Early Bird or Night Owl, Does it Really Make a Difference?

FIRST THINGS FIRST

First, I would like to apologize for this post being delayed so long after the previous post. Due to changing conditions in my work life, I have had to take a sabbatical from my writing for the month of May. Through the month of May I have changed jobs, cleared my head, and gotten better muscle gains.

So now, I’m ready to get back to my writing and provide you with your weekly dose of Is This Lifting? Let’s get to it!

I AM NOT A MORNING PERSON

There it is right in the title. I am NOT a morning person. It takes well over a pot of coffee, two hours, and a complete absence of fluffy bunnies and dandelions for me to wake up on the right side of the bed in the morning.

With that being said, I have become completely accustomed to working out in the evening. In the evening I have had my coffee, I have gotten through my work day, and right after I can eat enough food to feed a small family (what can I say, I love to eat).

Morning of Afternoon Workout
I’m just like this kid. I would be grumpy while eating a pop tart.

And then things changed…

Good Morning Beautiful

I changed jobs, and now I have to be bright eyed and bushy tailed by 6AM every day (can you hear the sadness in my voice). The new job is great, and I’m getting the opportunity of a lifetime to work for this company, but now my hours have completely changed.

And did I mention that my new job requires lots of heavy lifting and constant moving? It’s like I’m exercising for 9-10 hours every day, so I definitely don’t feel like hitting up the gym at the end of my day. So now, I have to be in the gym early in the morning every day before the sun has even woken up (is that even possible?)

What is this madness!?

Is This for Better or for Worse?

Now I’m wondering if I’m going to lose muscle or plateau because of my time change. I’ve been down this road before, I’ve tried to work out in the mornings, and I was terrible at it. I was tired, groggy, and didn’t feel nearly as focused as I needed to be. I perform a lot better in the afternoons, after I’ve been awake for a few hours and have gotten through my workday.

Now I have to make the change, and I will do so accordingly if I don’t have a choice in the matter. But the big question is am I going to lose muscle mass due to changing the time I am working out?

You would think that it doesn’t have an effect, but of course it does. Let’s take a look at the differences of working out in the morning or the evening.

The Early Bird Gets the Worm

Morning of Afternoon Workout
Look at that worm! It has to have a lot of protein!

Working out in the morning has a lot of advantages for those of us who can actually get up early and function. For the early bird, early mornings are an opportune to put on muscle mass while your body is still benefiting from sleep. Not to mention, you get the workout out of the way early on in your day so that you can focus on other priorities through the rest of your day.

Here are some key benefits for getting your workout taken care of in the morning:

  • Morning exercise may help in fat burning and fat loss, partly due to higher than normal testosterone. It also helps that your body has not had much food to process yet, and may turn to fat for energy instead.
  • The morning has the most potential for building muscle because testosterone is critical in protein synthesis and for rebuilding muscle fiber damaged in weight training.
  • In the morning we have greaterfocus, which may allow for greater mind-muscle connection and greater efficiency of muscle work done.

The Night Owl Can Achieve Anything

Morning of Afternoon Workout
What a night owl! So majestic, so muscular, so owl-y!

For those of us that like to work out in the afternoons (*cough cough*) there are plenty of advantages for you as well! For the individual who prefers to work out in the afternoons, you have the opportunity to benefit from a higher pain tolerance, alertness, and attention. Here are some great benefits to working out in the afternoons:

  • The evening has the best potential for strongest performance. This is the time of day when the body is in peak condition for physical activity.
  • Working out at night increases ability to absorb nutrients on a cellular level. It also gets your body prepared naturally for sleep.
  • Plenty of focus after being done with the workday, so you can be less distracted.

IN CONCLUSION

So there you have it! What works best? Well that’s tough. By all the things described, it’s hard to give a definite answer, even though most people prefer to train in the evening. However, the best time to hit the gym is the time that suits you and your goals the best! Adjust your diet, training, and workout plan according to your gym time and you should be golden!

Do your research, be prepared, and get lifting!

