I feel a lil better today!! Definitely not as lazy and sick as I was on Wednesday – I can credit that to the green smoothies (and medicine). :)
I hope to get back to the gym today, too. I haven’t been since Wednesday and I am itching to get back. I took Thursday and Friday off to let my body heal and I think I made the right choice because now I just have a little sniffle – nothing major like I was feeling before. Like I said, rest is moy importante!!!!
Today’s post will hopefully be insightful for some of you. I remember when I used to do some cardio every day and add in weights and still wonder to myself why I wasn’t seeing results. According to myself, “I was doing everything right.” I wanted tone, muscle, and got NONE. I was like, well hell, what am I doing wrong???
But, if you notice, most people in the gym who do look toned and have muscle aren’t doing cardio (if at all) like a crazy animal. They come in, lift, and leave. And they get muscle. And it works.
So, here’s a little “check-list” that made me realize what I was doing wrong. This is just my opinion and from what I’ve seen, works for me. So, if you want muscle tone but aren’t seeing it, consider the following:
1. You’re excessively doing cardio.
You don’t need cardio *at all* to stay in shape. Like, for real. I haven’t done cardio in a month (while it is very important for heart health, when building muscle, you need to cut back), and I’m more toned than ever. In my mind, cardio gets the weight off but lifting weights keeps it off. When you lift weights you build muscle which will consistently boost your metabolism. When you do cardio, it’s a temporary sort of burn… you don’t continue to burn calories through cardio although your metabolism will be temporarily boosted.
Also, when you do cardio while mixing in strength training, you never give your muscles a chance to grow because while doing cardio, your body uses muscles as fuel. Your body sees muscles as an ‘extra’ sort of thing. You don’t need muscle to live, per say. So your body will “eat it up” if it sees necessary for fuel.
2. You’re not eating enough protein.
Protein is the building blocks of muscle. You need to eat (more) protein to gain muscle. Make an effort to get at least 20-30g of protein at every meal (and you should be eating 6 meals every 2-3 hours). Protein is made up of amino acids, which as a vegetarian, is hard to get complete sources of amino acids from one food so I usually combine beans with rice or eat quinoa (which is a complete source of protein).
3. You’re not eating enough. Period.
To gain muscle mass you need to be eating enough. Trying to cut calories is NOT the time to do it if you want to build muscle. You need to be eating *meals*, not snacks, every 2-3 hours. Make sure you’re eating enough. Like I said in #1, if your body see’s it’s going hungry, or is in a famine, it will use up muscle as fuel, so make sure you’re eating enough and eating frequently. Don’t be afraid of putting on weight, either. You may gain a few lbs building muscle but you’re lowering your body fat percentage which is overall better. Also, when you build up enough muscle, you can then incorporate cardio back in your exercise plan and you’ll see noticeable changes.
Also, limit your sugar intake – and that applies to fruit as well. I barely have any sugar anymore and it’s made my muscles, especially abs, “pop”. I maybe have 1-2 pieces of fruit per day and that’s either 1/2 a banana and an apple or strawberries. Honestly, since cutting it out, I don’t even crave it anymore.
4. You don’t lift consistently.
Don’t expect to lift 2-3 times per week with no real plan of what muscles you’re working and when you plan on working them and expect to see results. Also, don’t be all over the place with your workouts. You need to focus on building muscle to get muscle and you won’t exactly do that if you keep bouncing around with different workouts. Focus on solely building muscle and you will get it.
5. You don’t lift heavy enough.
Don’t be a sissy. If you know you can lift heavier (while keeping proper form), do it. You need to lift heavy(er) to see results, so do it. You are probably stronger than you think.
So there you have it.
Some little tips that I’ve come to realize were the culprit on why I wasn’t gaining muscle & tone. I’m not a personal trainer or anything but that’s just what I’ve read about and since putting into effect, have realized that it’s true – if you’re not doing those things, you simply won’t be seeing the results you want to see. Of course, you may be getting some muscle mass & tone, but probably not as much as you’d like.
Now go get your ass to the gym and lift weights!