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Tips to Avoid the Endless Cycle of Bulk and Cut

Tips to Avoid the Endless Cycle of Bulk and Cut

If you pursue the traditional route to bulking up, you end up dealing with an endless cycle. First, you consume all of the calories you need to support muscle growth, ultimately adding fat along the way. Then, you cut back on calories, ramp up the cardio, and try to burn the fat.

While this initially sounds effective, the cutting phase also causes a decrease in muscle mass. To combat the muscle loss, you start the cycle over. You spend all of your time going around and around, never really reaching a steady point that you can simply maintain.

If you want to end the cycle of bulking up and cutting down, then use these tips to help you bulk up the right way.

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Eat (and Drink) the Right Way

To add bulk, you need to make sure you are consuming an appropriate amount of calories. However, this doesn’t mean you can ignore the nutritional value of those calories. If the type of calories didn’t matter, you could fuel yourself on pints from the local pub, but that isn’t how it works.

Building mass requires a mixture of nutrients; this includes a healthy mix of protein, fat, and carbohydrates. Vitamins and minerals are also critical to the process. Additionally, you want to get all of these nutrients from high-quality sources.

Instead of focusing solely on the calories, pay attention to your overall nutrition. You should be getting your calories from a range of foods and beverages. You should be including lean meats, fresh produce, and healthy fats. Avoid excess sugars, especially added sugar, and foods that are overly processed. Most importantly, not all sources of protein are created equal.

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Some supplements may feature a large amount of protein, but from less popular source. These may be harder for your body to use as fuel, and could lead to wasted effort. Since there are a variety of weight gain supplements on the market, make sure to choose the best options available. Then, you meet your nutritional goals while bulking up without sacrificing on quality.

If you prefer to know precisely what is going into your foods and drinks, you can also try a homemade weight gainer to supplement your regular diet. A homemade solution gives you the highest level of control, as you can choose exactly what is and is not included.

Burn That Fuel

Now that you have the right fuel coming into your body, it is important that you burn it off. Regardless of the quality of your nutrition, if you don’t burn the calories, you will add fat along with the muscle.

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If you have just started your workout routine, you may see results very quickly. This is because you are challenging your body with your workout. As time passes, and you gain more mass, your body will become more efficient. Moves that initially brought you newly sculpted arms and shoulders won’t have the same impact. Not only that, but you will also not burn as many calories performing the move.

It is important to continuously challenge your body in new ways to keep your calorie burn high enough to keep fat stores at bay. This includes regularly adding heavier weights to your foundational moves and trying new ones that work your muscles in different ways. If it ever begins to feel easy, it is time to ramp it up.

As the amount of muscle on your frame increases, you will automatically burn more calories by simply existing. Some estimates suggest that you may naturally burn up to an additional 50 calories a day per extra pound of muscle. However, you must continue to work out to keep the muscle well developed.

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Stick With It

Persistence is truly the key to success. Even if you do not see results quickly, the results will come. Re-evaluate your diet to see if your nutrition is lacking while making sure you consume enough calories to support muscle growth. When in doubt, focus on high-quality lean proteins and a variety of vegetables first. This can help make sure you have the right building blocks in place to achieve the body of your dreams.

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Last Updated on November 6, 2020

10 Ways to Quickly Boost Your Workout Motivation

10 Ways to Quickly Boost Your Workout Motivation

You come in from a long day at the office, and you want to get a workout in, but you can’t find the motivation. Or maybe you think you have workout motivation, but “life” is getting in the way.

Making your workout a priority and finding ways to fit it into your schedule will offer you a host of health benefits, help you lose weight, and make you feel like you’ve got your mojo back.

Working out will be a lot easier if you view it as a gift you give to yourself versus a distasteful activity you have to get through. Think about your health and vitality — by working out, you are treating yourself as a priority and coming from a place of self-love.

Studies show that regular exercise changes the brain to improve memory and thinking skills.[1] So if you’re using the excuse that work is taking over too much for you to have time to work out, think of your workout as a part of your work day. You’re helping your brain be sharper at work.

“Healthy exercise is valuable not only for the maintenance of good physiologic function of the body, but also mental clarity, and the feeling of good health.” —Paul Dudley White, MD

Once you’re ready to make your fitness goals a priority and give yourself the gift of regular exercise routines, how do you implement your workout plans into your daily life?

Here are 10 ways to boost your workout motivation. These strategies will help you keep your fire for working out going strong.

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1. Commit to Your Calendar

Say you want to work out for 30 minutes 3 times a week. Look at your calendar for that week and see where those spots will fit in the best. Then, make a commitment to sticking to those times.

One exercise study showed that a big obstacle to maintaining regular exercise is being able to fit it into a person’s schedule.[2] Make these appointments with yourself unbreakable. Maybe you can handle variety, so one day a week you might have an early morning workout. Another day that week, you might fit it in after work.

