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Published on May 18, 2018

How to Make Muscle Building Workout Work for You (+Workout Routine)

How to Make Muscle Building Workout Work for You (+Workout Routine)

It may not be common knowledge, but 80% of muscle building is done outside of the gym/workout-space. This article explores all aspects of building muscle that you may not have heard about from your local trainer, or fellow gym-goer and will get you the muscle building workout that works for you.

Your biggest block to building muscle

Before we start discussing muscle building workout routines, I’d like to explain that one of the biggest deterrents from building muscle is stress in the body. No matter what routine you apply, if your life is filled with stress, you’ll find building muscle to be quite challenging.

Stress can completely diminish your efforts of building muscle by way of causing adrenal fatigue, which is a taxing of the adrenal glands, forcing them to overproduce or under-produce cortisol, the stress hormone, at the wrong times.

Stress will also impair your ability to get a good night’s sleep, which in essence is when you are in fact building the most muscle – during the 5th stage of the sleep cycle – REM (Rapid Eye Movement) Deep Sleep.

This video discusses about how sleep has effect on your muscle building process:

Effective methods to reduce stress include being in nature, meditation, regular exercise, and the dietary removal of simple sugars and carbs.

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High sugar/carb diets will increase inflammation, cause joint discomfort, and generally make you feel lethargic which will inevitably lead to increased stress levels due to your inability to optimally manage life circumstances as they arise. Essentially when you are consuming large amounts of sugar, your capacity to think clearly and perform problem solving is severely diminished.

How diet affects muscle building

Since we’re on the topic of diet, I’d like to make it very clear that if you are not consuming antiquate macro nutrients (Protein, Carbs, Fats) and Micro Nutrients (essential vitamins and minerals), any effort you make towards building muscle will be in vein.

A quality high protein diet

To effectively build muscle, you absolutely must support any muscle building routines with a quality high protein diet. Now you may be thinking, “hey, I make protein shakes all the time!”.. let me explain that synthetic protein holds no comparison to that of high quality food based protein.

The branched chain amino acid complex from a steak or chicken breast far surpasses that of any protein powder. The only time you should consider protein supplements is if they are to support an already established well rounded diet. Those powders should be compounded from hemp, pea protein, or even grasshopper protein – all of which I suggest above any whey/isolate proteins.

Minerals and supplements

Along with structured dieting, you must consume lots of water to actually reap the benefits of your training efforts, and I also suggest supplements such as Creatine Monohydrate and unflavored BCAA (Branched-Chain Amino Acid) which are the essential amino acids valine, isoleucine, and leucine.

Utilizing BCAA powder will help stimulate muscle Protein synthesis – the metabolic process that takes place when your body creates new muscle protein. BCAA’s will also help reduce the rate of protein breakdown by reducing activity in the protein breakdown pathway, and decreasing the expression of complexes involved in protein breakdown (reducing the amount of mRNA).

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Now that we’ve discussed stress, quality of sleep, and diet.. let’s get into the actual muscle building routines that’ll get you some muscle gains!

Keep in mind any workout routine requires absolute dedication and consistency to see results – if you are not consistent, don’t expect miracles!

What is a good muscle building workout training?

Generally speaking any muscle building workout program should consider both high repetition training for hypertrophy and low repetition for strength training.

Hypertrophy is n increase in size of skeletal muscle through a growth in size of its component cells. Two factors contribute to hypertrophy:

  • Sarcoplasmic hypertrophy, which focuses more on increased muscle glycogen storage;
  • Myofibrillar hypertrophy, which focuses more on increased myofibril size.

For strength training, it generally means the strengthening of the C.N.S. (Central Nervous System), that occurs while working out in a lower rep range with higher amount of weight – increased physical exertion by way of maximal force production.

Our goal is to build larger muscles but to support them with a foundation of strength. You can achieve this by implementing a simple workout routine, which I’ll describe below, or a more complex training program.

