The final part in my top tips for muscle gain series… the next 800 words should set you up for success meeting your goals now and any time in the future.
Your success throughout any fitness challenge will come down to two things:
· your meal plan choices using real foods AND
· how hard you train;
There are no magic pills or potions. Which is where we’ll start this final list of tips…
1. Don’t get caught up with the hype associated with sports supplements
Focus your energies on adjusting your meal plan to reflect the specific goals you are aiming to achieve. Once you’ve mastered this, only then should you even consider the use of sports supplements.
Two products that might be of value for hard-training individuals are
· whey protein isolate/concentrate (WPI) and
· creatine monohydrate.
A serve of WPI after training can help turn on muscle building and repair in a tasty, easily portable shake.
Similarly, creatine has been shown to boost recovery when athletes are undertaking repeat, high intensity efforts, like many of the sessions you do during the challenge.
Creatine is best taken as pure creatine monohydrate, with a dose of just 5g a day sufficient to boost performance over a 4-week period. Alternatively, you can load on creatine for 5 days, taking a flat teaspoon with your main meals and a post-training snack. After five days, resort back to just a flat teaspoon each day.
2. Just get organised
Eating for fitness and muscle gain demands that you are organised and have ready access to food. To strictly follow a meal plan that includes regular meals and snacks, you HAVE to be organised and have access to foods throughout the day that are inline with your meal plan.
The more meals and snacks that come from home (made fresh by you), the more successful you’ll likely be. It gives you absolute control over what goes into your mouth. Doing a ‘cook up’ 1-2 times a week will give you access to great quality options every day.
It takes virtually the same time to cook up enough for four meals as it does just one, so make the most of the time you invest in the kitchen. If you know what you have to eat tomorrow, pack up your meals and snacks for the next day too so that all you need do is pack them into a cold pack on the way out the door.
This is SO especially important for those individuals juggling commitments, including family, work and training. Plan to do one main shop a week but be prepared to shop up to three times a week to get additional fresh produce. FRESH is BEST…. not just for nutritional value but also taste and you HAVE to enjoy what you eat.
3. Take your time, changing shape is a longer-term goal
If you want to change your body shape by increasing muscle mass (or decreasing body fat), make sure your goals are achievable. Changing shape takes time, especially if your goal is to gain muscle and drop fat at the same time.
How quickly you change shape will depend on an array of factors, including your commitment to training and diet, but also other factors like your training history and genetics. A gain of 5-6kg of muscle over a year sounds pretty impressive, but when you break that down to what you might be able to achieve over the duration of a 12-week challenge, expect a more moderate gain of 1-2 kg.
4. Occasional (cheat/naughty whatever word you use!) foods are allowed… you just need to work out how much and how often.
You don’t need to be perfect.
Let me say that again… you don’t need to be perfect. Just be consistent enough to reach your goals.
Changing ingrained habits takes time, commitment, and support. You can have your fave foods… even if they aren’t what you would call healthy. The key is to ensure you are committed to your meal plan for the majority of your meals and snacks.
So that’s a wrap for my Top Ten Tips for Muscle Gain.
Remember to be really honest with yourself about your habits and accept where you can make some changes to help you on your health and fitness journey.
If you haven’t downloaded our Muscle Gain Checklist yet, get it here and find out how well what you eat is matched to your GAINZ goals.
And if you need more support to plan your meals or measure your fat loss, BOOK HERE for a consultation with a dietitian or a DEXA scan.