We live in the age of instant gratification. We want it all and we want it now. Forget about saving up for a new TV or computer – just put it on the credit card and pay it off $50 a month for the next 2 years. Forget about learning how to cook, buying healthy tasteful ingredients – just go down the street to Burger King and stuff your face. I’m hungry NOW! And when it comes time to lose the weight you’ve gained by eating junk food and watching that expensive TV – lyposuction to the rescue!
The same mentality goes for the muscle gaining, weight lifting, meat-head community. Instead of studying the best way to train, learning about diet, and understanding rest and rehabilitation cycles, let’s just find the newest coolest supplement that the bodybuilding magazines are pushing this month. It has your favorite athlete endorsing it so it must be legit, right? Wrong! The supplements that have been proven to work have been around for decades, and unless you plan on switching to the “dark side” (steroids), there isn’t much else out there besides your basic whey protein and creatine.
There are other options available to help gain muscle, though. And you’re in luck. Since you’ve just spent all of your money on that new TV you couldn’t afford, you’ll be happy to know that these ways to increase muscle gains are free. That’s right! FREE! Here’s a couple tips that might not be on your radar, but could really help speed up gains.
1. Carb loading. There are plenty of new supplements out there that promise to give you the energy to get through your toughest workout. Most of the time these are just simple carbohydrates and/or caffeine, which gets you about halfway through a tough workout until you crash. Hard. And you don’t want to crash when you’re trying to go for a new PR. Instead you’ll need to load up your muscles with glycogen, giving your muscles enough energy to last a long workout. An hour or so before you plan on working out, eat some pasta, potatoes, or rice.
2. Spike your insulin. Insulin is what moves nutrients into your muscles. The way to spike your insulin is to eat simple sugars – fruit juice, for example. Your body’s blood sugar will go up, and to even out the ratio your pancreas will spit out a bunch of insulin. Along with the simple sugars you consume, drink your whey protein shake and follow it with a good meal about an hour later. Just consuming protein won’t do your body any good if it can’t use it. Spike your insulin after your workouts to get the most of your post-workout shake.
3. Rest. A lot. Too many young trainees think that they’re invincible. They don’t need to rest or sleep, and they can workout multiple times a day. This will work for a while, but your body’s central nervous system will begin to shut down after a few weeks of this. Your muscle gains will stall, and your strength gains will disappear. That’s right – you’ll start getting weaker. Time your workouts. A heavy deadlift workout can easily take a week to fully recover from, and you don’t want to deadlift again until after that point. Its for this reason that I only deadlift once a week, sometimes only once every 10 days or so.
4. Red meat. As much as we all love our chicken and fish, its important to eat plenty of red meat too. Beef has been show to increase testosterone levels in men, and its also a natural source of creatine. Because it takes your body so long to digest, you can actually go a while after eating it without worrying. Your body won’t shrink – it’ll have plenty of cow to live off of. A huge meal of steak, salad, potatoes, and cheesecake can be enough to boost your gains. Sometimes it just takes a huge meal to get off that plateau.