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10 Workout Hacks for Building Muscle

10 Workout Hacks for Building Muscle

    One of the best aspects of your daily routine to apply a life hack to are your personal fitness goals. This is something we’ve covered in past posts, but today we’d like to expand the list.

    By carefully selecting the time of your workout, the combination of techniques, and the proper post-workout snacks, you can maximize your workout to build muscle. Here are the essential tips you need to know.

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    1. Work out at the right time of day

    The time of day when you choose to work out can make all the difference when it comes to working out to your maximum potential. According to Dr. Stuart McGill, an expert in back pain, you should avoid working out first thing in the morning. This is because the discs between your vertebrae fill with fluid during your sleep, making you more susceptible to injury in the morning.

    2. Weights before cardio

    According to the minds behind Dumb Little Man, “trainers, serious athletes and bodybuilders do weights first: this way, your heart rate goes up and when you lift, your body is in more of a fat burning mode. Doing the opposite means that your muscles are already tired by the time you get to weight-training.”

    3. Eat frequently (and take in more calories)

    Keep your energy up and give your body plenty of fuel for building muscles by eating small meals every three hours or so. Make sure to eat plenty of protein, ideally the equivalent amount of protein in grams as your current body weight in pounds. For example, a 150-pound man would aim to take in 150 g of protein per day.

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    Diet and Fitness Expert Dr. Melina Jampolis adds, “Your body can build at most about a half-pound of muscle each week, so if you eat too many extra calories trying to build more muscle, you will gain fat, too. I would suggest consuming an extra 250 to 500 calories per day.”

    4. Eat a snack immediately after your workout

    According to Nancy Clark, M.S., R.D., senior sports nutritionist at Healthworks Fitness Center in Chestnut Hill, Massachusetts, protein-heavy snacks should be eaten within 15 minutes of wrapping up your exercise routine. “It might optimize the healing of the tiny muscle injuries that happen [normally] while people exercise,” she says. “Also, protein is satiating”…and that means you won’t be tempted by junk food later on.

    Men’s Health also agrees with the need for protein, but argues that it needs to be balanced with carbs as well. “Although you might think that the carbs will slow weight loss, the opposite can be true. Carbs plus protein helps build muscle (especially if you eat the combo just before and after exercise), and that can indirectly enhance fat loss, because muscle is metabolically active tissue that helps burn more calories around the clock.”

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    5. Stay hydrated

    The last thing you need complicating your workout is a cramp or fatigue, so drinking water before, during, and after your workout for best results.

    6. Never skip the warm up (or the cool down)

    Stretching prevents muscle strain, gets your blood pumping, and can help lower cholesterol when done as part of a yoga or pilates routine. Muscles also need to realign themselves after an intensive workout, which a few minutes of stretching can help to accomplish.

    7. Combine compound and isolation movements

    While isolating certain muscles is important, you need to alternate compound motions as well, which will target multiple muscle groups at once. Compound workouts are good for beginners and for toning certain parts of the body.

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    However, fitness expert Mark McManus argues that compound exercises do have a downside. “ If one muscle within the group being worked is quite weak, it will be responsible for the termination of the set before the other muscles obtain the requisite intensity to stimulate growth. With compound movements, you’re only as strong as your weakest link. Take the lat pulldown for example:  the weaker biceps and forearms will fatigue before the more powerful lats do, meaning you didn’t thoroughly stimulate the body part you intended to when you selected this exercise!”

    8. Gradually increase your weights

    Increase the weight you’re lifting on each exercise by 5 percent each week. If you bench-pressed 100 pounds this week, for example, then next week you should try doing 105 pounds. This gradual increase will yield the best muscle building results without overly straining your body.

    9. Budget the correct amount of time for your workout

    The team at Muscle Hack argues that timing is of the essence when planning your workout. “You shouldn’t train for much longer than an hour at any one time,” they say. “At the end of the day, if you’re not willing to spend an hour in the gym, you haven’t got the right mindset for success.”

    10. Get narcissistic

    By which we mean, of course, to do all your weight lifting in front of a mirror. That way, you can correct your posture and make sure you are fully extending your muscles. Correct form means means maximized results.

    What tips can you share to help build lean muscle? Tell us in the comments below, follow us on Twitter, or take the conversation over to Facebook.

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    Tucker Cummings

    Writer and social media professional sharing productivity tips on Lifehack.

    The Pomodoro Technique: Is It Right for You to Boost Productivity? The Productivity Paradox: What Is It And How Can We Move Beyond It? How to Diagnose the “Phantom Cursor” Issue on Your Mac Extreme Minimalism: Andrew Hyde and the 15-Item Lifestyle 6 Easy Tips for Living with 100 Items or Less

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    Last Updated on September 16, 2019

    How to Stop Procrastinating: 11 Practical Ways for Procrastinators

    How to Stop Procrastinating: 11 Practical Ways for Procrastinators

    You have a deadline looming. However, instead of doing your work, you are fiddling with miscellaneous things like checking email, social media, watching videos, surfing blogs and forums. You know you should be working, but you just don’t feel like doing anything.

    We are all familiar with the procrastination phenomenon. When we procrastinate, we squander away our free time and put off important tasks we should be doing them till it’s too late. And when it is indeed too late, we panic and wish we got started earlier.

    The chronic procrastinators I know have spent years of their life looped in this cycle. Delaying, putting off things, slacking, hiding from work, facing work only when it’s unavoidable, then repeating this loop all over again. It’s a bad habit that eats us away and prevents us from achieving greater results in life.

