Reasons You’re Not Gaining Muscle

1. You don’t eat enough

If you aren’t getting a surplus of calories, you simply won’t grow. If you’re not sure how many calories/day you should be consuming, the harris-benedict formula is an equation that will help you determine just that. First we must find out your “basal metabolic rate,” which is the number of calories your body would burn if staying in bed all day:

Men BMR = 88.362 + (13.397 x weight in kg) + (4.799 x height in cm) – (5.677 x age in years)
Women BMR = 447.593 + (9.247 x weight in kg) + (3.098 x height in cm) – (4.330 x age in years)

After you have determined you BMR, use this table to figure out your daily recommended intake:

Little to no exercise Daily kilocalories needed = BMR x 1.2
Light exercise (1–3 days per week) Daily kilocalories needed = BMR x 1.375
Moderate exercise (3–5 days per week) Daily kilocalories needed = BMR x 1.55
Heavy exercise (6–7 days per week) Daily kilocalories needed = BMR x 1.725
Very heavy exercise (twice per day, extra heavy workouts) Daily kilocalories needed = BMR x 1.9

Finally, now that you have a good idea of how many calories your body needs to maintain its current weight, you need to add calories in order to have the surplus required to build lean tissue. I would start with an increase of 250 calories/day; see how your body responds after a couple of weeks and then increase/decrease from there.

2. You do too much cardio

maxit_treadmill_kl-1303If you are already not eating enough calories, expending more calories via cardio will make it next to impossible for your body to gain lean muscle. The right type of cardio has its place (sprint training, slow long distance) but your first priority should be resistance training.

3. You’re not getting enough protein &/or carbs

Protein is needed for growth and to repair broken down tissue. If you aren’t getting enough, your body will turn to breaking down muscle in order to meet its daily protein needs. 1.2 -1.5 grams of protein per pound of body weight should be consumed each day. It may seem like a lot at first, but it can easily be reached through the frequent consumption of lean meats, low fat dairy, eggs; egg whites, and protein powder.

Moreover, restricting your intake of carbohydrates while trying to put on muscle will leave you flat and feeling like garbage. Carbs supply the energy needed to get through intense workouts, and your brain alone needs 130g/day to function properly. 2-3g of carbs per pound of body weight is needed each day when gaining muscle. Make at least 80% of these carbs complex, and only consume simple carbs around your workouts.

Good Carb, Bad Carb

protein4. You’re inconsistent

For anything to work, consistency is vital. Almost any weight lifting plan will work if you’re consistent with it. I used to make the mistake of doing different workouts every time I hit the gym; it wasn’t until I started sticking to a plan for 4-6 weeks at a time did I really start to see gains in both lean muscle mass and strength. Find a plan, log everything, and follow through with it.

If you’re inconsistent at hitting the gym all together, well you have your answer right there.

5. You’ve been doing to same thing for too long and/or you aren’t training hard enough

Opposite from inconsistency, you’re consistent but cannot recall that last time you did something different. Our bodies are good at adapting to repetitive training stimulus, and sooner or later you will hit a plateau if you don’t switch up the exercises and/or the rep and set schemes.

On the same note, you simply might not be training hard enough. If you’re not challenged during your workouts and don’t opt for the heavy weights, you aren’t causing damage to your muscles, if you aren’t causing damage your mueat sleep train repeatscles will have no need to repair itself and heal bigger and stronger. Stop being a sissy and lift heavy things!

(For hypertrophy, 3-4 sets of 8-12 reps is generally agreed upon)

6. You don’t sleep/recover enough

Training hard and eating well plays a huge role in gaining muscle, but just as important is sleep and recovery. Human Growth Hormone (HGH) is highest when we sleep so getting the recommended 8 hours each night is a must. Also, those who don’t sleep enough tend to have higher levels of cortisol, which is catabolic hormone (breaks down muscle tissue); clearly this is a bad thing for those wanting more muscle.

7. You aren’t supplementing properly

This should be the last thing to consider, and only if you have perfected the points above. Also, relying on supplements to increase your performance is a poor idea.protein-powder

Personally, I’m all for protein powders, multivitamins, amino acids, and some pre-workouts; they have helped boost my training and aid in my recovery.

Fitness Bingo!

bingo

Next week is March break so I thought I’d change up my group training classes and play fitness bingo! Participants must make a line (50 points), four corners (50 points), and/or an “x” (100 points) to attain the highest score possible. I’ve designed it so no matter which they choose to complete, they’ll get a full body routine. They can break up the reps any way they like in order to complete the exercises with the best form possible. The weight chosen must challenge their strength while considering the number of reps; lowering the weight before the reps are completed is allowed only if it’s 100% necessary.

