Guest Post By Gabriel Zhañay
A funny thing happens when you look in the mirror these days, but it’s not “funny-funny.” More like “funny-weird.” Or even “funny-yuck!”
You don’t like what you see. You were an athlete back in the day and still get to the gym more than most. But those “bro-talk” posts and Instagram trainers with bigger biceps than brains or fitness knowledge just annoy you.
So stop scrolling and start taking action. Here are the three un-secret secrets to craft your best physique ever.
Not So Secret #1: Eat More Protein
When I first walked into Planet Fitness, my goal was to pack on 20 pounds of lean muscle. So I started going to the gym each morning, training religously for two hours.
Afterward, I would head to my job at a local pizzeria restaurant and work for 12 hours. Guess what? I ate a lot. Yet somehow I thought this was good because…protein. Pizza had protein, right? I ended up putting on 25 pounds.
Eating pizza and cannolis all day does not mean you’re eating more protein. Pretty obvious, right?
But this is just one example of how deluded and far away from achieving your goals you can be. Good intentions and hard work are not enough.
If you’re strength training, aim for 1.6-1.8 g/kg of protein per body mass each day.
The amino acids in dietary protein sources are the building blocks of muscle tissue. That’s what makes protein so important.
Amino acids are required for anabolic (muscle-building) signaling pathways to carry out protein synthesis (muscle growth.)
Your body can’t make these amino acids by itself. That’s why obtaining them from your food is crucial. If you’re experiencing a dietary shortage in even one of these amino acids, it’s enough to impair your muscle development.
You build muscle by being in a positive nitrogen balance.
When you’re in a positive nitrogen balance, your body is creating new proteins faster than it’s breaking them down.
When your body is in a negative balance, that means that it’s breaking down proteins at a greater rate than it’s synthesizing them.
Stick to a protein-rich diet. If your protein intake is unable to make up what for you’re expending, your cellular function and muscle development will suffer. Only by consuming enough protein, will you be able to promote anabolism (muscle growth) and ignite lean muscle development.
Don’t make my mistake and think you’re getting enough protein by eating pizzas and pasta.
Your Action Steps:
- Track your protein intake.
- Aim for a gram of protein per bodyweight. For example, if you weigh 200 lbs, ideally you should have 200 grams of protein each day. Maximize your results by using science-backed research to craft your best physique ever.
- Create a habit to track your protein intake each day. This is how you can visibly see the changes to your lean muscular development.
Not So Secret #2: Recover Properly
One of the biggest mistakes one of my clients made was not drinking his post-workout shake. Jonathan would come in and train hard with me for 60 minutes, put in the work, yet he didn’t take his recovery seriously. He was always forgetting to drink his post-workout shake.
After weeks of training, he wasn’t gaining the lean hard muscle he desperately craved.
You know it’s important, yet how often do you find yourself forgetting to drink your protein shakes? Your recovery is a key opportunity to maximize performance.
Ideally, you want to aim for high glycemic carbs and protein 30-45 minutes after each session.
Why is this important?
Because this is the key window when your body is in an anabolic state (buildup) and needs the amino acids and glucose to repair itself (with protein and carbs.)
Since your body has used a lot of its stored fuels (glycogen and amino acids) while sustaining damage to its muscle fibers, this is prime time for anabolism.
By consuming the proper ratio of nutrients during this timeframe, you’ll kickstart the rebuilding process of damaged tissues and energy reserves.
The primary benefits of post-workout recovery will be improvements in both, your body composition and exercise performance.
The main goal after you train is to refuel your glycogen stores. Since you use glucose as your main form of energy, your muscles and liver are literally starving for carbohydrates.
Two important things happen.
- Glycogen transporters (GLUT-4) which are responsible for bringing glucose into your muscle cells become much more active. Because of this, your body stimulates the activity of glycogen synthase, which is the principal enzyme responsible for glycogen storage.
- The result of these factors means that you’re able to rapidly absorb glucose which means your glycogen energy stores are filled up quickly.
Consume a high-quality protein powder. What this does is allow you to supply sufficient protein for your damaged tissues. Since it’s repair time, bathing your muscles with the correct amount of amino acids should be the number one thing on your mind.
When you consume amino acids after you train, protein synthesis is increased 3x. Your body is primed to blast off fat and start rebuilding lean muscle, making you stronger than you were last time.
Since your muscles are fired up for anabolism, virtually all the protein you consume will be used for rebuilding. Remember, if your protein intake isn’t sufficient then your recovery will be shortchanged and your results will be compromised.
Your Action Steps:
- After you train, consume a drink with high-glycemic carbohydrates (cranberry or grape juice work great) and high-quality protein powder. Aim for approximately 0.5 gram of carbs per pound of body weight and 0.25 gram of protein per pound of bodyweight.
- Make this into a habit. You can create a simple reminder on your phone using Google Calendar or iPhone Calendar. Set it as a recurring reminder after each time you train. For example, if you train Monday, Wednesday, and Fridays at 6:00 am, create a reminder at 7:30 am to drink your post-workout shake.
Not So Secret #3: Use Compound Movements
You’re putting in hard work going to the gym to train each week. Unfortunately, one of the biggest problems that I see over and over again is the use of bodybuilding-style workouts.
Monday: Chest day
But training your muscles in isolation like bodybuilders is an inefficient way to build up a powerful physique.
If you want to look like an athlete, then you have to train like an athlete.
Here’s why compound movements are more effective than isolation workouts.
- You burn more calories compared to isolated exercises. The more muscle mass that you engage in your workouts, the more calories you’ll burn. So if you’re doing a barbell squat, the number of calories that you’ll burn will always be superior the amount that you burn from doing isolated hammer curls.
- The coordination between your muscle groups improves. If you sit behind a desk for 8-12 hours a day, 5 days a week, many of your muscle groups start to begin deactivating. They naturally begin to atrophy. So when you hit the gym the last thing you need is more sitting on a machine. You need to improve your intramuscular coordination, the function and timing of muscle groups around a joint, by using total-body compound movements. Good examples would be squats, lunges, and step-ups. Challenge yourself in the three different planes of motion.
Your Action Steps:
Pick full body compound movements like squats, lunges, push-ups, and start to make these the bread and butter of your workouts. Aim for sets of 2-3 and 10-12 repetitions while slowly progressing your training variables each week.
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About The Author
Gabriel Zhañay is a High-Performance Coach who works with busy high achievers who want to dominate their career by crafting their best physiques ever. He likes lifting heavy, laughing loudly, and spending time with his beautiful partner Anna. His website is gabrielzhanay.com