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How to start as a beginner

Developing muscle heavily revolves around ‘pumping’ blood and oxygen into the muscles. In fact that’s where the popular term ‘getting a pump’ is derived from.

Red blood cells carry hemoglobin which oxygen bonds with as the hemoglobin rich blood cells move through the lungs blood vessels. The now oxygen rich blood cells carry that oxygen to the cells that are demanding it, in this case skeletal muscle cells.

If you are a beginner to building muscle and working out, then it’s actually very effective to apply a ‘Whole-Body Split’ routine, whereby you are literally working out all muscle groups each day for at least 3-5 days per week. This approach is effective for newbies because you have not developed any muscular hypertrophy and your body will respond quite well to full body routines before you hit a plateau/ceiling.

As a beginner, your body will adapt well to the high frequency training. When I first started lifting weights, I performed full body routines for the first 3 months before hitting this plateau which requires changing to a more intermediate, and later advanced routine. The routine I’ve found most effective includes a blend of cardio vascular training, high repetition weight training, and low repetition strength training.

In this video, I discussed how much cardio to do for weight loss to give you an idea of how to apply cardio within your routine:

An effective muscle building workout routine should include at least 3 days of training per week, and ideally 4 or more days.

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The simple muscle building workout routine

Below outlines the basic structure of a 3-day per week bodybuilding/muscle building workout regimen. This is merely to give an example of a training ‘split’ which I recommend for optimal muscle development and allowed recovery time.

Feel free to adjust the day in which your workout lands; as long as you are hitting a 4 day minimum and giving antiquate time for rest, you’ll see results!

Monday (Push/Pull – Chest & Back)

  • 15min Warmup Cardio (increasing the pace every 5min)
  • 30-45min Weight Training/Resistance Training (super-sets being ideal to maintain elevated heart rate and ‘pump’)
  • Exercises such as push-ups, weighted or normal pull-ups, bench press, dumbbell press, bent over rows, cable machine chest fly, lat pull-downs, and more
  • 10min Cool-Down Cardio (steady-stay, walking pace or slow jog)

Tuesday

  • Optional REST

Wednesday (Lower Body – Quads, Hamstrings, Calves)

  • 15min Warmup Cardio (increasing the pace every 5min)
  • 30-45min Weight Training/Resistance Training (no supersets, but keep minimal rest between each set 3-5min)
  • Exercises such as squats, deadlifts, leg press, calf raises, sled pushing, plyometrics such as box jumps, and much more
  • 10min Cool-Down Cardio (steady-stay, walking pace or slow jog)

Thursday

  • Optional REST

Friday (Arms – Shoulders, Biceps, Triceps)

  • 15min Warmup Cardio (increasing the pace every 5min)
  • 20-30min Weight Training/Resistance Training (super-sets being ideal to maintain elevated heart rate and ‘pump’)
  • Exercises such as shoulder raises, bicep curls, tricep extensions, overhead pressing including Arnold shoulder-press
  • 10min Cool-Down Cardio (steady-stay, walking pace or slow jog)

Saturday

  • Optional REST, recommend active recovery cardio activities (walking, biking, hiking, jogging)

Sunday

  • Optional REST, recommend active recovery cardio activities (walking, biking, hiking, jogging)

Bonus: Complex muscle building workouts

Now that we’ve covered the basics of full-body splits and 3 day a week splits, I’m going to touch on popular muscle building workout programs that are commonly used by intermediate to expert bodybuilders, powerlifters, and powerbuilders (a combination of the two).

You can download these programs as templates (in microsoft excel format) and enter your information. Below outlines the suggested programs which will help build muscle and strength.

  • Jim Wendler 5-3-1 Template
    The core philosophy behind 5/3/1 revolves around basic tenets of strength training that have stood the test of time.
  • Texas Method Template
    The Texas Method (TM) is a strength training program renowned for its ability to provide intermediate to advanced lifters (those with 18-24+ months of continuous training according to legendary strength training coach Mark Rippetoe) with increased variety and physical adaptation.[1]

Conclusion

Building muscle requires dedication, commitment and there are simply no shortcuts.