I chose exercises that can be completed with the equipment I have at my disposal in the group training studio, feel free to give it a try if you have access to such equipment. If you aren’t sure of the exercises, shoot me an e-mail, or look it up on good old google. You can always change it up and choose other exercises, or make changes the number of reps -the groups I train are pretty fit people, so I made it rather challenging.

I apologize if the “bingo” card is cut off, I added a link at the bottom that should open a “PDF” copy if you wanted to print it. If that doesn’t work, I can definitely send it to you. Thanks for stopping by, keep moving!

B I N G

O

60 INVERTED ROWS 5 MINUTES STRAIGHT JUMP ROPE 30 AROUND THE WORLD FLYES ON STABILITY BALL 70 BENT OVER BARBELL ROWS 100 WEIGHTED TRAVELING LUNGES
100 RESISITANCE BAND CROSS OVERS 100 BODY WEIGHT SQUATS 75 REVERSE FLYES 3 MINUTE PLANK 70 STANDING SHOULDER PRESS
50 TRICEPS DIPS 100 STABILITY BALL IN & OUTS 100 BURPEES 30 WEIGHTED STEP-UPS EACH LEG 50 1-ARM ROWS EA. ARM
3 MINUTE WALL SIT 50 CURLS50 KICKBACKS 60 BARBELL GOODMORNINGS 30 REPS SHOULDER DRILL 50 SKATE HOPS 
200 JUMPING JACKS 70 OVERHEAD SLAMS 60 HANG CLEAN & PRESS 50 WIDE GRIP CURLS 60 PUSH-UPS

Fitness Bingo

Kettlebell Circuit

The kettlebell is an excellent tool that can be used to improve strength, power, and aerobic fitness. Although the bulk of my personal fitness programs utilizes dumbbells and barbells, I do enjoy picking up the kettlebell every now and again. It’s beneficial since it offers variety to my workouts and activates my muscles differently than other free weights.

Here is a circuit I enjoy performing either on “off” days from my regular strength training, or I’ll complete a couple rounds at the end of my workout for some conditioning work.

Please excuse the quality of the video! Watching it made me realize that using my phone won’t do, having someone else to film it would help, I shouldn’t film it while at work (haha), and I say “okay” way too much – but hey! It’s progress, not perfection.

Kettlebell Circuit:

1. Around the world x10-15 rotations ea. direction

2. Basic swing x20-30 solid reps

3. Goblet Squat x8-12 reps

4. 1-Arm Bent Rows x8-12reps ea. side

5. Windmill x8-12reps

6. Single legged deadlift x8-12 ea. leg

Perform 3-6 rounds

If you have any questions about this workout, or the exercises it consists of, feel free to leave a comment or contact me via the “Train with me” tab above.

Happy lifting 🙂

My New Favourite: BARBELL COMPLEXES

barbell

I’m always looking for ways to change up my training and lately I’ve fallen in love with barbell complexes. It’s a type of circuit training in the sense that you move quickly from one exercise to another. What makes it unique is the fact you never put the bar down until you’ve completed the complex. They are downright brutal, and it’s awesome!

Benefits:

Complexes are an excellent way to build muscle, burn fat, and boost conditioning. If done correctly they’re a great way to push your limits in a safe manner. It’s also a good way to work on technique since complexes require lighter weights than what you’re used to in your strength sessions. Not to mention they are an awesome substitute for deload work because they allow you to train harder without the extra stress on your joints.

Laws of the Complexes:

  1. While performing complexes you will be limited to the heaviest weight you can use while performing your weakest lift. Do not choose an exercise that requires significantly less weight in comparison to the other lifts.
  2. Form always matters. Just because the weight is lighter doesn’t mean you should aim to lift as quickly as possible. Use this opportunity to really focus on performing the lifts with the best form possible.
  3. Time doesn’t dictate progress. Yes, some training methods require the lifter to maintain weight while progressively increasing speed with better time indicating improvement. However, with complexes the goal is to increase the weight.
  4. Put the hardest exercises first. The most technically demanding exercises such as Olympic lifts should be performed first, while you’re fresh.
  5. Focus on full body or lower body complexes. I tried an upper body complex before, and they just don’t transition well.
  6. Alternate between upper and lower body while performing full body complexes. By doing so, you give your lower body a chance to rest while performing the upper body lifts, and vice versa.
  7. Try to make it flow. Structure your routine in a way that makes it easy to transition from one move to the next.

When I perform barbell complexes I typically choose 6 exercises and begin with 6 reps each. I then rest for 60 seconds and move on to round two where I perform 5 reps, then 4,3,2,1. I try to decrease my rest periods as I move closer to that 1 rep.

You do not have to use this rep scheme, you could always complete 10 reps for one exercise, then 5 for another and keep the reps consistent as you complete 3-5 rounds. Whatever works and challenges you the most while keeping your goals in mind.