In Sickness and In Health: When to Give in to the Sniffles

MAN, AM I STUBBORN

I’m sure you could have guessed this just from reading a few of these blog posts. Indeed, that stubbornness extends farther than just in the gym. It’s hard for me to stay of the gym, whether it be soreness, injury, or even sickness.

When am I too sick to workout?
Yep, that’s me, stubborn to the bone!

With that being said, I truly push myself to be the best that I can be, in and out of the gym. So when I get sick, I don’t necessarily react the best way possible…

It’s Not That Big of a Deal

What am I, a sissy? It’s just a tickle in my throat. It’s not too bad.

I’m going to make this perfectly clear: I will not let sickness keep me away from my gains! Though I may have the sniffles, I’m still going to lift heavier than I’ve ever lifted before! Grow stronger than ever imaginable! Crush weights that try to stand in my way!

HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA!

Now It’s a Big Deal

Okay, now I’ve  become a sissy. Call me an ugly-duckling because I feel HORRIBLE.

When am I too sick to workout?
No lie, I’m a sissy when I’m sick.

I’m not sure how I got to this point, but now I can’t get out of bed. I’m truly amazed at how the sniffles turned into the full on flu. I couldn’t eat, could barely sleep, and was doing a better job at keeping things out more than in (sorry for the TMI).

So where did I go wrong? Why am is my body become a sess-pool of nasty.

 WHEN TO REST AND WHEN TO WORK

The key to knowing when to rest and when to work is leaning and listening to your body. Sure there are some situations when it’s acceptable to work out and exercise. However, there are more frequent situations when dealing with sickness when you cannot engage in exercise at all.

You should note however that in most situations, it is not okay to exercise due to the fact that your body does not concentrate on getting better, instead it focuses on repairing muscle tissue. Although there is no clear scientific explanation sickness and working out, let’s explore some situations when it’s okay to exercise.

*Note: I am not a doctor. I know how my body operates and which situations I can lift and when I cannot. With that being said, the rest of this blog should be considered advice from personal experience(s), and not actual certified/professional recommendations.

Situations When It’s Okay

Thomas Weidner, head of athletic training at Ball State University, believes a great way to know when it’s acceptable to exercise is to perform what’s called a neck checkWhen conducting a neck check, you to whether to exercise or not if your symptoms are above the neck. Such symptoms include: sneezing, sore throat, and runny nose. This conclusion can be taken from two different controversial studies where subjects were infected with the common cold. The subjects were in a controlled environment, and their symptoms were no worse (or better) for exercising while being sick. In fact, the group that exercised, versus the group that didn’t, reported feeling slightly better after exercising (possibly from endorphins).

So, if you’ve got a simple head cold, it’s generally acceptable to workout, just try not to push yourself past your limits.

Situations When It’s Not

This isn’t going to come as a surprise, but some key moments to realize when you’re way too sick to workout is by listening to your body. Such situations include: when you can’t keep food down, you have a fever, you’re contagious, and those are just to name a few. You’re body is obviously up-in-arms with sickness, and working out is definitely not going to help anything.

In times like these, you need to “lean” into your sickness. Accept that your sick, stay home, and rest up. Your body needs to focus on healing itself from its sickness, not repairing muscle tissue.

Always consult a doctor if you have any questions.

IN CONCLUSION

Should you workout while you’re sick? No. It’s just not smart and can do more harm than good. However, if you have some serious goals that you need to achieve, the sniffles aren’t going to cause you enough issues to worry about. Listen to your body, if lifting is going to cause you significant strain, then rest up. Always consult a doctor if you have any questions.

When am I too sick to workout?
Always ask a doctor if you’re concerned about your health.

Do your research, get prepared, and get lifting!

Why Are Their Arms Bigger Than Mine?

YOU CAN’T BAN THESE GUNS!

Check out these bad boys! I’ve been putting some serious work into my arms over the past few months, and it shows!

How to get bigger arms
Look at those guns!