In this article, I’ve outlined several approaches to building muscle for beginners, as well as those that are more advanced. Please keep in mind the pillars of building muscle which I had mentioned above – stress reduction, quality sleep, and adjustments to diet including increased hydration.

If you apply these simple steps, you’ll be well on your way to building loads of muscle – good luck!

Featured photo credit: pixabay via pixabay.com

Reference

[1]Starting Strength: Mark Rippetoe

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Adam Evans

Creative Director, BioHacker, Researcher, Competitive Athlete

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How to Control Your Thoughts and Become the Master of Your Mind

How to Control Your Thoughts and Become the Master of Your Mind

Your mind is the most powerful tool you have for the creation of good in your life, but if not used correctly, can also be the most destructive force in your life.

Your mind, more specifically, your thoughts, affect your perception and therefore, your interpretation of reality.

I have heard that the average person thinks around 70,000 thoughts a day. That’s a lot, especially if they are unproductive, self-abusive and just a general waste of energy.

You can let your thoughts run amok, but why would you? It is your mind, your thoughts; isn’t it time to take your power back? Isn’t it time to take control?

Choose to be the person who is actively, consciously thinking your thoughts. Become the master of your mind.

When you change your thoughts, you will change your feelings as well, and you will also eliminate the triggers that set off those feelings. Both of these outcomes provide you with a greater level of peace in your mind.

I currently have few thoughts that are not of my own choosing or a response from my reprogramming. I am the master of my mind, so now my mind is quite peaceful. Yours can be too!

Who Is Thinking My Thoughts?

Before you can become the master of your mind, you must recognize that you are currently at the mercy of several unwanted “squatters” living in your mind, and they are in charge of your thoughts. If you want to be the boss of them, you must know who they are and what their motivation is, and then you can take charge and evict them.

Here are four of the “squatters” in your head that create the most unhealthy and unproductive thoughts:

1. The Inner Critic

This is your constant abuser. He is often a conglomeration of:

  • Other people’s words; many times your parents.
  • Thoughts you have created based on your own or other peoples expectations.
  • Comparing yourself to other people, including those in the media.
  • The things you told yourself as a result of painful experiences such as betrayal and rejection. Your interpretation creates your self-doubt and self-blame, which are most likely undeserved in cases of rejection and betrayal.

He is motivated by pain, low self-esteem, lack of self-acceptance and lack of self-love.

Why else would he abuse you? And since “he” is actually you– why else would you abuse yourself? Why would you let anyone treat you this badly?

2. The Worrier

This person lives in the future; in the world of “what ifs.”

He is motivated by fear which is often irrational and with no basis for it.

Occasionally, he is motivated by fear that what happened in the past will happen again.

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3. The Reactor or Trouble-Maker

He is the one that triggers anger, frustration and pain. These triggers stem from unhealed wounds of the past. Any experience that is even closely related to a past wound will set him off.

He can be set off by words or feelings. He can even be set off by sounds and smells.

He has no real motivation; he has poor impulse control and is run by past programming that no longer serves you, if it ever did.

4. The Sleep Depriver

This can be a combination of any number of different squatters including the inner planner, the rehasher, and the ruminator, along with the inner critic and the worrier.

His motivation can be:

  • As a reaction to silence, which he fights against
  • Taking care of the business you neglected during the day
  • Self-doubt, low self-esteem, insecurity and generalized anxiety
  • As listed above for the inner critic and worrier

How can you control these squatters?

How to Master Your Mind

You are the thinker and the observer of your thoughts. You must pay attention to your thoughts so you can identify “who” is running the show; this will determine which technique you will want to use.

Begin each day with the intention of paying attention to your thoughts and catching yourself when you are thinking undesirable thoughts.

