5 Workouts to Gain Lean Muscle Mass

lean muscle mass

Are you looking to gain lean muscle, but aren’t quite sure how to do it? Gaining muscle can be very difficult, as it means you have to eat in a surplus and choose the right workouts.

Luckily, there are workouts that can help you gain lean muscle mass. What are these workouts?

Check out this guide to discover the top workouts to gain lean muscle. 

1. Swimming 

While swimming isn’t the best workout for gaining lean muscle, it will help you build muscle faster than other forms of traditional cardio like biking or running. The great thing about swimming is that you need to use all of your muscles, so you can gain lean muscle mass all over your body from this workout. 

Another great thing about swimming is that it’s incredibly easy on your joints, so you can gain muscle without putting any stress on your knees or other tender areas. Through the constant pushing and pulling on water, you’ll gain muscle mass, build your endurance, and improve your cardiovascular health. 

Also, keep in mind that you don’t just need to do the front crawl to gain muscle from swimming. Here are some other exercises you can do:

  • Tombstone Drill: Turn a kickboard vertically in the water so it faces the wall and kick your feet repeatedly to strengthen your quads, hip flexors, and hamstrings
  • Kickboard Press and Pull: Stand in shallow water and hold the kickboard vertically, then push it back and forth as fast as you can
  • Parachute Pull: There are specially-made parachutes for swimmers that can be tied around your waist to add resistance to your swim

You can also strengthen your whole body by treading in water. 

2. Running 

Most people think that running is just for losing weight, however, it can also help you build muscle. When you run, the majority of muscle work is eccentric, which puts the hardest load on the body. 

To build muscle from running, you want to focus on short, intense workouts rather than long runs. Here are some short running workouts you can do to build muscle:

  • Uphill Sprints: Find a hill and sprint up it for 20 to 30 seconds, then walk back down to where you started and repeat the drill 10 times
  • Lamp Pyramid: Start running at 40 percent effort, then once you pass a street lamp, kick it up to 60 percent, once you pass the next lamp, go up to 80 percent, then back down to 40 at the next lamp
  • Track Sprints: If you have access to a track, walk the curved section at an easy pace, and then sprint on the straightaways

The more varied you can make your running workouts, the more muscle you’ll gain. 

3. Cycling 

Cycling is another great workout for building lean muscle mass, particularly around the hamstrings, glutes, calves, and quads. To build muscle from cycling, you’ll want to take your bike out to hilly areas. 

Biking up hills puts a lot of resistance on your body, and in turn, helps you build a lot of muscle. Building muscle on an indoor bike is a lot harder, but it can be done. The best way to build muscle when indoor biking is to crank up the resistance and do short bursts at full speed followed by short rest periods. 

4. Hiking 

Not only does hiking help you build muscle, but it also boosts your mental health, as spending time in nature helps you relieve stress, improve your mood, alleviate anxiety, and boost feelings of happiness and well-being. 

When hiking, you engage several muscle groups and put them under stress for a long period of time. Ideally, you want to find hikes with a lot of incline to build as much muscle as possible. 

5. Weightlifting

You can build muscle from weightlifting more so than any other workout. Muscle mass and size increases when you continually challenge your body to deal with higher levels of weight or resistance. This process is called muscle hypertrophy. 

Muscle hypertrophy occurs when your muscle fibers sustain microscopic damage. The body repairs these muscle fibers by fusing them together, which helps increase the size and mass over time. This is why lifting weights is one of the quickest and most effective ways to gain muscle. 

To gain muscle through lifting, you can lift free weights, use weight machines, do bodyweight exercises, use resistance bands, or take strength training classes. Here are some of the best free weight exercises you can do to gain muscle:

  • Deadlifts
  • Bent over rows
  • Lunges
  • Bicep curls
  • Incline dumbbell press
  • Rear dumbbell fly
  • Tricep extensions
  • Side lunges
  • Curtsy lunges
  • Crossbody hammer curl
  • Chest fly
  • Arnold press
  • Bulgarian split squat
  • Front squat 
  • Sumo squat

And, here are some bodyweight exercises you can do to build muscle:

  • Press-ups 
  • Step up with knee raise
  • Squat jump 
  • Deep squat
  • Bicycle crunches
  • Burpees
  • Push-ups
  • Sit-ups
  • Supermans
  • Lunges
  • Spider crawl 
  • Knee tucks

The key to building muscle through lifting is to slowly add more weight or to increase the number of reps you do. If you’re lifting the same weights each week and doing the same amount of reps, you’re going to hit a plateau with your muscle gain. Instead, you need to focus on continually challenging yourself and increasing your weights or reps. 