Don’t get me wrong, I’m not a cocky or arrogant person, you just have to understand what I came from. My arms were absolutely tiny when I first started working out. Finally I had started to put on some serious mass.

So there I am, minding my own business, admiring my handy-work in the free weight section of my gym, when I hear gigantic footsteps creep up behind me…

Those Things Are Monsters

BOOM! What are those!?

Standing next to me in the free weight area of the gym was a 6’ 4” monster with arms bigger than my head. He obviously knows something I don’t, because this is insane! While I’m trying to calmly curl my thirty pound dumb bells, this freak of nature grabs two 50 pounders and heaves them with ease.

How to get bigger arms
Are you kidding me?

After seeing what could only be described as a strong man competition right beside me, I had only one thought on my mind…

Wow, I Really Am Puny

Indeed, my arms did look really puny.

Don’t get me wrong, I’m not a Debbie-Downer, but seeing this guy’s monstrous arms was definitely an eye opener for me. It didn’t just make me question the size of my arms, but my workout, diet, genetics, life, luck, you name it.

I had truly put a lot of work into my arms and really couldn’t understand why they weren’t growing into the muscular-atrocities that I always wanted.

HERE’S THE TRUTH

There are many different variables that go into someone’s arm size. So many in fact, that it becomes very difficult to try and pin point what makes them grow or not grow (per individual).

In this blog post I want to go over two aspects that I believe cause the most success and frustration when growing arms. The first will be over-working of the arms. For some people, it works great, and it seems like the obvious answer to growing arms because it generally has a success rate in other muscle groups.

The other aspect I want to talk about is genetics. That’s right, the cellular map of how an individual is wired together holds another key component to how your arms grow.

Let’s get started.

Over-Working Doesn’t Help

You may be thinking, “Hey! I’ve never worked out before and I’ve worked on my arms five days a week for the past 2 months and they’ve grown like crazy!”

Well, to sum up my response: DUH!

If you’ve never worked out before, especially if you’ve never worked on your arms, of course they’re going to respond to the stress by growing. Your arm muscles aren’t used to being put under that constant pressure and strain so naturally they grow to accommodate.

However, this is just a phase and won’t last long. Your arms are a smaller muscle group that doesn’t require an extreme amount of work to grow. Yes, you should work out your arms on a weekly basis, but working them out several times a week is going to do more harm than good.

Unless you have the genes of a Greek God, your arms aren’t going to respond well to constant-extreme-strain. Check out my previous blog post about growing your arms here.

Speaking of God-Like Genes

I know it doesn’t sound fair, but some people are genetically built to grow muscle better than other people.

Your genes play a HUGE role in how your muscles grow. Some people barely have to try to put on an ounce of muscle, while others can put their whole heart and soul into training and still and won’t gain anything. A big reason why body builders are so big is because genetics in their DNA are specifically coded to build muscle. Like it or not, it’s just genetics.

How to get bigger arms
God-like genes, more like Zeus-like genes.

The best way to overcome this issue is to identify which body type you are and then adjust your training and diet accordingly. If you would like more help, check out my previous blog on body types here.

IN CONCLUSION

SO, why are their arms bigger than mine? As you can see, there are many different reasons (I tried to cover two of the biggest). Another thing to remember is that someone who has bigger arms is most likely at a point in their training when they have worked hard for their arms. The key to growing your arms and getting to your goals is to not get discouraged and to keep training.

What is another way to reach your monstrous-arm goals?

Do your research, get prepared, and get lifting!

Sleeping Through Muscle Gains

THERE AIN’T NO REST FOR THE WICKED

Is Sleep Important for Muscle Gain?
Ain’t no rest for the wicked!

Let me first start out by asking not to sue me for copyright infringement, the lyrics are great but I don’t have money to pay for that lawsuit (indeed).

Secondly, there is indeed no rest for the wicked (not that I’m a wicked person).

Imagine a college-aged me, back in the beginning days of my training. I was going to school, working two jobs, and working out 5 days a week. I was truly pushing myself to my limits, and I felt great in doing so! While I was pushing myself so hard, sacrifices had to be made. Since I was doing dark magic with my math homework, and making money frying fast food chicken, sleep had to be sacrificed.

