- Men's Health
- Women's Health
- Health and Wellbeing
- Consultant Q&A's
- Editor's Choice
Britain is experiencing a fitness boom. If you’re craving ‘T-shirt muscles’, a firmer and flatter stomach, or calves carved of solid marble, our guide to gains will help you pile on the pounds in the right way.
While it’s true that more Brits than ever are battling obesity, more and more of us are hitting the gym in an effort to emulate magazine cover models with bulging pecs and biceps. So how do you go about joining their ranks?
Hitting the weights hard is a given if you’re looking to gain muscle. You’ll need to visit the gym regularly, which shouldn’t feel like a chore if you think of it as a sprint rather than a marathon. Short, high-intensity visits test your muscles far more and keep your body guessing, so you’ll see faster results1
. Aim to go at least five times a week if your schedule allows – after a few weeks it should feel like part of your routine.
Be sure to switch up your workouts regularly; you’d be amazed at how quickly your body learns to cope with what you throw at it. Up the weights or the reps every couple of weeks to keep your gains going.
It’s important to maintain good form when doing weight training, otherwise you might suffer from an injury. If you’re a total newbie at the gym, ask a personal trainer or a friend who knows what they’re doing to show you the correct techniques. And start slowly.
The good news is that muscle memory means your body should snap back into shape fairly quickly after a period away from the gym if you do become injured2. Everyone will suffer injuries at some point, so be sure to let your body recover fully and properly if you’ve pushed yourself too hard; working out too soon can prolong an injury and ultimately leave you requiring physiotherapy.
Muscular bodies are made in the kitchen as well as the gym3. Good nutrition means you won’t have to train as hard in order to see the results you want; if you think you’re already eating well but seem to be getting nowhere, a dietary consultation can help you spot weaknesses in your current diet and pinpoint where you can make effective changes.
You’ll never gain muscle if you’re eating like a sparrow. Your body needs calories to rebuild after hitting the weights – around 500 more than your body needs to just ‘tick over’4. Eating immediately after training will give your body access to the calories it needs to grow your muscles.
It goes without saying that your diet should include lots of fruits and vegetables, as these are part of any healthy diet. Reduce your carb intake as much as possible by avoiding rice, potatoes, pasta and bread, unless you’re having them immediately after a workout.
Lean meat is a staple part of a low-fat, high-protein diet. Your muscles need protein to recover and grow, and low-fat meats like skinless chicken, turkey and lean beef are ideal. If you don’t eat meat, tuna and eggs are great alternatives, as are beans and pulses.
If you’re trying to lose belly fat while gaining muscle, you should make sure you’re still getting the calories your body needs. Drinking plenty of water will stave off hunger pangs throughout the day, and help you perform better at the gym, too.
Aim to eat several small meals throughout the day to keep your metabolism burning constantly; this will help you lose weight while you’re gaining muscle. Cottage cheese is full of great, slow-burning protein that is ideal if you have no choice but to go long periods without eating.
Your body will also need some fat. Fats are essential for hormone production – chiefly testosterone and those responsible for growth. Poly- and mono-unsaturated fats are the good kind you should aim to include in your diet, through oily fish, avocados, nuts and leafy vegetables.
We all lead busy lives, so getting everything your body needs through diet alone can be more time-consuming than is practical. It can be tempting to let supplements fill in the blanks, but remember they are designed to supplement your diet, not replace it.
Protein shakes can help you feed your muscles immediately after a workout if you’re not able to get a proper meal in. Try to avoid this by planning and preparing your meals for the week in advance if you can.
A dietary consultation can help you to understand more about how your diet affects your health and build a plan that suits you.
To find out more call us on 0808 101 0337
or make an online enquiry.