You also want to make sure you’re hitting every muscle group. You should try to hit each muscle group twice per week. This means, for example, that on Monday you could do a leg workout, on Wednesday you could do an arm workout, and on Friday you could do a full-body workout. 

Also, keep in mind that you’ll need to eat in a calorie surplus to put on muscle. 

Are You Ready to Gain Lean Muscle Mass? 

Now that you know how to gain lean muscle mass, it’s time to start performing these workouts. Before you know it, you’ll be a lean, mean, muscular machine!

You may also want to hire a personal trainer to put together a workout program that will help you gain muscle. Click here to discover the benefits of hiring a personal trainer. 

 

 

 

 

How to Increase Your Running Endurance

running endurance

Running is one of the best exercises you can do for your health. Running helps you build strong bones, improve your cardiovascular fitness, boost your mood, maintain a healthy weight, and so much more. 

But, a lot of people steer clear of running because they don’t have the best endurance. The good news is, there are things you can do to increase your running endurance. 

Check out this guide to learn how it’s done. 

1. Build Up Mileage Slowly 

If you’re new to running, don’t feel like you need to be adding miles to your runs each week. If you truly want to build your endurance, you need to do it at a slow and steady pace. 

How many miles you add each week and how many miles you run in total will depend on your current fitness level, lifestyle, and goals. Generally speaking, it’s best to add one mile to your long weekend run. For example, if you run 5 miles on Saturday, the next Saturday, you should aim to clock in a 6-mile run. 

Then, every 4th week, skip your long run to reduce your mileage. This will allow your body to rest and recover. Then, the following week, start building up again from where you left off previously. 

2. Incorporate a Variety of Workouts 

Who would’ve thought that running less could actually help you run more?

That’s right- one of the best ways to build up your endurance over time is to incorporate a variety of non-running workouts into your routine. If you’re doing the same exercise repeatedly, your body becomes used to it, making it harder and harder for you to challenge yourself during your workouts. 

By doing a variety of workouts, you’ll constantly be surprising your body and making it readjust. Plus, there are a lot of great workouts out there that can build up your legs, glutes, core, and other muscles you need to run. 

One of the best workouts to do is a plyometric workout. This type of workout involves doing a variety of explosive movements to build up your leg muscles and endurance. Plyometric exercises that you may incorporate include box jumps, skipping drills, jump roping, and high-knee sprints. 

Other exercises you can do to build your endurance other than running include swimming, hiking, stair climbing, and weight lifting. 

3. Do Tempo Runs 

Tempo runs are another great way for you to build up your endurance. A tempo run involves running at a slower pace to build up your anaerobic and lactic threshold. 

Typically, people do tempo runs at a pace that’s about 20 to 30 seconds slower per mile than their usual race pace. Ideally, you want to hold your tempo run pace for at least 20 minutes. Aim to do one tempo run per week, and try to add five minutes to your tempo run each week. 

In addition to increasing your endurance, tempo runs can also help you increase your speed, boost your mental motivation, and make your workouts more fun. 

4. Incorporate Interval Runs 

In addition to incorporating tempo runs into your workout schedule, you should also incorporate interval runs. An interval workout involves a short bout of intense exercise followed by a short recovery period. 

During the hard part of an interval workout, you should be working so hard that you can only say a few words. Because you’re going all out for this type of workout, you want to make sure you warm up properly. Perform a 10-minute warm-up that incorporates light jogging, high knees, butt kicks, and other forms of dynamic stretching. 

Then, run at a tough pace for 30 seconds to 3 minutes. Then, slowly jog for the same amount of time to recover. Keep repeating this cycle for 10 to 15 minutes. After your workout is done, perform a 10-minute cooldown. 

In addition to increasing your endurance, interval runs also help you to improve your strength and cut down on your short-distance race times. 