Example Full Body Complexes:

Example 1:

  1. Front Squat
  2. Bent Row
  3. Romanian Deadlift
  4. Push Press
  5. Back Squat
  6. Goodmorning

Example 2:

  1. Squat Press
  2. Single-Arm Linear Jammers
  3. Landmine 180’s
  4. Single-Arm Bent-Over Rows

Example 3:

  1. Hang clean
  2. Reverse Lunge with front squat grip
  3. High pull
  4. Stiff Legged Deadlift
  5. Sumo Squat
  6. Calf Raise

I forgot to mention that complexes highly challenge grip strength, so if you’re not used to holding the bar for this long, get ready to feel your forearms burn!

Try complexes, but don’t forget the puke bucket 🙂

Top 5 Triceps Exercises

Triceps

I have been meaning to post my top 5 triceps exercises for quite some time. I did take photos of myself performing the following exercises, but without a real digital camera the quality sucked, and taking photos by myself is more challenging than performing the moves.

Under each exercise I have posted a link to bobybuilding.com which will take you to a page that has a video of the exercise being performed and a description below. If you have never visited bodybuilding.com check it out – it was a very usful to me when I first began weight lifting and I still visit the site on a regular basis.

Here is a list of my top 5 triceps exercises:

1. Triceps Push-ups

http://www.bodybuilding.com/exercises/detail/view/name/push-ups-close-triceps-position

2. Close-grip bench press

http://www.bodybuilding.com/exercises/detail/view/name/close-grip-barbell-bench-press

3. Triceps Dips

http://www.bodybuilding.com/exercises/detail/view/name/dips-triceps-version

4. Triceps Pull-down (rope attachment)

http://www.bodybuilding.com/exercises/detail/view/name/triceps-pushdown-rope-attachment

5.  Dumbbell Kickback

http://www.bodybuilding.com/exercises/detail/view/name/standing-bent-over-two-arm-dumbbell-triceps-extension

10 Mistakes Women Make in the Gym

Ladies! Take a few minutes to read this awesome article from T Nation and ask yourself if your guilty of any of the following mistakes. I know I have been guilty of them all at some point in time and if I made my own list it would certainly include all 10 of these points.

http://www.t-nation.com/training/10-mistakes-women-make-in-the-gym

LIFT HEAVY. LIFT OFTEN, LADIES!

Ditch the baby weights
Ditch the baby weights

 

 

NEW PHASE

The following is a strength training program I put together using information from TNation.com and other resources, including training phases I have completed in the past. I based my program around the 4 core lifts and I started it this past Monday (Oct.20). I hope to see and increase in my 1RM by the end of this phase, and I will likely repeat this over again for another 6 weeks, changing up the accessory exercises.

NEW TRAINING PHASE: STRENGTH

  • 4 days / week with an optional 5th day
  • Main lifts – Deadlift, Bench, Squat, Military Press
  • Duration – 6 weeks (maybe 7)

Monday- Deadlift
Tueday – Bench Press
Wednesday – OFF
Thursday – Squat
Friday – OFF (or 5th)
Saturday – Military Press
Sunday – OFF (or 5th)

 

                                                               Sets x Reps  
WK Core Accessory Total Reps
1 5 x 8 @ 65% 1RM 3 x 6,6,6* 100
2 5 x 7 @ 70% 1RM 3 x 6,6,8* 103
3 5 x 6 @ 75% 1RM 3 x 6,8,8* 104
4 5 x 5 @ 80% 1RM 3 x 8,8,8* 105
5 5 x 4@ 85% 1RM 3 x 8,8,10* 108
6 5 x 3 @ 90% 1RM 3 x 8,10,10* 109

*Last set is a dropset for the last exercise only; dropping the weight by 30% then performing the same number of reps.

Week 7 – 5 x 1 @ 105 % RM ?

Accessory Exercises – 2 compound (1 bilateral, 1 unilateral), 1 isolation / lift

Deadlift – Chin-ups, 1-Arm DB Rows, BB Stiff Legged Deadlifts, Push-ups**

Bench – Incline DB Press, Crush Press (Flat), Pullover, Hip Thrust**

Squat – Front Squat, Split Squat, Hip Adduction, DB Upright Row**

Military – Arnold Press, Lateral Raise (cable), Bent Rear Delt Rows (BB), Inverted Row**

**Last exercise; 1-2 sets; 8-12 reps; not coming close to failure, goal is to stimulate muscles for frequency value.

Optional 5th day: Arms, weak spots.

ABS: 3 exercises performed circuit style 2-3 times / week.