That’s no biggie to me. I’m a macho man, I can handle it. However, my workout buddy started to notice that I was showing up later and later to our morning workout (which began promptly at 6:30AM). He noticed how slow and bogged down I had become. From there, he gave me some of the most shocking news I had ever heard…

What Do You Mean I Have to Sleep?

Wait, what?! Didn’t you just read the beginning of this post? I’m going to school, working two jobs, and working out five times a week! In between all the homework I was completing and fried chicken I was cooking, I didn’t have time to sleep!

On top of all that, how important is sleep? It’s sleep for goodness sakes! I’m in my early 20’s so sleep should definitely not be a priority. But on top of that, how is dreaming of dandelions and butterflies truly important to my muscle gains*?

*Don’t judge me, sometimes you need a little dandelion and butterfly in your life.

SLEEP IS VITAL

Here’s the deal, Sonny Jim (wouldn’t it be funny if a Jim were actually reading this post right now?) Sleep is vital, I repeat, vital to muscle gains. Not only does sleeping help your body and mind rejuvenate, but it also helps give you a chance to shut down and distress.

Is Sleep Important for Muscle Gain?
Shouldn’t you be sleeping?

During sleep, it has actually been proven that your body repairs and replenishes the cells and muscles that have been breaking down through training. In other terms, during rest and sleep our muscles are growing.

But don’t take my word for it, let’s take a look at the science behind sleep and muscle gains.

The Science Behind Sleep and Muscle Gain

Sleeping is very important for muscle gains for several different reasons. First, sleeping rests the brain, which for bodybuilders means they have vital mental alertness during the day, and training. Studies show that during REM sleep, proper functioning of the brain and alertness is assisted.

Also, human growth hormone is also released under the conditions of sleep, 60%-70% for men during their deepest sleep cycles. These deep sleep cycles are extremely important to gaining muscle and the growth of muscle tissue, poor quality of sleep can prevent the amount of growth hormones released.

Taking a look at the sleep cycle, we can observe that we actually hit several key cycles while we sleep. Most people go through at least 5 cycles per night, each ranging between 90-100 minutes. A lack of these stages could cause: memory loss, lack of rest, and slowed brain activity.

Lastly, research has consistently shown that REM sleep (Rapid Eye Movement), actually allows the body to rejuvenate and repair: organs, bones, tissue, immune cells, etc. So to say that sleep isn’t vital to a workout plan is to blatantly disregard a key proponent of any regimen.

 How Much Sleep Do I Need

That’s a tricky question. Everybody is different and everyone goes through different tasks throughout the day. Between 8 hours of work, 8 hours of play, and 8 hours of sleep, the 24 hours of the day are pretty much set in stone. In fact some people work more, or have more tasks than play, and can’t sleep for 8 hours. To keep it simple, research shows that the average person requires between 7-9 hours of sleep daily.

Is Sleep Important for Muscle Gain?
Yep, sleep is important.

How do we ensure this amount of sleep? Here are some helpful tips!

  • Do your best not to over sleep, even on the weekends. Sleeping in is good, but sleeping 12 hours isn’t.
  • Exercise consistently (which I’m assuming you are if you’re reading this blog). This naturally makes you want to sleep more.
  • Try to avoid caffeine, sugary foods, or alcohol (God forbid) at night.
  • Avoid pills or medication that help you sleep. It sounds good at first, but it causes issues with your sleep cycle(s) in the long run.
  • Relax before going to bed. Keeping the mind at ease before sleep helps your body fall into a place of rest.

IN CONCLUSION

Sleep is vital to any training regimen, and should be considered as such. Trust me, I didn’t necessarily know sleep was truly detrimental until researching for this post, but science doesn’t lie. Sleep helps you body rejuvenate, repair, relax, and get ready for the next day of training you have ahead. Let’s keep it simple, don’t stay out all night, instead stay home every now and then and get some much needed shut eye.

