  • Training

WHAT? I SHOULD EAT?

Yes, a lot! For any person training themselves for muscle growth and increased performance, the intake of calories and protein has to be increased. However, ectomorphs need to eat a lot more food than the regular gym goers.  Specifically, someone who has the ectomorph body type should be eating anywhere between 5-6 meals per day (if not more) when on a training regimen.

Clean Eating

Another issue with ectomorphs is that they stress to clean eat just like the rest of the body types. Don’t stress over it! As an ectomorph, your body is going to use more calories and more nutrition that you intake over the amount of another body type. This means you shouldn’t primarily focus on eating cleaner and less calories. Eat a snickers bar, maybe even some fried chicken every now and then. You’ll be okay, I promise.

 Supplements

Ectomorphs respond the best to supplements over other body types. I don’t mean that other body types don’t response well to supplements; I mean that ectomorphs can use supplementation more effectively than other body types. If you’re struggling to put on weight, and your protein intake is low, I would advise getting on some whey protein or mass gainer. This will give your body more resources to fuel growth and endurance.

LIFT HEAVY!

The lifting for an ectomorph needs to be heavy! Okay, not just the ectomorph, every body type should be lifting heavy, but the ectomorph especially! The body builds and gains muscle by causing high muscle tension on muscle groups and fibers. How is this accomplished? Through heavy weights and multi-muscle group concentrated lifting. The key is to concentrate on your heavy compound and multiple compound movements. The muscle movements utilize multiple muscle groups and joints with different lines of movements.

Great Workouts Using this Method

  • Barbell Squat
  • Power Clean/Press
  • Deadlifts

Although I will say don’t do these on the same day. Some of these workouts use the same muscle groups, which could actually hinder the growth process.

TRAIN HARD

Training as an ectomorph has to be consistent and heavy. Concentrate on compound lifts that utilize multiple muscle groups while doing a singular line of movement. Lifting heavy weights in this fashion will ensure a wider spectrum of training, while growing in both strength and endurance. Make sure to have primary concentration on one muscle group per day, to provide the best possible chance of growth. It’s not a problem to workout multiple muscle groups in a compound movement, just don’t overdo it, that will strain the growth progress.

IN CONCLUSION

Training as an ectomorph, whether it be to grow in size, strength, or endurance, is an uphill battle. However, it is possible! Think of it this way, you get to eat more and grow lean muscle over fatty muscle. Focus on lifting heavy, utilizing compound exercises, and eating A LOT, and you’ll be golden!

Ectomorph Training
Ectomorph Training

Where? When? and How?

Dumb Bells
Dumb bells are great workout equipment.

In the beginning phases of this blog, I want to discuss topics that both beginning and current lifters should address in their training programs. We’ve addressed body types, supplements, muscle fibers and eating habits for growing muscle. The next topic I think we should discuss is lifting habits, specifically what an individual should do if they short on funds, space or time.

WHERE DO I WORK OUT?

I love the gym. The gym is a great place to be for someone who enjoys fitness. Everyone is working out, having a good time, trying to achieve their goals, it’s magical. Gyms and other fitness clubs can offer their members an immense amount of benefits. Benefits could include: locker rooms, top-notch workout equipment, trainers, etc.

However, just because you don’t have the money or access to a gym doesn’t mean you don’t have the same potential of success as someone who does. A great workout can be achieved in the home, outside at a park, anywhere! As I said, I love the gym, but I also bought a weight bench and other lifting equipment and worked out from home for almost a full year. I believe I achieved the same results as I would have with a gym, so just because you don’t have a gym doesn’t mean you can’t lift.

WHEN DO I WORK OUT?

So this is a tricky subject. A lot of factors come into play when considering optimal times to workout, such as how mentally focused the lifter is at what time of day and how their work/life activities come into play. If you were to describe in detail how each time of day affects your lifting status, here is how it would look:

Morning

Afternoon

Evening

  • Fresh Mentality
  • Peak of Testosterone
  • Highest Point of Mentality
  • Increased Energy
  • Highest Point of Strength
  • Peak Stamina

So what’s the answer? It’s not really clear-cut. The answer honestly depends on what works best for your schedule and your own mental and physical toughness. I’ve worked out in the mornings, afternoons and at night. Personally, I feel like I do the best in the afternoons. Between the hours of 12PM-2PM I have great mental focus, great strength, and feel like I get the best out of my workout. Alternatively, when working out in the morning I feel as if I’m not focused at all and just want to go back to bed.

See the difference? I will note that plenty of people work out in the mornings, and it works great for them.

HOW DO I WORK OUT?