    Don’t let procrastination take over your life. Here, I will share my personal steps on how to stop procrastinating. These 11 steps will definitely apply to you too:

    1. Break Your Work into Little Steps

    Part of the reason why we procrastinate is because subconsciously, we find the work too overwhelming for us. Break it down into little parts, then focus on one part at the time. If you still procrastinate on the task after breaking it down, then break it down even further. Soon, your task will be so simple that you will be thinking “gee, this is so simple that I might as well just do it now!”.

    For example, I’m currently writing a new book (on How to achieve anything in life). Book writing at its full scale is an enormous project and can be overwhelming. However, when I break it down into phases such as –

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    • (1) Research
    • (2) Deciding the topic
    • (3) Creating the outline
    • (4) Drafting the content
    • (5) Writing Chapters #1 to #10,
    • (6) Revision
    • (7) etc.

    Suddenly it seems very manageable. What I do then is to focus on the immediate phase and get it done to my best ability, without thinking about the other phases. When it’s done, I move on to the next.

    2. Change Your Environment

    Different environments have different impact on our productivity. Look at your work desk and your room. Do they make you want to work or do they make you want to snuggle and sleep? If it’s the latter, you should look into changing your workspace.

    One thing to note is that an environment that makes us feel inspired before may lose its effect after a period of time. If that’s the case, then it’s time to change things around. Refer to Steps #2 and #3 of 13 Strategies To Jumpstart Your Productivity, which talks about revamping your environment and workspace.

    3. Create a Detailed Timeline with Specific Deadlines

    Having just 1 deadline for your work is like an invitation to procrastinate. That’s because we get the impression that we have time and keep pushing everything back, until it’s too late.

    Break down your project (see tip #1), then create an overall timeline with specific deadlines for each small task. This way, you know you have to finish each task by a certain date. Your timelines must be robust, too – i.e. if you don’t finish this by today, it’s going to jeopardize everything else you have planned after that. This way it creates the urgency to act.

    My goals are broken down into monthly, weekly, right down to the daily task lists, and the list is a call to action that I must accomplish this by the specified date, else my goals will be put off.

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    Here’re more tips on setting deadlines: 22 Tips for Effective Deadlines

    4. Eliminate Your Procrastination Pit-Stops

    If you are procrastinating a little too much, maybe that’s because you make it easy to procrastinate.

    Identify your browser bookmarks that take up a lot of your time and shift them into a separate folder that is less accessible. Disable the automatic notification option in your email client. Get rid of the distractions around you.

    I know some people will out of the way and delete or deactivate their facebook accounts. I think it’s a little drastic and extreme as addressing procrastination is more about being conscious of our actions than counteracting via self-binding methods, but if you feel that’s what’s needed, go for it.

    5. Hang out with People Who Inspire You to Take Action

    I’m pretty sure if you spend just 10 minutes talking to Steve Jobs or Bill Gates, you’ll be more inspired to act than if you spent the 10 minutes doing nothing. The people we are with influence our behaviors. Of course spending time with Steve Jobs or Bill Gates every day is probably not a feasible method, but the principle applies — The Hidden Power of Every Single Person Around You

    Identify the people, friends or colleagues who trigger you – most likely the go-getters and hard workers – and hang out with them more often. Soon you will inculcate their drive and spirit too.

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    As a personal development blogger, I “hang out” with inspiring personal development experts by reading their blogs and corresponding with them regularly via email and social media. It’s communication via new media and it works all the same.

    6. Get a Buddy

    Having a companion makes the whole process much more fun. Ideally, your buddy should be someone who has his/her own set of goals. Both of you will hold each other accountable to your goals and plans. While it’s not necessary for both of you to have the same goals, it’ll be even better if that’s the case, so you can learn from each other.

    I have a good friend whom I talk to regularly, and we always ask each other about our goals and progress in achieving those goals. Needless to say, it spurs us to keep taking action.

    7. Tell Others About Your Goals

    This serves the same function as #6, on a larger scale. Tell all your friends, colleagues, acquaintances and family about your projects. Now whenever you see them, they are bound to ask you about your status on those projects.

    For example, sometimes I announce my projects on The Personal Excellence Blog, Twitter and Facebook, and my readers will ask me about them on an ongoing basis. It’s a great way to keep myself accountable to my plans.

    8. Seek out Someone Who Has Already Achieved the Outcome

    What is it you want to accomplish here, and who are the people who have accomplished this already? Go seek them out and connect with them. Seeing living proof that your goals are very well achievable if you take action is one of the best triggers for action.

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    9. Re-Clarify Your Goals

    If you have been procrastinating for an extended period of time, it might reflect a misalignment between what you want and what you are currently doing. Often times, we outgrow our goals as we discover more about ourselves, but we don’t change our goals to reflect that.

    Get away from your work (a short vacation will be good, else just a weekend break or staycation will do too) and take some time to regroup yourself. What exactly do you want to achieve? What should you do to get there? What are the steps to take? Does your current work align with that? If not, what can you do about it?

    10. Stop Over-Complicating Things

    Are you waiting for a perfect time to do this? That maybe now is not the best time because of X, Y, Z reasons? Ditch that thought because there’s never a perfect time. If you keep waiting for one, you are never going to accomplish anything.

    Perfectionism is one of the biggest reasons for procrastination. Read more about why perfectionist tendencies can be a bane than a boon: Why Being A Perfectionist May Not Be So Perfect.

    11. Get a Grip and Just Do It

    At the end, it boils down to taking action. You can do all the strategizing, planning and hypothesizing, but if you don’t take action, nothing’s going to happen. Occasionally, I get readers and clients who keep complaining about their situations but they still refuse to take action at the end of the day.

    Reality check:

    I have never heard anyone procrastinate their way to success before and I doubt it’s going to change in the near future.  Whatever it is you are procrastinating on, if you want to get it done, you need to get a grip on yourself and do it.

    More About Procrastination

    Featured photo credit: Malvestida Magazine via unsplash.com

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