What else can you do to help you training?

Do your research, be prepared, and get lifting!

 

 

Is Time in the Gym Important?

I’VE BEEN HERE FOREVER!

Does Time Really Matter?
True story, I’m a drama queen.

Okay, I’m a drama queen (self-admitted). I was in the gym for around 40 minutes and had really been feeling the burn (burn baby burn!). After 40 minutes of pushing myself, I really thought I was getting a great workout!

In fact leaving the gym, the soreness alone was killing me. However, I felt accomplished and as if I had really done something great in the gym that day.

Walking into my home, I spoke to my roommate about my workout (yes, back in those days I had roommates). And do you know what he said?

“Dude, there’s no way you had a good workout! You were only there for 40 minutes!”

Hold Up

Wait a minute! 40 minutes may, or may not, seem like a decent amount of time for some people. If you’re in a amusement park and eating loads of candy, 40 minutes isn’t a long amount of time. If you’re crunching numbers for the tax breaks for a business, 40 minutes is an eternity.

To make a small story short, I thought 40 minutes was killer for a workout!

Who was this Heffalump (look up Winnie-the-Pooh) to tell me that 40 minutes wasn’t nearly enough for my workout?

I Really Pushed Myself

No really, I seriously pushed myself. When this story took place, I was still in college and had a two-hour timeframe to get my workout completed at the school gym, complete my homework, and get to class on time. That means, I had just about 45 minutes to an hour to get a great workout in before I had to get to class and cram before the professor walked in.

Does Time Really Matter?
Totally not me, but I did push myself!

What was so wrong in completing a workout within a short time frame? I had always thought if your muscles were sore afterwards, and if it was hard to write calculus notes during class (I was trying to be an engineer for a while) that your workout was great.

Instead, I’m being told that my workout wasn’t possibly going to work because I wasn’t working out LONG (time frame wise) enough.

Help?

DON’T CONCENTRATE ON TIME

Look here, Biscuit (I’m running out of nicknames, okay?) Time isn’t everything when it comes to a workout and it’s efficiency. Don’t get me wrong, if you walk into a gym and jump on a stair master for 5 minutes then walk out and eat a doughnut, then you may be doing something wrong.

However, walking into a gym and determining your success of failure based upon your time spent there is horrible! Here’s how.

Time Isn’t Everything

Here’s the deal, Buttercup (see how I didn’t call you Biscuit?) Time definitely is not everything when it comes to working out. In fact, plenty of bodybuilder advisors and bodybuilders themselves advise in quality of quantity. This in fact means that you should focus more on getting a beneficial workout over a long workout.

Plenty of people can walk into the gym, spend two hours working out/taking breaks/using the bathing/conversing with friends/blah blah blah, and think that they got a great workout. They’re wrong.

You’re workout success completely depends upon how you push yourself while you’re in the gym.

In All Honesty

The best way to get a great workout in the gym is to truly push yourself while in the gym. In full disclosure, I don’t spend less than 45 minutes in the gym. I have a short time frame to get the best I can out of my workout before I have to head to another engagement. I spend 30 minutes on some serious, concentrated weightlifting, and then 15 minutes on cardio.

That works great for me. I focus while I’m in the gym and get the absolute best amount of training I can within that time frame (depending on if I go back in to the gym later on in the day or not).

If you don’t think I’m telling the truth, I advise you to look at the Kris Gethin workout, DTP. This workout is tough, really tough. It’s so tough that it is my favorite workout to complete when I’m entering lean-out season. The purpose of the workout is to build lean-mean muscle while pushing yourself. The time frame for each workout: 45 minutes.

Does Time Really Matter?
Time and muscle are important, but don’t get them confused!

Is that a coincidence? I think not.

IN CONCLUSION

I’ve heard of people getting an insane workout within 20 minutes. I’ve also heard of people who say they can’t get a good workout unless they’re in the gym 2 hours. The benefit of your workout is most definitely not dependent upon how long you are in the gym. The benefit of your workout is definitely based upon how well you concentrate and push yourself while in that workout timeframe. The best way to get a great workout is to not spend a ton of time in the gym, but what you do with your time while you’re in the gym.