This is the best part: work out however you please! There are plenty of ways to get in shape, be healthy, and grow. You can use weights in the gym to gain muscle and strength. Someone could run outside to train for endurance and stamina. An individual can train in a club for yoga to gain flexibility. Train however you want, achieve the goals that you want and maximize your potential.

Just be sure to practice good lifting habits and practices for the best results and strength.

IN CONCLUSION

Where you workout, when you workout, and how you workout are all important factors to your personalized training. However, it’s most important that you’re working out and working out safely. Exercising and training are great ways to stay in shape, retain good health, and life a long and happy lifestyle. Place, time and experience should not hold you back from a lifting lifestyle.

Just get out there, set goals, and happy lifting.

Understanding Fast and Slow Twitch

Want to take your training and understanding to the next level? One way to increase positive results from a workout or training program is to better understand the body and its muscle groups. A key factor to understanding these groups is to understand the fast twitch and slow twitch muscle groups, along with how to better train them.

What are fast and slow twitch muscles? Never new muscles twitched fast and slow? Never heard of any of this type of voodoo before? Don’t worry, here’s the basics.

SLOW TWITCH FIBERS (TYPE 1)

Slow twitch muscle fibers, or Type 1 fibers, are the muscle fiber groupings that twitch slowly and are meant for endurance muscles. These muscles have the slowest-contractile speed, highest oxidative/aerobic capacity, smallest cross-sectional area, and lowest glycolytic/anaerobic capacity. Due to their slow contraction rate, these muscles are typically used for endurance activities rather than short-burst power activities.

Activities Using Slow Twitch Fibers

  • Swimming
  • Cycling
  • Long Distance Running

FAST TWITCH FIBERS (TYPE 2A AND 2B)

Type 2A and 2B twitch fibers are regarded as the fast twitch muscle fibers. Type 2A contract the fastest out of the two, while Type 2B twitch intermediately between slow and fast twitch fibers. Twitch fibers like 2A have the lowest oxidative rate and the highest glycolytic capacity, making them perfect for short bursts and power lifting. Type 2B, since they fall in the middle, are generally utilized in between the uses of slow and fast twitch fibers.

Activities Using Fast Twitch Fibers

  • Power Lifting
  • Sprinting
  • Bodybuilding

WHAT DOES THIS MEAN?

Your muscle groups are made up of lots of muscle fibers. No really, thousands upon thousands of muscle fibers. Controlling these muscle fibers are motor neurons, which are connected to the spinal cord and brain. These neurons, both slow twitch neurons and fast twitch neurons, in turn make the muscle groups contract slowly and quickly. When someone does a light exercise, they may only require type 1 fibers. However, when they become exhausted, they may call upon 2A and 2B fibers. There’s a lot going on here, but an individual can become exponentially stronger if they learn how to harness all of their motor units rather than just 1 group.

For example, consider a power lifter. Power lifters are known for their immense strength and power. How do they lift such heavy weights? They have learned to harness the full power of all of their muscle fibers so that they can utilize both short bursts and endurance. Powerful stuff, right?

IN CONCLUSION

A training program utilizes both fast and slow twitch muscle fibers. The body will utilize type 2A and 2B muscle groups for short burst and powerful workouts. Type 1, or the slow twitch muscle fibers, are used for endurance exercises. Learning how to efficiently utilize both types of muscle fibers will ensure maximum gains and muscle stamina for anyone, whether just starting their program and continuing the program.

Should I Take Supplements?

One of the biggest questions out there in the weight training community, especially in the beginners circle, is this: “Should I take supplements?” Well that’s a good question that is not easily answered. Many factors go into the decision on if an individual should take supplements or not, but let’s look at some facts.

What are Supplements?

Supplements are anything used to increase output, gain, or efficiency of a training program. Whether it be protein, mass gainer, creatine, fat burners, you name it, they’re all supplements of some kind. However, several key factors go into the decision of choosing to use supplements or not in your daily routine. Such factors include:

  • Workout Plan/Goal
  • Amount of Food Intake
  • Time Restraints Throughout the Day
  • Financial Accessibility

Supplement Pros

                The fact is simple; supplements can greatly increase the potential of gains and output of any workout program. A great benefit of using weightlifting supplements is that it makes essential nutrients accessible to any athlete. For the busy lifter who doesn’t have the time available to eat the right foods or take in the proper rest, supplements provide a great way to help increase benefits of training.

Supplements can also increase the intensity in which an individual trains. For example, if you’re consistently tired before each workout, and can’t keep up a good pace during your training, perhaps taking a pre-workout would benefit your gains and training. If your metabolism is consistently burning away at your calories and not allowing your body enough energy to form muscle mass, perhaps taking some mass gainer could be an option. The fact is, with the availability of substances today, any need has the possibility of being fulfilled.