5. Eat Right 

The foods you eat can make a huge difference in terms of how much endurance you’re able to build. If you aren’t eating nutritious, healthy foods, your body won’t have enough fuel to increase your endurance and help you run farther. 

Before you worry about what you eat, you first need to worry about how much you eat. One thing people love about running is that it burns a lot of calories. In fact, a 120-lb person will burn about 11.4 calories per minute of running. This means that if this person runs for just 20 minutes, they’ll burn 228 calories. 

A 180-lb person, on the other hand, burns about 17 calories per minute of running, meaning a 20-minute run will allow them to burn 340 calories. While you can go into a calorie deficit and run to lose weight, you want to make sure that deficit isn’t too big. Otherwise, you won’t have enough energy for your runs. 

While everyone’s needs are different, generally speaking, you should aim to cut around 250 calories per day from your diet if your goal is to lose weight. Simple things like putting less better on your toast or skipping milk and sugar in your coffee can help you cut out these excess calories. 

Also, as we mentioned earlier, you need to make sure you’re eating the right foods. Aim to fill your plate with plenty of fruits, veggies, whole grains, and lean proteins. Try to stay away from refined sugars, processed foods, and junk food as much as you can. 

Are You Ready to Build Your Running Endurance? 

Now that you know how to build your running endurance, it’s time to hit the ground running and put these tips to use. Before you know it, you’ll be running farther and faster than ever before. 

You may also want to hire a personal trainer to help you get in better running shape. Click here to learn about the benefits of personal training. 

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Want to See Real Results? Take Advantage of These 6 Personal Training Benefits

It’s no secret that getting physically fit could drastically improve your quality of life. For some individuals, it may even cause underlying health conditions to disappear entirely. But, there’s a handful of other positives that you may not be aware of.

Not sure where to start? Don’t worry, we’ve got you covered.

Let’s take a look at everything you need to know about personal training benefits.

1. Improved Confidence

One of the largest benefits that you experience is a drastic increase in personal confidence. When you begin to transform your physique and become stronger than ever before, it’s highly common for past insecurities to melt away.

This can directly translate into improvements at work, a more fulfilling dating life, and overall happiness in general. For example, someone who’s more confident is far more likely to develop stronger relationships with their boss, coworkers, and clients. This could easily translate into future success.

You’ll also constantly feel prepared for physical activity.

For example, going for a run after work may become a normal part of your day instead of an ordeal that you dread. Other tasks like playing outside with your family or taking your dog for a long walk will no longer become issues.

2. Improved Performance

For those who participate in athletic activity, hiring a personal trainer will cause your performance to skyrocket. This is especially true for those who play sports and are also out of shape, as being overweight or underweight isn’t conducive to peak performance and could also put you at risk of injury.

Even athletes in high school who are seeking to reach peak levels of performance and a sport can benefit from a personal trainer. In many cases, the majority of top athletes have private training sessions in addition to practices with their teams.

This is particularly true during summer vacation, where practice and training both often take a backseat to travel and relaxation.

So, consider this option if you are looking to gain extra strength or speed to help you improve your game.

3. Better Over Health

Failure to maintain a healthy body weight can result in a large number of health complications. The severity of these problems only increases as you stray further from the weight that’s ideal for you.

For example, long-term obesity could result in a heart attack, stroke, or the development of diabetes. In general, though, losing weight (or gaining it in some cases) will help you feel better overall and allow you to get more enjoyment out of life.

A personal trainer will help get you on the right path so that you can reverse your situation as quickly as possible and avoid any negative outcomes.

4. Established Discipline

Interestingly, having a fitness routine that you dedicate yourself to will also make you more disciplined in other areas of your life.

Having a personal trainer will help facilitate this, too, as you’ll have the guidance that you need in order to make consistent progress. Many people who begin to pursue fitness on their own without previous experience often fail to achieve the results they’re after. Over time, this can lead to discouragement and eventually cause them to give up.

When staying active and training have become a staple component of your lifestyle, you’re more likely to fulfill other obligations that you have. This could include going to bed on time, maintaining proper nutrition, etc.

5. You’ll Save Time

If you don’t have a clear-cut path for your fitness journey, it’s highly likely that you spent far more time then you need to in order to develop the strength and physique you desire.