And how do we make sure we’re spending that time wisely?

Do your research, get prepared, and get lifting!

Why Isn’t My Running Program Putting on Muscle? Help!

I’VE BEEN WORKING OUT…WHERE’S MY MUSCLES?

If you’ve read any of my Beginner’s Journey blog series (which THANK YOU by the way if you have) you would know that I started my serious training as a New Year’s resolution. No, this isn’t my tragic story of how I really screwed up my puny arms, this is 6 months in the future when I decided to truly work hard on my training.

Problem is, I still had no idea what I was doing (big shocker there).

Sure, I knew how to watch my food intake and what foods I needed to eat over the others. However, I didn’t know the essentials to building muscles. So what did I do?

I Ran…

…I ran a lot.

What can I say? That’s all I knew how to do! You don’t have to look up a “how-to” guide on how to get on a treadmill and not fall.

why is my running not putting on muscle
Totally not me…maybe…

The apartment complex that I was living at during this time had a rinky-dink treadmill that was perfect for a paper weight (You thought I was going to say running, huh? Jokes on you!) Though it was terrifying, it did great for a beginner like me. So in my trusty shorty-shorts (I feel like I’ve mentioned them in every story so far…) and beat up off-brand shoes, I ran to my heart’s content.

It was great, I was running consistently six nights a week really pushing myself to get better times. There was only one problem…

I Wasn’t Putting on Muscle

Don’t get me wrong, I was losing fat and my legs were getting toned. However, my goal wasn’t to be a marathon runner, it was to be the next Terminator (please don’t come after me for copyright infringement!). So why wasn’t my running routine putting on muscle for me? I mean, technically it should be putting on huge amounts of muscle since it’s working out…right?

Well, yes and no.

Yes, running is working out. In fact, running is perfect for your heart, legs, and lungs. At the same time, it’s not too good if you’re looking to put on pounds of lean mass and muscle. You see, when you’re running your body is utilizing its glycogen storage to help fuel your body. Too much running and you run through your storage. Sadly that means not as much muscle mass.

HOW DO I TURN THIS AROUND!

I wasn’t putting on muscle like I wanted to but I was getting leaner. All in all there were really no negative aspects of what was happening. But I wanted to get bigger by putting on muscle!

So I turned it around by hitting the weights (not with my fists, that would hurt and is counterproductive).

I started with simple circuit workouts, I was a beginner so I really just wanted to get my body used to the work rather than push it to the limits. I was doing everything from dumb bell chest workouts, to lat pulls for my back, to leg extensions for my quads.

why is my running not putting on muscle
Definitely me this time.

And How Did That Work Out For You?

It worked out great! Eventually I switched over to a better regulated workout plan instead of the circuit plan, but it was a great start to my muscle building!

I was shocked at the small amount of weight that I could lift in the beginning. For real, it was sad. At the same time, I was shocked at how quickly I was able to build upon my practices and habits to where I was lifting more weight and more reps during my workouts.

Not only that, but I was gaining muscle at a better pace than when I was running. Again it was a win-win situation, but changing my routine was definitely the right way to go.

IN CONCLUSION

Running is not meant to build muscle the way that I wanted to. Running is great for toning your legs, building on your cardiovascular health, and training your lung endurance. However, I wouldn’t trade running for a consistent amount of time before I actually switched over to a weight lifting program. From running I was able to shed a few pounds and see which parts of my muscles groups that I needed to work on the most. Who knows what would have happened if I didn’t work on a running program before a lifting program.

In hindsight, it was great that I started running before lifting; it just wasn’t a part of the goals that I was looking for at the time. If you’re running into the same issues with your workout plan (no pun intended) try taking the heavy cardio out of your training, I assure you that you will see the difference.

You know what would have saved me lots of time and headache? This:

Do your research, get prepared, and get lifting!

why is my running not putting on muscle
Next step, this barbell!

