Less fat, more muscle—that’s your goal, right? There are many benefits of increasing your muscle mass. On top of getting an instant boost to your self-esteem, more muscle means you’ll look more fit and trim, will be better able to burn calories while at work and at rest, have the ability to lose more weight, feel stronger for daily tasks, and the be less likely to suffer an injury.
So what’s the best way to go about gaining muscle? Does it mean you have to spend hours at the gym chiseling every tiny muscle? If you’re wondering, read on to learn a few simple strategies.
Work Those Muscles
You’ve got at least 650 muscles in your body and they won’t grow unless they’re used. This means you’ve got to work against some sort of resistance (free weights, your own bodyweight, or elastic bands) in order to maintain and grow new muscles. The best way to build muscle is to gradually increase the amount of weight you’re lifting and the number of repetitions. Muscles get accustomed to the amount of weight they’re working against, so each week plan to add a few extra pounds to your barbell or a few more repetitions.
When you push your muscles to their limits through weight or repetitions, small tears form in the muscle tissue. It’s when your body repairs those tears that new muscle cells form. You won’t see results overnight, but keep at it and you’ll see growth eventually.
You have to challenge yourself and your muscles. When you are really regimented, it’s the same over and over and you start to get comfortable. Switching up the style of training works your muscles differently.
Focus on Compound Exercises
It’ll take you a lot less time to build muscle if you focus your energy on compound exercises. These exercises work multiple muscle groups at once instead of one or two at a time. Unless you’re trying to build a single muscle group, don’t waste your time with exercises like bicep curls, leg curls, tricep extensions, and seated calf raises. Rather, do compound exercises like squats, lunges, deadlifts, bench presses, shoulder presses, barbell rows, pull-ups, and leg presses.
In order for the tiny tears in your muscles to heal and new fibers to grow, your muscles need rest after a good workout. For you, this may mean doing your strength training exercises every other day (Monday, Wednesday, and Friday) or only focusing on certain muscle groups during your workouts (legs on Monday, chest and arms on Tuesday, and back and shoulders on Wednesday, and so on).
Besides a day off here and there, your muscles require a good night’s rest to recover from hard workouts. Aim to get seven to nine hours of sleep each night.
Feed Your Muscles
Muscle cells need nourishment to grow. If you’re on a calorie-restrictive diet, don’t expect to see muscle gains. Rather, expect to lose valuable muscle. A diet that supports muscle gains will include plenty of protein, good carbs, and vegetables. Protein is valued for its ability to stimulate new muscle growth. Strength trainers, athletes, and active people need more protein than the average person.
To support muscle growth, your goal should be to eat a minimum of .55 grams but closer to one gram of protein for every pound of body weight each day. Weigh 200 pounds? Eat 200 grams of protein. Just be picky about your protein sources to avoid consuming too many calories. Choose lean meats, poultry, fish, beans, dairy, and eggs. If you find you’re having trouble getting enough protein, try adding a protein supplement of some sort.
Every morning when the alarm goes off, you have a choice to make. Will you work out today or sleep in? Some days you just don’t feel like working out. Maybe you’re tired, feel lazy, or have a million other things on your agenda. Can’t you just skip your workout today? No. Is it really that big of a deal? Yes.
While you can make the choice to skip your workout here and there, and it’s okay not to exercise every day of the week, a commitment to your exercise routine is the key to fitness and weight-loss success.
Unless you have a good excuse like sickness or injury, it’s best not to make excuses. Read on to learn four ways you lose when you skip your workout.
Lose Fitness Gains
You’ve worked hard to get this far so why lose what you’ve gained? All the early morning jogs, the weights lifted, and the laps swam have helped you get to this point. You’ve seen your health improve, your weight come off, and your muscles grow. You don’t want to throw away your hard work.
How fast you’ll fall out of shape depends on how fit you are. The longer you’ve been committed to exercise, the longer it’ll take to lose your fitness gains, but experts say going just two weeks without working out will greatly reduce your lean muscle mass and your cardio fitness. Go two or more months without exercising and you can lose it all.