In some cases, it may take you years to accomplish what you could get done in six months with the right programming. A personal trainer knows exactly how you should exercise in order to attain your goals, and they can also accommodate factors such as previous injuries, your body type/metabolism, etc.

Although many people are reluctant to spend money on a personal trainer, they end up spending more time instead. And, the extra time they spend as often worth far more than the cash they put forward for a trainer to help them.

6. Avoid Injuries

Avoiding injuries is a crucial part of a successful fitness journey. It’s not uncommon for someone’s training to be set back for months at a time due to an injury they experienced at the gym.

This is particularly true for those who perform complex movements without fully understanding the mechanics behind them, such as squats, deadlifts, power cleans, etc

Fortunately, one of the main tenants of a personal trainer’s role is to prevent injury at all costs. This means that they will slowly ease you into complex movements so that you can build proper form before you reach weights that could injure you.

In many cases, though, your trainer may avoid these movements entirely if they don’t directly help you achieve your goals. For example, those simply looking to lose weight and not improve their sprinting speed don’t always need to squat or deadlifts.

Understanding These Personal Training Benefits Can Seem Difficult

But it doesn’t have to be.

With the above information about personal training benefits in mind, you’ll be well on your way toward making the decision that’s best for you and your overall health.

Want to learn more about how I can help? Feel free to get in touch with me today to see what I can do.

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Why Group Fitness Is a Solid Investment in Your Health

Are you trying to save money by working out by yourself? How is that going for you?

Group fitness may be intimidating if you feel you are not in the best shape. You might tell yourself you’ll join a gym after you lose a few pounds.

However, many people realize that working out on your own schedule in your garage or in your back yard is not always the most effective method. They find it easy to slack off, wander over to the fridge to get a snack, and get bored.

Group fitness is the ideal way to build healthy habits that will last a lifetime. You can usually find group fitness classes near you that are affordable, and they may prove to be an investment that will pay off for years to come.

1. Peer Pressure

Peer pressure is not necessarily a bad thing, especially when it comes to a group fitness class. You will find you push yourself just a little bit harder, and last a little bit longer, when you are surrounded by others pursuing the same goal.

If you all share the same objective, you can encourage each other. Even some good-natured teasing can be enough to push you a little harder.

You will find that on a rainy or cold day, you will still pull yourself out of bed to go to your class. You won’t want to let down your buddies or let them think you aren’t strong enough to take it. If you were working out on your own, you would be far more likely to stay under the covers.

2. Community

When you join a fitness club or class, you will find a community of like-minded people. You will meet people who share your desire to be healthy and look good.

Going to class becomes more than an exercise routine. You will see your friends, catch up on their lives, and assess how you all are doing – in both your fitness objectives and other parts of life.

You become accountable to others. You show up when you say you will “see them tomorrow.” You learn what is new in the fitness world, and in the wider community – you realize you are not alone.

3. Motivation

Often, a great group fitness instructor will be a terrific motivator. Someone who looks good and practices what they preach can inspire you to take your fitness to a whole new level.

Your teachers and classmates will motivate you to keep going when you are tired or burnt out. They will encourage you when you don’t reach your goals, and praise you when you do.

4. Fun

Face it, fitness is more fun with others. You can blast music, gossip, and laugh together.

Exercise will become something you look forward to. It will become a favorite pastime when you have fun doing it, instead of a dreaded routine undertaken to simply lose weight.

And when you enjoy what you are doing, you are more likely to do it more often.

5. Variety

Variety is the spice of life. If you do the same thing over and over, eventually you will get sick and tired. Then you will stop.

A good group fitness class will not present the same routine day in and day out. It will change things up.

This is important for more than just your psyche. Good fitness requires letting parts of the body take a break to repair every few days. Your trainer should teach you about switching off different muscle groups so some can recover, in order to get even stronger.

You also need to switch it up with cardio, interval training, and other options to keep your body and mind engaged.

6. Healthy Habits

Signing up for a group fitness class may be the first of many healthy habits you can train yourself to adopt. Committing to regular exercise that requires you getting out of the house and making it through sixty minutes with other people can be the first step.