Why Are My Arms Not Growing? Can They Get Any Smaller?!

OH BIG ARMS, WHERE ARE THOU?

Have I ever mentioned that my arms used to be abnormally small? It was pitiful, I had the tatas that should have required a sports bra and the arms that a butterfly could crush (Now that’s a story for another time).

Twas a sad state that my arms were in, and people didn’t mind letting me know about it. But could I blame them? Society has determined that men have to have big arms (Because let’s face it, one day you’re going to have to lift a boulder to save a family of bunnies).

So what did I do? I became determined to get the biggest arms possible no matter what the cost! If anyone was going to save a family of bunnies, it was going to be me!

Why are my arms not growing?
Look at that bunny!

Time to Get Big Arms!

In case you didn’t read my earlier blog post about how I started my lifting journey (it was tragic), I had no clue how to get bigger arms (see that tragedy here). In my mind, getting big arms required two things:

  • A heavy dumb bell.
  • Lots and lots of reps.

So what did I do? I put on my trusty shorty-shorts (don’t judge me) and grabbed my 20lb dumb bell and went to work! And man, did I work!

I was blasting through reps, using every muscle I had, and grunting like a yeti in the Himalayas (they do exist)!

What I Did Wrong

Unbeknownst to me, I was trying to build arms in the worst possible way. By the worst way, I mean in the way that was going to not only cause me pain but also prevent my arms from growing. I didn’t do any preparation ahead of the workout, or research how to perform the lift, and it cause me a lot of pain.

Boy, was it intense pain.

My puny arms couldn’t take the intense amount of reps that I was trying to pull off, even if it was only 20lbs. My form looked as if I was trying to do the funky chicken instead of a bicep curl. The horrible form resulted in me getting wicked tendinitis in both my elbows, and my puny arms weren’t able to lift anything for a substantial period of time.

Why are my arms not growing?
Not a bad representation of my arms back then…

HERE’S HOW YOU REALLY BUILD ARMS

The secret to building arms is not in a high volume of reps, but low volume of reps with fantastic form. Here’s the thing, your arm muscles are not naturally large muscles covering a large area of your body. In fact, your biceps cover one-third of your arm, while your tricep covers two-thirds. For a muscle group that is this size, a high rep count is not the way to build.

If you work out a muscle group like your arms too much, you’re only hindering your repair and growth. That’s a big no-no when you’re trying to grow.

A great example for building arms is to practice your form and practice with a smaller weight. Also, you should concentrate more on your triceps than your biceps. Why? Look above: your triceps cover two-thirds of your arm. See how that makes a difference?

Arm Building Workout Example

Dumb Bell Bicep Curl

2 Sets of 8 Reps

1 Set to Exhaustion

French Curl

2 Sets of 8 Reps

1 Set to Exhaustion

Hammer Curls

2 Sets of 8 Reps

1 Set to Exhaustion

Tricep Kick-Backs

2 Sets of 8 Reps

1 Set to Exhaustion

T-Curls

2 Sets of 8 Reps

1 Set to Exhaustion

Tricep Press

2 Sets of 8 Reps

1 Set to Exhaustion

Keep in mind, everybody has their own way of building arms and knowledge of exercises that work best for them. However, this is a great example of lifting a small amount of reps with a moderate amount of weight and great form.

Use this motto when building arms: less is more!

IN CONCLUSION

I made a lot of mistakes when I first started my lifting journey. In fact, I didn’t know the proper way to lift and build my arms until a significant time had passed. Here’s what could have saved me: actually reaching out and trying to gain more knowledge on how to lift properly.

When it comes to your arms, less is more! Attack the right muscle fibers with the right consistency, without over working them, and you can build great arms in no time. So, to end this blog off in the Is This Lifting? way:

Do your research, get prepared, and get lifting!

Why are my arms not growing?
Get to it!

The Key to Success: Consistency

SUCCESS TAKES WORK

My workout structure and dieting was very hit and miss. By hit and miss I mean a total train wreck that consisted of a tub of cookies, garlic bread, and pushups every now and then.