It took a while to make exercise a regular part of your routine, but it doesn’t take long to fall back into unhealthy habits. Skip a workout here, skip a workout there, and it won’t be long until you’re comfortable skipping more workouts than you’re actually making, until one day they finally disappear from your life altogether. Where at one time exercise was a priority no matter what, now even little excuses seem plausible. Don’t excuse yourself from your workout or you’ll begin to lose your good habits!
Lose Sight of Goals
How often does your morning workout give you motivation and strength to say “no” to unhealthy diet temptations? Many people find that when they start the day off on the right foot, they’re more likely to continue making healthy choices the rest of the day. After a challenging workout, who wants to fill their belly with junk? A lack of commitment in the exercise realm of your life may very well carry over into your diet. It’s easy to let your weight loss and fitness goals slip to the back of your mind when you skip your workout.
Lose Your Self-Respect
A skipped workout here or there isn’t a big deal, but a habit of hitting snooze may make you feel guilty and mad at yourself. You set goals, you made a commitment, and now you’re backsliding. Is the extra half hour of sleep really worth it compared to the feelings of regret and guilt you’ll have later in the day when you wish you’d gone to the gym? Be a person of your word. If you said you’d workout, then do it. In the end, wouldn’t it be nice to have no regrets?
TOYS FOR TOTS Holiday Gift Drive 2016
The objective of Toys for Tots are to help less fortunate children throughout the United States experience the joy of the holidays, to play an active role in the development of one of our nation’s most valuable resources – our children; to unite all members in a common cause each year during the annual toy collection and distribution campaign; and to contribute to better communities in the future.
The principle Toys for Tots activity which takes place each year is the collection and distribution of toys in the communities in which a Marine Corps Reserve Unit is located.
Help us support the Marines and Toys for Tots Gift Drive.
Donate any NEW UNWRAPPED toy up to December 15th and be our Guest for the Day enjoy full use of the Club and Unlimited Group Exercise Classes!!!
Help Us Spread The Word
Flu Shot Clinic
At Life Clubs Sponsored By Walgreens Pharmacy
November 1st thru November 20th
For every two (2) non-perishable food items you donate to the drive we invite you to be our Guest for the day, enjoy full use our Club and unlimited Group Fitness Classes!!! All are welcome to drop off non-perishables at the Club between 6:00am and 9:00pm.
November 1st – November 20th
Help Us Spread The Word
Throughout my experience I have found that it is unreasonable to expect anyone to stick to a meal plan if they are constantly feeling hungry and/or deprived. Ultimately, the best intentioned dieter will fail if the meal plan is too hard to follow. The problem is that most popular weight loss diets are either too restrictive in either the amount (you know, you must weigh only a quarter cup of xxx and only 7 2/3 pieces of yyy) or variety of food they allow (such as no bread, cookies, ice cream….). More broadly, in terms of diet plans many high protein diets require that you go for weeks or months without ever eating a real piece of bread (ie; a “carb”) or a fruit. Most high- carbohydrate, low-fat, low calorie diets are too low in protein, which means that dieters on those plans will be constantly hungry.
So what can you do? The answer is simple yet not so simple. The secret lies with fat! That’s right, fat! Let me explain. You start off your day with a bagel, or sugary cereal, have some cookies at your coffee break, grab a slice of pizza, pasta or Panini (the 3 P’s) for lunch and snack on a frozen yogurt later on. By late afternoon you are starving, and you reach for something, anything to get you through until dinner (you know, protein/cereal bars, leftovers from kids dinners, candy…). What’s not right with this picture? I’ll tell you! You are consuming a steady stream of sugar rushing, metabolic wrecking glucose. So what does your body, a great an efficient machine, do? It does what it’s supposed to! It gets rid of the excess sugar in the blood via insulin. As the insulin packs away the excess sweets and stores it as fat, your blood sugar drops, leaving you feeling ravenous and craving more carbohydrates. So you eat more starchy and sugary carbohydrates, over and over again throughout the day (even night). If you were to graph the highs and lows, it would look like, up down, up down, up up down down, CRASH! This is precisely when you reach for the candy bar hidden in your special drawer. Unfortunately, it’s not the day to day that is the worst of it. It’s the year to year. That means that the prolonged amount of time of pumping too much insulin throughout your body desensitizes your tissues to insulin, which also increases your risk of developing type II diabetes and other diseases of obesity.