Once you start appreciating the fun of group exercise, you may find yourself picking up other healthy habits. Your new friends may invite you out for a smoothie after the gym, instead of a beer. You may find yourself drinking more water instead of sodas or energy drinks.

Once you start hanging out more with others who prioritize health, you may start paying more attention to nutrition. You will learn more about how to alter your diet, so you lose weight and have more energy.

You may also find yourself getting up earlier rather than staying up late in front of the TV. You will sleep better, feel more rested, and be generally happier and more serene as you continue to pick up more and more healthy habits.

7. Friendship

If you see people every day, you start to get to know them. You learn about their families and careers. You confide in each other about breakups, triumphs, disappointments.

Many people refer to their “gym families.” These may be people they have known for years who have seen them transform mentally and physically. When you go through that kind of change with people, it can create a lifelong bond.

8. Improved Fitness

The net benefit of all of this community, friendship, and camaraderie? Better fitness!

The more you exercise, the better your body and mind will feel. The more you learn about new forms of exercise and nutrition, the healthier you will get. The longer you can sustain your record, the more likely you are to create habits that will sustain you throughout your life.

And that life is sure to be longer and better, based on these changes you make in your lifestyle.

Group Fitness: Healthy Habits for Life

Group fitness may cost a few dollars more than a run in the park. It may be scary at first, especially if you have not seen the inside of a gym for a long time. However, it is a fun, effective way to make fitness a part of your life instead of something to be endured.

For more information on how to start a new healthy lifestyle, contact us.

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How to Correct a Muscle Imbalance

There is nothing worse than training hard for months to only notice a muscle imbalance. It is common that many of us have more strength on one side of our muscles than the other, but when this becomes visible it can be disheartening. Luckily, there are a few ways in which you can correct a muscle imbalance.

Firstly, let’s look at what a muscle imbalance exactly is; a muscle imbalance occurs when the size or strength between two muscles, or even muscle groups, is different. There are typically three ways in which you can categorize a muscle imbalance:

  • Symmetrical imbalance: when one side visibly appears different to the other; for example, one calf being much more defined than the other.
  • Strength imbalance: during an execution of an exercise, a noticeable difference between the strength you have; for example, when performing a chest press, noticing that one side is capable of pushing much faster than the other.
  • Proportional imbalance: when your upper body is more defined than the lower (or vice versa), making you look imbalanced in general.

So, what causes a muscle imbalance you may wonder? The most common causes of this are either poor programming, bad form, existing injury or issues with your flexibility or mobility. Now that you understand a bit more about muscle imbalances, let’s talk about how you can correct it.

Try Unilateral Exercises 

When performing exercises that require you to use both sides of your body, such as a barbell bench press, your dominant muscle will always take control when you notice that one muscle is stronger than the other. Unilateral exercises allow you to focus on working just the weaker muscle to help build its strength to perform at the same level as the other. Make the following swaps if you are experiencing a muscle imbalance:

  • Barbell bench press for dumbbell bench press
  • Barbell squats for dumbbell lunges
  • Barbell bicep curls for dumbbell bicep curls
  • Barbell shoulder press for dumbbell shoulder press

Always Train Your Weaker Side First

Without even thinking it, we subconsciously train our stronger side when performing unilateral exercises. By starting out with your weaker side, you are more likely to see the benefits and help correct a muscle imbalance.

Choose Your Weight Based on Your Weaker Side

While you may be capable of lifting 20 pounds, for example, if you struggle to do this on your weaker side, you should choose weights that challenge your weaker side without working to failure on it. This will provide enough of a challenge for your weaker side and will still work your more dominant side without encouraging muscle gain on that side.

Work Your Weaker Muscles More

We have all been guilty of working certain areas more than others because we prefer certain kinds of workouts compared to others. However, this is one of the biggest causes of muscle imbalance. If you have muscle groups or single muscles that are weaker or on the smaller side, you should do additional work to help compensate. You can do this in a couple of ways – either by increasing your overall volume for those weaker muscle groups as well as increasing your training load; to do this, you will want to be gradually increasing load, reducing rest time and increasing reps or sets.

You should always consider your form and anytime you notice your form slipping, stop! It is better to perform a few perfect reps, rather than a load of poorly executed ones. Always be sure to work on your flexibility by stretching properly before and after exercise.