To a sane person, that sounds like nonsense. To me, it sounds like the jagged beginnings of my workout adventure.

Why the Tub of Cookies?

That’s not a joke; I really had a tub of cookie dough that I ate through the course of a month (best birthday present ever). Cookie dough, garlic bread and fried chicken were the epitome of my diet back then. I’m not saying I ate bad all the time, but I had no idea how to eat right and what foods would work best to aid me in reaching my goals.

Honestly, I would stray away from the fried foods every now and then. However, school and work would take its toll on constantly, and I would find myself buried in a tub of triple-chocolate chip.

Sad but delicious.

Cookie Dough Dieting
You can’t tell me this doesn’t look good.

You Only Did Pushups?

No way! I did pushups AND crunches. I wasn’t going to try another curl after that horrifying adventure (laugh at my pain here). Pushups just seemed like the next viable course of action for a guy like me. Tiny arms, flabby chest, big stomach, I was all about those crunches and pushups!

There was only one problem: not only could I not find the time to perform my “workout routine”, but I didn’t consistently workout. I would always make the same excuses:

  • I’m tired.
  • I’ve been working all day.
  • I haven’t eaten enough cookie dough for energy.

Same old excuses got me the same old result: I saw no changes…and I felt miserable.

The Key to Success: Consistency
The Storm Trooper has the right idea.

MY SOLUTION

As funny as it seems, my solution was found in the most cliché way. As a New Year’s resolution, I decided I was finally going to take charge of my life and push myself to become healthier and stronger. From there, well…I actually stuck to it. I challenged myself to a new healthy lifestyle that I would consistently work on and not stray from.

I’m not going to say it was pretty, but I did quit eating tubs of cookies and instead started running on the treadmill. I did it all in baby-step increments: running 15 minutes, then 30, then an hour. I didn’t necessarily know what foods were the best to eat or how much of it to eat, so I did my research and started to consistently keep up with my diet.

I Started Noticing Changes

The title explains it all. I was in the gym 6 days a week just running and tracking my diet 7 days a week. From here I started to notice that I wasn’t just losing weight, but I was also getting more tone. My runs started to improve, my flab was no longer as flabby, and I gained a workout partner in the process.

Consistently running on the treadmill got me thinking, “What if I wanted to put on muscle?” I had never considered it a possibility before. In fact, I had never been put on muscle before so I had always had a stigma against it. However, I knew this was a new goal that I wanted to accomplish.

What did I do next?

I Conducted Research

I was a mad scientist behind my computer screen. I started my lifting journey with absolutely zero knowledge of how. So I hit up the internet, the library, and even some workout buddies. After what seemed like days of pure head banging (you try learning something from scratch) I finally came up with a workout and diet plan that I thought would work best for me.

From there, the rest is essentially history. It took a decent amount of trial and error for me to figure out what diet plans worked best for my body and what workouts worked best for my muscle groups. This process took a while because:

  • My muscles were not actually used to a weight training workout routine.
  • I had never put my diet to a strict lifting diet.

*All of this is natural for first timers, although I did get a couple of laughs when used a barbell the wrong way (don’t ask).

Putting myself in the gym consistently, and constantly testing out diet plans, helped me train myself and learn which avenues of health and fitness would work best for me. It was hard work, but putting in that constant time and effort was well worth it.

IN CONCLUSION

So what do I believe is the key to success? Consistency, hands down.

Sure, it wasn’t always the most glamorous thing to watch (definitely not for the other people in the gym). But consistency is the only way to actually succeed in your fitness goals.

If you don’t consistently stick to your workout routine, your muscles are never going to grow. If you don’t consistently stick to your diet plan, you’re never going to see results with your body and health. Improving your life takes time, commitment and hard work. If you don’t put in the consistent time and effort, you’re not going to see the results.

And news flash: you only have yourself to blame.

So, what do I always say?

Do your research, get prepared, and get lifting!

The Key to Success: Consistency
Get it? It’s the Key to Success!