If you are trying to lose weight, the constant stream of simple sugars (including white flour and even in small quantities), will sabotage your efforts. Let’s face it, when your body has a choice of burning a high octane fuel like sugar or digging deep into your fat stores to burn fat, it will take the easy way out and burn sugar. After all, your body is efficient. However, if you don’t give your body a choice – that is to say you cut back on sugary carbohydrates – it will be forced to burn fat! The bottom line: If you want to switch from being just a food burning machine, to being an efficient fat burning machine, you must reduce your intake of sugar “yielding” foods. For those individuals who are particularly sensitive to sugar, its roller coaster ride can put you in a really bad mood. As many of you already know firsthand, glucose spikes and dips may make you feel irritable, depressed, confused, or just plain lousy. When sugar levels drop precipitously, and they will if you are continually bombarding your body with sugar-yielding foods, you are placing your body under a great deal of stress. In fact, your body responds as if you are under attack and starts pumping stress hormones (fight or flight) throughout your body. These hormones in turn, trigger a chain of reactions in which your body quite literally prepares for battle. That is why you often feel nervous or jittery when you are coming down from a sugar high. (Did you ever notice how your kids behave before and after they eat a sugary snack or two or three?) In order to calm down you reach for the endorphin producing, comfort-food carb. This is the absolute worst thing you can do. Why? Because the relief is short-lived (remember, “A minute on the lips; a lifetime on the hips), and, the cycle keeps repeating itself. This is why the wrong carbohydrate at the wrong time may sap your energy and cause you to quickly put on weight. I’m also not just talking about obvious junk carbohydrates like candy, chips, soda, etc…., but even supposedly healthy foods such as whole grains, bread, pasta and even fruit may be harmful to your waistline in large quantities. Although these foods have more nutrients than outright junk food, they can still cause a steep rise in blood sugar that will produce the aforementioned yo-yo effect in sugar sensitive people.
I know that these foods are touted as beneficial by the medical establishment, and in fact, according to the U.S. government’s food pyramid guide, we’re supposed to eat up to as much as 11 servings a day of starchy carbohydrates. That leaves barely any room for protein, about only 2-3 small servings worth! So why do the experts want you to fill up on sugar-yielding carbohydrates and not eat protein? It’s not that they are so keen on carbohydrates, or that they have anything against protein for that matter. It’s that they don’t want you to eat too much fat! Since the ‘80’s, groups such as the American Heart Association, American Diabetic Association, American Dietetic Association, have advised people to strictly limit their fat consumption because some forms of fat in the diet may boost cholesterol levels in the body and in turn may increase the risk of developing heart disease. Unfortunately, protein has become a casualty of the fat fight. Reason being: protein happens to be a major source of fat in the diet, so reducing fat consumption in effect reduces protein intake.
The problem is, ever since these well-respected organizations put their seals of approval on the food pyramid, the obesity rate in the US has doubled! Two decades ago, 30% of all Americans were overweight; now that number has jumped to more than half! There is no dispute that Americans are getting fatter. You know why? Because if you don’t eat fat or protein, what’s left? Those sugary carbohydrates (snacks…).
Now, I’m not advocating a high-fat diet, but I think it is ridiculous not to eat protein because of a misguided “fat phobia”, or not to eat any fat because then your body will never shrink, it will just keep all those plumped up fat cells as is!
Considering the fat aversion people have, you would think it was a useless, unhealthy nutrient that the world would be better off without. Nothing could be further from the truth. Fat is essential for a healthy body since it provides raw material for cholesterol, hormones, and is the structure of cell membranes- the protective covering of all cells. Fat is also necessary for the absorption of the fat soluble vitamins, namely: A, D, E, and K. Your brain also contains a high concentration of fat. And if you don’t eat enough fat your skin will dry out, and your hair and nails will get brittle, as often happens to people on very low-calorie, low fat diets.