Now, let’s focus specifically on what you can do, depending on the sort of imbalance you have:

Strength and Symmetrical Imbalance

Put the barbell aside for a while and start focusing on using dumbbells to work muscles and muscle groups individually, always being sure to start working on the weaker side. Allow your weaker side to help select the load you are using and throw in a few extra reps on each set on the weaker side.

Proportional Imbalance

To really fix this issue you are going to need to reduce the load you put on stronger areas in your body and focuses specifically on the areas that are weaker. To get the weaker muscles and muscle groups up to speed, increase the volume of work they endure.

Even when taking the necessary precautions, muscle imbalance can still occur. Sometimes, without even realizing we are causing it ourselves. Look for the signs (symmetrical, strength or proportional) and correct it. Find the exercise(s) that work best for your body and the best for correction. If possible, speak to a personal trainer or talk to someone who has experienced a muscle imbalance with their training. It’s not a permanent issues, but it can be a frustrating one. 

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What is Progressive Overload?

If you have started strength training or are considering it in the near future, you will want to learn everything there is to know about progressive overload. Progressive overload is an increase in stress placed upon your body while training, whether that is in the form of additional weight, increased reps, or perhaps even more focus on better form and performance by adjusting tempo. If you have been lifting weights for some time and noticed that you hardly see any changes, it is because you have not been using the principles of progressive overload. In order to build muscle, you must challenge them, and the best way to do this is with progressive overload; if you always perform the exact same exercise routine with the same weight and number of reps, you are never going to see progress! Let’s look at how best you can use progressive overload! 

Before we start, let’s just note that there is no hard and fast rule that we can give you regarding how much extra you should be adding to your load or how many extra reps you should do, as it is extremely individual. These rules, however, will help point you in the right direction and help you determine what progressive means to you and your body.

Perfect Form Is Superior to Everything Else!

Whether you are in a group class or working out in the gym, you may feel pressured due to those around you who are capable of handling heavier weight or doing more reps. The most important thing here to remember is that your form is more important than the amount of weight you use or the number of reps you perform, because incorrect form can lead to injuries and will hinder your growth. Before you even begin worrying about anything else, ensure you form is perfect – even if that means losing weights entirely for a bit until then! This is where working with a personal trainer can be so helpful, as they can help guide you and correct your form.

Start with Increasing Reps

For many people, it is best to start by increasing reps as opposed to weight. It may feel exciting and you may want to be able to grab the next jump up in weight, but hold your horses! Instead, increase your reps first. So, for example, if you are squatting with a 50 pound barbell for 10 reps, rather than introducing a new plate, aim for 12 reps, then progressively 15, moving onto 20. Once you have got to this point, you can then increase weight and drop your reps back down to 10. 

Don’t be Too Hard on Yourself!

This is one of the most important things you need to remember regardless of what you are trying to achieve with your fitness goals. Some weeks are going to be better than others, but always try to get up and show up! All of our fitness journeys differ and are rarely linear. There will be times where you feel very tired and may not feel as strong as normal; listen to your body and decrease weight/reps if you feel this way. 

There Are Many Factors That Can Affect the Results of Progressive Overload

Remember, there is so much more to progress than simply training. Your nutrition, stress levels, and sleep have a major impact on how your body responds to training. If all of these factors are not in sync, you will never see the progress you want. Keep all of your goals aligned and the progress you see will be tremendous! 

You Can Achieve Progress Overload in Many Ways 

Remember, progressive overload does not necessarily refer to increase in weight. In fact, progress overload is anything that increases the stress placed onto the body, and this can include volume, range of motion, density and frequency. Once you have perfected your form and are in a position to start challenging yourself, why not consider trying out some of the below progressive overload ideas:

  • Lift the same load for a longer distance
  • Lift the same load for an increased number of reps
  • Increase load
  • Lift load with increased speed 
  • Increase the number of training sessions per week
  • Introduce static holds, partial reps and drop sets
  • Decrease rest time in between sets 

Training takes dedication and commitment, and at times, can be frustrating, but it can be so rewarding at the same time! Don’t become complacent in your routines, instead focus on how you can find new ways to switch up your training programs and challenge yourself, which can bring about such incredible results.