 

MY RECOVERY WORKOUT

I participated in my second fitness competition this past August. During the 9 weeks leading up to my competition I followed a strict diet and continued to train my ass off. While preparing for that I continued to teach 7 group training classes / week where I work.

After my competition I found myself in need of a little break – a life no so structured and pre-determined, and some time to enjoy the company of friends and family over food and drinks, without stressing about every calorie I consumed.

I am back to it now, and the parties and late nights are very apparent during my weight training sessions. From past experience I knew this would happen; so instead of getting frustrated I will smile at those nights without regret and continue forward to become even better than before.

Here is the program I am following for one week only. I feel like it’s a great way to ease back into the gym and wake those muscles up prior to heading into my next training phase.

GOALS:

-Keep it simple

-Incorporate cardio

-Gradually increase intensity and volume

-Full-body workout

Exercises:

1. Decline Leg Press

1a. Dumbbell Bent-over Rows

2. Seated Dumbbell Shoulder Press

2a. Dumbbell Chest Press (Flat bench)

3. Barbell Curls

3a. Triceps Push-downs (rope)

4. Knee-ups

4a. Briefcase walk

Day 1:

–          Start with 20 minutes of cardio.

Any type of cardio; my goal here is to work up a sweat to rid my body of toxins and mentally prepare to kill it this week. I usually go for the elliptical because I can put both my arms and legs into it.

–          Proceed to the weights; 2 sets of 10 reps.

Ya, my numbers are going to suffer – that’s what drinking and staying up late will do. Putting moderate-intense cardio first will also negatively impact my numbers, but for today it’s all good.

Complete the above exercises in superset fashion leaving no more than 1 minute rest between exercises. I choose a weight that will allow me to complete both sets of 10 reps with good form while leaving a couple reps “in the hole” (I could do a couple more, but not today). I’ll start with a warm-up set in most cases, especially if I am not certain of how much to lift.

Day 2:

–          10 minutes of cardio

I opt for incline walking, but any type will do. This is for both warm-up and cardio purposes.

–          Proceed to the weights; 3 sets of 10 reps.

I use the exact same exercises as day 1, again in superset fashion. This time I add a third set and try to increase my weights by 5-10lbs during my 2nd and 3rd sets of each exercise while still leaving 1-2 reps in the hole.

Day 3:

Active recovery; enjoy a long walk with my dog.

Day 4:

Same as day 2

Day 5:

–          5 minute warm-up and dynamic stretches.

Last workout before I head into my next phase.

–          Proceed to weights; 3 sets of 10 reps followed by 1 drop set to failure.

I continue to use the same exercises but add a fourth set to failure. I will perform 10 reps using the same weight as I did in set 3 and then continue to drop the weight and bang out reps until my form gets too sloppy or until I’m absolutely spent. This does not apply to the briefcase walk exercise.

Day 6: OFF

Day 7: START NEW PHASE WITH CONFIDENCE AND INTENSITY!

Side note: Everything in moderation folks! I do not recommened alcohol consumption and late nights on a regular basis; always keep your training goals in sight.

Fit for the Right Reasons

Embarking on a journey to better you is hard. Changing habits that you’ve had all of your life takes mental toughness, willpower, and consistency. Setting short and long term goals then working towards them leads to success; so long as these goals are realistic and can fit within your everyday lifestyle.

I’ve sat down with over 100 people to discuss their current habits and how to work towards living a healthier lifestyle. I would say 60% of people want to start working out for vanity reasons while the other 40% have to start exercising because their doctor told them it is absolutely vital to their health. We need some middle ground here people!

If you want to look like that huge ripped dude with a rippling 6 pack, or that girl with strong quads and buns of steel -sure it’s possible – but I can tell you now that those people have made nutrition and exercise their life, everything they do from the moment they wake up to when they go to sleep involves healthy, structured eating along with planned, consistent exercise. They plan and pack their meals and do not skip out on their workouts even if they are tired or have a million other things to do. They don’t find time for fitness; they make time (clearly some indiviuals have the added bonus of good genetics, but we can’t all be that lucky). To some this may be unrealistic, and that is okay.

This isn’t to say you can’t look the way you desire, I’m just not one to give false promises. I need to emphasize how much work and dedication gaining muscle and/or loosing fat takes. Today’s supplements and rip-off “ab machines” loves to give the general population false hope while taking their money. The truth is you must eat well, be active, and take it upon yourself to learn about your body.

I want to encourage your average Joe who works every day and has a family to take on healthy habits so he/she can live disease free with the unrestricted ability to participate in everyday activities, along with the confidence to hold their own during recreational sports or anything else that requires a degree of physical fitness.

If looking better is the motivation to get you started, use that. However there are endless reasons to improve your nutrition and get moving that has nothing to do with the way you look on the outside. In fact, most of the positive changes start inside your body – where it really counts.