Not all fats are the same. There are many different types of fat in the food we eat, and some are better for you than others. In the next article we will explore all about fat including the types of fat and their benefits/drawbacks. As the saying goes, “Someone’s opinion of you does not have to become your reality”, so to with fats, don’t put them in the recycle bin just yet. Nutrients, satiety, and taste are but just a few reasons to keep the right fats in and not out!
Simple food choices go a long way when it comes to your heart’s health. Focusing on fresh foods full of heart-healthy fats and antioxidants can decrease your risk of developing heart disease and cut your chances of a heart attack. These 10 foods will help keep your ticker in top shape.
Start your day with a steaming bowl of oats, which are full of omega-3 fatty acids, folate, and potassium. This fiber-rich superfood can lower levels of LDL (or bad) cholesterol and help keep arteries clear.
Opt for coarse or steel-cut oats over instant varieties — the coarse and steel-cut contain more fiber — and top your bowl off with a banana for another four grams of fiber.
Super-rich in omega-3 fatty acids, salmon can effectively reduce blood pressure and keep clotting at bay. Aim for two servings per week, which may reduce your risk of dying of a heart attack by up to one-third.
“Salmon contains the carotenoid astaxanthin, which is a very powerful antioxidant,” says cardiologist Stephen T. Sinatra, MD, the author of “Lower Your Blood Pressure In Eight Weeks.” But be sure to choose wild salmon over farm-raised fish, which can be packed with insecticides, pesticides, and heavy metals.
Not a fan of salmon? Other oily fish like mackerel, tuna, herring, and sardines will give your heart the same boost.
Add a bit of avocado to a sandwich or spinach salad to increase the amount of heart-healthy fats in your diet. Packed with monounsaturated fat, avocados can help lower LDL levels while raising the amount of HDL cholesterol in your body. Health.com: What puts you at risk for high cholesterol?
“Avocados are awesome,” says Dr. Sinatra. “They allow for the absorption of other carotenoids — especially beta-carotene and lycopene — which are essential for heart health.”
Full of monounsaturated fats, olive oil lowers bad LDL cholesterol and reduces your risk of developing heart disease.
Results from the Seven Countries Study, which looked at cardiovascular disease incidences across the globe, showed that while men in Crete had a predisposition for high cholesterol levels, relatively few died of heart disease because their diet focused on heart-healthy fats found in olive oil. Look for extra-virgin or virgin varieties — they’re the least processed — and use them instead of butter when cooking. Health.com: Good fats vs. bad fats — what to eat
Almonds, walnuts, and macadamia nuts are all full of omega-3 fatty acids and mono- and polyunsaturated fats.
Almonds are rich in omega-3s, plus nuts increase fiber in the diet, says Dr. Sinatra. “And like olive oil, they are a great source of healthy fat.”
Blueberries, raspberries, strawberries — whatever berry you like best — are full of anti-inflammatories, which reduce your risk of heart disease and cancer.
“Blackberries and blueberries are especially great,” says Sinatra. “But all berries are great for your vascular health.” Health.com: How I survived a heart attack at 43
Fill up on fiber with lentils, chickpeas, and black and kidney beans. They’re packed with omega-3 fatty acids, calcium and soluble fiber.
Spinach can help keep your ticker in top shape thanks to its stores of lutein, folate, potassium, and fiber.
But upping your servings of any veggies is sure to give your heart a boost. The Physicians’ Health Study examined more than 15,000 men without heart disease for a period of 12 years. Those who ate at least 2½ servings of vegetables each day cut their risk of heart disease by about 25 percent, compared with those who didn’t eat the veggies. Each additional serving reduced risk by another 17 percent.
Full of fiber and omega-3 and omega-6 fatty acids, a little sprinkling of flaxseed can go a long way for your heart. Top a bowl of oatmeal or whole-grain cereal with a smidgen of ground flaxseed for the ultimate heart-healthy breakfast.
Soy may lower cholesterol, and since it is low in saturated fat, it’s still a great source of lean protein in a heart-healthy diet.
Look for natural sources of soy, like edamame, tempeh, or organic silken tofu. And soy milk is a great addition to a bowl of oatmeal or whole-grain cereal. But watch the amount of salt in your soy: Some processed varieties like soy dogs can contain added sodium, which boosts blood pressure.