There are two ways to control your thoughts:

  • Technique A – Interrupt and replace them
  • Technique B – Eliminate them altogether

This second option is what is known as peace of mind!

The technique of interrupting and replacing is a means of reprogramming your subconscious mind. Eventually, the replacement thoughts will become the “go to” thoughts in the applicable situations.

Use Technique A with the Inner Critic and Worrier and Technique B with the Reactor and Sleep Depriver.

For the Inner Critic

When you catch yourself thinking something negative about yourself (calling yourself names, disrespecting yourself, or berating yourself), interrupt it.

You can yell (in your mind), “Stop! No!” or, “Enough! I’m in control now.” Then, whatever your negative thought was about yourself, replace it with an opposite or counter thought or an affirmation that begins with “I am.”

For example, if your thought is, “I’m such a loser,” you can replace it with, “I am a Divine Creation of the Universal Spirit. I am a perfect spiritual being learning to master the human experience. I am a being of energy, light, and matter. I am magnificent, brilliant, and beautiful. I love and approve of myself just as I am.”

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You can also have a dialogue with yourself with the intention of discrediting the ‘voice’ that created the thought, if you know whose voice it is:

“Just because so-and-so said I was a loser doesn’t make it true. It was his or her opinion, not a statement of fact. Or maybe they were joking and I took it seriously because I’m insecure.”

If you recognize that you have recurring self-critical thoughts, you can write out or pre-plan your counter thoughts or affirmation so you can be ready. This is the first squatter you should evict, forcefully, if necessary:

  • He riles up the Worrier.
  • The names you call yourself become triggers when called those names by others, so he also maintains the presence of the Reactor.
  • He is often present when you try to fall asleep so he perpetuates the Sleep Depriver.
  • He is a bully and is verbally and emotionally abusive.
  • He is the destroyer of self-esteem. He convinces you that you’re not worthy. He’s a liar! In the interest of your self-worth, get him out!

Eliminate your worst critic and you will also diminish the presence of the other three squatters.

Replace him with your new best friend who supports, encourages, and enhances your life. This is a presence you want in your mind.

For the Worrier

Prolonged anxiety is mentally, emotionally and physically unhealthy. It can have long-term health implications.

Fear initiates the fight or flight response, creates worry in the mind and creates anxiety in the body.

You should be able to recognize a “worry thought” immediately by how you feel. The physiological signs that the fight or flight response of fear has kicked in are:

  • Increased heart rate, blood pressure, or surge of adrenaline
  • Shallow breathing or breathlessness
  • Muscles tense

Use the above stated method to interrupt any thought of worry and then replace it. But this time you will replace your thoughts of worry with thoughts of gratitude for the outcome you wish for.

If you believe in a higher power, this is the time to engage with it. Here is an example:

Instead of worrying about my loved ones traveling in bad weather, I say the following (I call it a prayer):

“Thank you great spirit for watching over _______. Thank you for watching over his/her car and keeping it safe, road-worthy, and free of maintenance issues without warning. Thank you for surrounding him/her with only safe, conscientious, and alert drivers. And thank you for keeping him/her safe, conscientious, and alert.”

Smile when you think about it or say it aloud, and phrase it in the present tense; both of these will help you feel it and possibly even start to believe it.

If you can visualize what you are praying for, the visualization will enhance the feeling so you will increase the impact in your vibrational field.

Now take a calming breath, slowly in through your nose, and slowly out through the mouth. Take as many as you like!

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Replacing fearful thoughts with gratitude will decrease reactionary behavior, taking the steam out of the Reactor.

For example:

If your child gets lost in the mall, the typical parental reaction that follows the fearful thoughts when finding them is to yell at them.

“I told you never to leave my sight.” This reaction just adds to the child’s fear level from being lost in the first place. Plus, it also teaches them that mom and/or dad will get mad when he or she makes a mistake, which may make them lie to you or not tell you things in the future.

