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Top 7 Tips for Building Muscle and Losing Fat

1. Get Moving…Consistently!

Like I said, you have to do something…anything! Get off the couch, get out from in front of the TV and move yo’ ass. Do I sound harsh? I’m trying to be! I am sick and tired of people making excusing and then complaining all the time.

When you get home from work, go outside and take a walk. Do some push-ups, do some lunges – just get moving. And it you think you need hours and hours each day, you’re wrong. 10-15 minutes of moving, stretching, doing bodyweight exercises will add up very quickly in a week. Start slow and do 3 times a week and as you progress, do 4 or 5 times a week if you want. Now do this each week over the course of a month, 3 months and a year. Be consistent!

2. Progression

After you start moving again on a consistent basis, you will hit a plateau. Remember, ALL PROGRAMS WORK UP UNTIL A CERTAIN POINT. Then, they stop working. That is when you either look for a new program, or learn how to create your own programs. If a muscle building program is good, it teaches you have to make informed decisions based on your individuals needs. It also teaches you moving forward how to adjust your program to continue to make progress.

The Most Common Ways to Increase the Intensity of Your Training Session:

Modify Rest Periods
Varying the Load
Increasing the Speed of Movement
Progressing from Isolated to Compound Movements

All of these components can be grouped together into a principle called the Principle of Progressive Overload.

3. Keep a Training / Diet Journal

The only way to stay consistent with your diet is to monitor exactly what you eat everyday. If you record this in a journal, you will be very surprised how much you are eating or NOT eating. Eating a good quality protein source every 2 hours and having the majority of your complex carbs for your first meal and the meal immediately following your workout is a great, very basic way to start being consistent with your diet. Also, setting a goal to drink a gallon of water a day and elminating sugary drinks will pay off big time.

On the other side, also keeping a training journal for your training is priority one. If you don’t know where you’ve been, how can you know what your destination is. A training log allows you to lay out your microcycle (short term periodized succession of workouts). It also shows you immediately what weights (load) and exercises you did for your last similar workout.

A cool thing to use for a training journal is a calendar. The dates are already there and you can get one with lots of space for each day. It is laid out for you in weekly blocks.

4. Get Your Balance On

This is something that was driven home by Alwyn Cosgrove’s Periodization Design Bible. In it, Alwyn really teaches how to design a sound program on the foundation that movements and movement patterns should be balanced. The volume for a push movement has to be balanced with the volume of the pull movements. This will ensure that muscle groups and joints (kinetic chain linkage) are antagonistically strong and the body creates appropriate tension when presented with the opportunity to overcome a weight.

I’ve been very fortunate to have many mentors. Alwyn Cosgrove, Jim Wendler, Eric Cressey, Mike Robertson, James Smith, Ross Enamait and many others. These guys have influenced me and shaped my training style. The idea is – read every thing that is reputable. I used to tell trainers always read everything and never STOP LEARNING. But now, I tell them read everything from reputable resources. It is very important who you read and what you apply. All trainers are NOT created equal.

5. Do Not Specialize

Try many different sports, not necessarily your best one 🙂
Olympic weightlifters specialize for Olympic weightlifting.
Powerlifters specialize for powerlifting.
Girevoy (kettlebell) sport specialize for kettlebells.

If you are talking about building muscle and strength, you have a variety of options. The problem is lifters stay on a program too long or without progressive overload and they plateau. Always challenge yourself!

When talking about athletes of all ages, they need a wide variety of training adaptations and protocols. Sometimes those who “specialize” think that their training is the ULTIMATE TRAINING and everyone should be only doing that. Well, they’re wrong.

Yes you can get strong with kettlebells, yes you can get strong with barbells, yes you can get strong with dumbbells….it ALL WORKS! These are tools but it is all dependent upon how you use these tools. When training athletes, you must make a choice on how to choose the right training protocols (yes plural) after and only after you analyze the following:

– the training maturity (how long they’ve been training) of the athlete / lifter
– the sporting age (how long they’ve been playing their sport(s)) of the athlete / lifter
– the metabolic, physiological and neurological demands of the sport
– the movement patterns of the sport
– the athlete or lifter’s ability to adhere to the prescribed training and restorative modalities (sleep, massage, foam roller, good nutrition, etc.)
– the athlete / lifter’s current injuries and / or stage of recovery
– this is just the short list

Side Note to all You Trainers Out There: Your training is NOT FUNCTIONAL. It is NOT FUNCTIONAL if you are talking about athletic performance and you are NOT PLAYING THE ACTUAL SPORT. Remember that.

6. Recovery and Warm-up

Ever sat on a lacrosse ball? No, not THAT WAY! I’m talking about using lacrosse balls to improve your soft-tissue quality and extensibility.

You should!

They can be very effective (because of their density) at removing scar tissue, adhesions and trigger points.

In AER, one of the foundational manuals in the AMD muscle building system, I talk at length about the importance of foam rolling (and LaX balls) every workout or during your non-training days. The improvement to your strength and overall movement will be huge.

Other forms and self myofascial release or SMR are:

– the Stick
– foam rollers
– tennis balls
– golf balls

What else is important – a thorough and comprehensive warm-up. (see AMPED Warm-up) How to Warm-up – AMPED Warm-up

7. Dedication

You have to be dedicated to the program…any program. Without this dedication and support system (friends, twitter, facebook groups) you will never follow through. If you are serious about changing your life, finally, then you must dedicate yourself everyday. Tell people about your goals, this gives accountability.

Even when you’re tired.
Even when the kids are driving you crazy.
Even when work sucks.
Even when you have absolutely no time in the day, find the time.
Even when no one thinks you can do it.
Even when everything has failed.
Try again.

By on February 2nd, 2012


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