Supplement Cons

Although supplements can provide a lot of benefit in a workout program, they can also harm if not consumed responsibly. Overusing weightlifting supplements, or using the wrong type of supplement, can cause anything from stomach pain to organ damage. Included with those aspects are other weird side effects, such as: insomnia, headaches, skin irritation, diarrhea, and more.

However, cons like these are not necessarily meant to discourage anyone from consuming supplements. If used correctly, pros can definitely outweigh the cons. Always remember, if you ever have a question about which supplements are safe to use, as both a trainer AND a doctor (mainly the doctor).

So What Does This Mean?

The number one thing to keep in mind is this: supplements are meant to supplement your workout plan. Read that last sentence again. Supplements are meant to SUPPLEMENT your workout plan. Whether a person is just starting their lifting career or are a seasoned veteran, supplements or other weightlifting vitamins should not be the main ingredient to success.

The best way to reach success is to work hard, be consistent in your training, and have a healthy diet that will boost your program. Whether you choose to use supplements or not, always use hard work as a way to achieve your goals.

Body Types

For people new to the workout scene, the overwhelming amount of information out there can be quite daunting. For example, if you were to search online for simple start up tips, you would see an insane amount of workouts, supplements, equipment, and more pop up on your search screen. That alone could cause someone to tuck-tail and shun exercise in general, it makes people think they’re already too far behind.

Well, you’re not! I can tell you one of the best ways to get a jump start to your exercise routine is to build upon your self-knowledge. By that, I mean learn your body and know what exercises and routines will work best for you. One of the best ways to start is to know your body type.

BODY TYPES

What do I mean by that? There are three body type categories that explain build, muscle, metabolism, etc. Ectomorph, Endomorph and Mesomorph [add]. So let’s just dive in, shall we!

ECTOMORPH

Are you tall and lanky? Skinny and lean? Able to eat a pizza in one sitting without gaining an ounce? You my friend, are most likely and Ectomorph.

 Qualities of an Ecotmorph

  • Skinny/Lean Build
  • Difficult to Gain Muscle or Mass
  • Seemingly Fragile Bone Structure
  • Fast Metabolism
  • Small Shoulder Width

With their speedy metabolism, thin stature and lean build, Ectomorphs find it difficult to put on weight or mass. To help balance the effect of being this body type, individuals should eat more, perform short yet intense workouts for their muscle groups, and possibly take supplements. Prepare to work harder to put on muscle mass, but you’ll lean out easier and faster than the rest.

ENDOMORPH

Are you solid yet soft? Gain fat and put on weight easily? Can you squat a tractor tire without breaking a sweat? You might possibly be a Endomorph.

Qualities of a Endomorph

  • Soft and Round
  • Gains Muscle and Fat with Ease
  • Generally Short and Stocky
  • Slow Metabolism
  • Finds it Hard to Lose Fat

Even though they are generally short, round and stocky, Endomorph find it easy to put on both muscle and fat. Not only that, they usually have strong legs and high weight without having to put in a lot of effort. You may not have to work as hard to put on the mass, but you do have to watch your eating habits to ensure you don’t increase your body fat percentage. Leaning out is a chore, but if you can survive it you’ll look great!

MESOMORPH

Do you have big muscles and big bones? Never worked out yet still have big biceps? Have you ever been accused of being a Greek God after one week of training? If this is you, you’re probably a Mesomorph.

Qualities of a Mesomorph

  • Generally Hard/Solid Build
  • Gains Muscle Mass Easily
  • Athletic Build
  • Gains Fat Easier than Ectomorphs
  • Well Defined Muscle Groups

The Mesomorph body type is the best body type for weight and athletic training. Mesomorphs gain muscle quickly and it shows prominently. They put on great amounts of lean muscle, but they tend to gain fat easier than Ectomorphs. If you’re a Mesomorph, you need to workout hard while watching your calorie intake. This body type may find it more difficult to lean out than the Ectomorph, but the pros definitely outweigh the cons.

IN CONCLUSION

Though these are the three main categories of body types, there can be several combinations. For example, there can be an Ecto/Endo, Meso/Endo, Ecto/Meso, etc. Also, just because you’re an Ectomorph, that doesn’t mean you can’t bulk up. Likewise, just because you’re an Endomorph, it doesn’t mean you can’t be ripped. Don’t let the overwhelming amount of information out there deter you from beginning a worthwhile experience in exercise. Instead, build upon your knowledge and self-awareness so that you can get the most out of your training, and your health.