Change those fearful thoughts when they happen:

“Thank You (your choice of Higher Power) for watching over my child and keeping him safe. Thank you for helping me find him soon.”

Then, when you see your child after this thought process, your only reaction will be gratitude, and that seems like a better alternative for all people involved.

For the Trouble-Maker, Reactor or Over-Reactor

Permanently eliminating this squatter will take a bit more attention and reflection after the fact to identify and heal the causes of the triggers; but until then, you can prevent the Reactor from getting out of control by initiating conscious breathing as soon as you recognize his presence.

The Reactor’s thoughts or feelings activate the fight or flight response just like with the Worrier. The physiological signs of his presence will be the same. With a little attention, you should be able to tell the difference between anxiety, anger, frustration, or pain:

  • Increased heart rate and blood pressure; surge of adrenaline
  • Shallow breathing or breathlessness
  • Muscles tension

I’m sure you’ve heard the suggestion to count to ten when you get angry—well, you can make those ten seconds much more productive if you are breathing consciously during that time.

Conscious breathing is as simple as it sounds; just be conscious of your breathing. Pay attention to the air going in and coming out.

Breathe in through your nose:

  • Feel the air entering your nostrils.
  • Feel your lungs filling and expanding.
  • Focus on your belly rising.

Breathe out through your nose:

  • Feel your lungs emptying.
  • Focus on your belly falling.
  • Feel the air exiting your nostrils.

Do this for as long as you like. Leave the situation if you want. This gives the adrenaline time to normalize.

Now you can address the situation with a calmer, more rational perspective and avoid damaging behavior.

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One of the troubles this squatter causes is that it adds to the sleep depriver’s issues. By evicting, or at least controlling the Reactor, you will decrease reactionary behavior, which will decrease the need for the rehashing and ruminating that may keep you from falling asleep.

Master your mind and stop the Reactor from bringing stress to you and your relationships!

For the Sleep Depriver

(He’s made up of the Inner Planner, the Rehasher and the Ruminator, along with the Inner Critic and the Worrier.)

I was plagued with a very common problem: not being able to turn off my mind at bedtime. This inability prevented me from falling asleep and thus, getting a restful and restorative night’s sleep.

Here’s how I mastered my mind and evicted the Sleep Depriver and all his cronies.

  1. I started by focusing on my breathing—paying attention to the rise and fall of my belly—but that didn’t keep the thoughts out for long. (Actually, I now start with checking my at-rest mouth position to keep me from clenching.)
  2. Then I came up with replacement strategy that eliminated uncontrolled thinking—imagining the word in while breathing in and thinking the word out when breathing out. I would (and do) elongate the word to match the length of my breath.

When I catch myself thinking, I shift back to in, out. With this technique, I am still thinking, sort of, but the wheels are no longer spinning out of control. I am in control of my mind and I choose quiet.

From the first time I tried this method I started to yawn after only a few cycles and am usually asleep within ten minutes.

For really difficult nights, I add an increase of attention by holding my eyes in a looking-up position (Closed, of course!). Sometimes I try to look toward my third eye but that really hurts my eyes.

If you have trouble falling asleep because you can’t shut off your mind, I strongly recommend you try this technique. I still use it every night. You can start sleeping better tonight!

You can also use this technique any time you want to:

  • Fall back to sleep if you wake up too soon.
  • Shut down your thinking.
  • Calm your feelings.
  • Simply focus on the present moment. 

Becoming the Master of Your Mind

Your mind is a tool, and like any other tool, it can be used for constructive purposes or for destructive purposes.

You can allow your mind to be occupied by unwanted, undesirable and destructive tenants, or you can choose desirable tenants like peace, gratitude, compassion, love, and joy.

Your mind can become your best friend, your biggest supporter, and someone you can count on to be there and encourage you. The choice is yours!

Featured photo credit: Pexels via pexels.com

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