2. Start Your Day with 20 Minutes for Your Workout

You may have great intentions for working out after work or during a lunch hour, but inevitably other commitments will encroach into that time and kill your workout motivation.

If you get on up and knock out your workout first thing, you reap the benefits all day long of that energy boost. This workout could be a morning walk or hitting the yoga mat right when you get out of bed.

3. Expand Your Horizons and Seek out Variety

Our brains crave variety. If you are stuck in the rut of the same old workout, it might be time to stretch yourself.

Brainstorm some wild ideas that sound appealing to you. Look for fencing classes in your area. See if there’s a place near you where you can rent kayaks, and look for some local outdoor clubs where you could go kayaking with others.

Even if the new thing you try is challenging, give yourself some time to stick with it enough to see if it might be for you.

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4. Include Social Time in Your Workout

Having a hard time fitting in a workout because of your social life? Instead of only getting together with your friends at the wine bar, see if you can schedule a hike in the park with them, or you could join a rec league like kickball. You could talk a friend into joining with you, or you could sign up by yourself and meet some new pals.

Some exercise research has reported that competition is a key motivator for exercise, and you can use that to your advantage in one of these leagues.[3]

Other opportunities include playing basketball or tennis at local parks, gyms, or fitness centers. Scope out some ways to make your workout more social or combine fitness activities with your social life to create more workout motivation.

5. Use Music to Inspire You

Is your playlist stale? Spend some time creating a great workout playlist. Search Spotify or create some motivating stations on Pandora.

Think about what songs make you move. If you hear that song, you just can’t sit still. Even the theme song from Rocky might be a good motivator for you.

You can create multiple theme playlists to spark more creativity and fun in your workout. How about making a playlist of Best All-Time Roller Skating Songs? Or Best Heavy Metal Workout Songs? Best 80’s Workout Playlist (maybe it includes Let’s Get Physical).

6. Find Some Cool Podcasts

If music isn’t really your thing, download podcasts or audiobooks that interest you. Getting lost in a good podcast or audiobook can make the time fly by during your workout. And if you get the satisfaction of “multi-tasking” — you’re getting your exercise in while reading a book or staying up to date on a podcast.

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For an extra boost of workout motivation, if you’re listening to an audiobook, stop it at a cliffhanger and decide not to listen again until the next time you work out. This will motivate you to start exercising so you can see exactly what happens.

7. Update Your Gear

Maybe you’re not up for working out because your workout gear is from the dark ages. If you go to pull out a T-shirt for your workout, and it’s full of holes, it’s time to re-do your workout wardrobe.

Think of getting new workout gear as investing in yourself. How often do we make sure our living rooms or kitchens are state of the art, but we don’t put any time, energy, or money into our personal effects?

It could be as simple as getting a new water bottle. Making sure you have supportive and properly fitting shoes is key to achieving your workout goals. And if you get a new workout tee or tights, it can make you more motivated to get moving.

8. Get Organized for Your Workout

Set out what you need as motivation for your workout. If you are going on a morning run, lay out your workout clothes alongside some motivational quotes the night before. Fill your water bottle and set it on the counter.

For the after-work exercisers, pack your bag of clothes to take with you to work so you have no excuse not to go to the gym. If you are coming home after work, set your clothes out so that when you come home they will be a not-so-gentle reminder to you saying, “It’s time to go on your walk!”

9. Use Alarms as Nudging Reminders

So you’re not a morning person. If you think getting up earlier to squeeze a workout in before work is just not going to happen for you, then set an alarm for the time you need to start preparing for your workout in the afternoon/evening.

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If you want to go on a walk at 6pm, set an alarm for 5:30pm as a reminder. When you hear the alarm, it’s a workout motivation reminder. You don’t want to shirk on your health and fitness.

10. Trade Exercise for That After-Work Happy Hour

Maybe you are skipping some workouts to meet co-workers at happy hour. Or you come in from a long day at work and have a glass of wine first thing to alleviate the stress of the day. While it’s sometimes nice to unwind with a glass of wine, doing so after work could become a habit, and you can replace that habit with exercise.

By cutting out alcohol right after work, it gives you more time in the day to get a workout in. Try to go straight from work to your workout, or put your exercise clothes on the minute you get home and head back out the door for your run or walk. Whatever it is, think of that happy hour as a new kind of “happy hour time” for your to treat yourself and your body to your workout.

Exercise can help stave off anxiety and depression, so if your post-work drink is to alleviate post-work stress and anxiety, give a neighborhood walk a whirl instead.[4]

The Bottom Line

Life sometimes gets in the way of our plans, including our plans to work out and stick to weight loss goals. However, by maintaining the attitude of self-love and giving yourself the gift of time to exercise, you can use the above tips to help you stay on track with your workout motivation.

By using some organizational tricks and remembering your reasons for making your workout a priority, you’ll not only find the time to fit it in but feel good about doing so.

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Featured photo credit: juan pablo rodriguez via unsplash.com

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