by Charles Poliquin
What you do away from the gym can help you build bigger and stronger muscles. Here’s the deal: any weight training program will build muscle mass provided you work hard and strive to use more weight on basic exercises such as dips, chin-ups, squats, and bench presses. But if you’re training with purpose and still not achieving the results you want or expect, what’s holding you back may not be what you’re doing inside the gym, but outside it.
Here are six simple tips to help get you on the fast track to making serious gains.
Tip 1: Liquid first. Start the day with 40-60 grams of unsweetened, high-quality whey protein. Toss in 20 grams of glutamine, 5 grams of creatine monohydrate, and 3 grams of L-carnitine. An hour later have a solid, high protein, low carb meal such as steak and eggs.
Tip 2: Follow the clock. The biggest and strongest lifters eat at regular intervals throughout the day. Unfortunately, when life gets hectic it can be very easy to skip meals, as anyone who runs a business and has a family can attest to.
An excellent solution is to set your watch or smart phone to notify you every 2-3 hours. When the alarm sounds, that’s your cue to take a break and have another meal.
Tip 3: Embrace napping. Napping is good for grown-ups, especially those looking to grow even more. For best results a midday nap should be about 15-20 minutes – any longer and you could feel groggy or disrupt the evening sleep cycle. So nap smart, nap often — and grow!
Tip 4: Splurge weekly. Once every five days, increase your calories by 50 percent. While the bulk of the extra calories should be from healthy foods, you can also enjoy a few treats this day — just be sure to still avoid trans fats and refined sugars.
Some great choices for your high calorie day include protein pancakes with maple butter and organic oatmeal cookies. For best results schedule this day on a day off from the gym and spread the calories out over six or seven meals.
A quick and easy way to determine your caloric requirements is to take your bodyweight in pounds and multiply it by 16. So if you weigh 200 pounds, you’d need at least 3,200 calories most days and 4,800 calories on your splurge day.
Tip 5: Take BCAA’s. BCAA stands for branched chain amino acid, and as anyone is the iron game knows, amino acids are “the building blocks of muscle.”
When you go too long without eating, your body can break down lean muscle for fuel in a process called “catabolism.” Swallowing a handful of BCAA’s between meals is an effective way to prevent this costly muscle robbing process from occurring.
Simply carry a small bottle of BCAA’s with you in your briefcase or purse – when your watch or phone indicates it’s time to eat but you can’t get away for a solid meal, just get some water and take 10-20 capsules.
Tip 6: Have high-calorie snacks handy. Keep a small jar of portable, high calorie snacks such as mixed nuts and dried fruit nearby. If your feeding times get delayed, just grab a handful or two to help keep blood sugar constant.
A mixture of dried fruits (apricots, blueberries, Thompson raisins, figs, cherries, mango slices), nuts (pistachios, cashews, walnuts, dates, pecans, Brazil nuts, hazelnuts, macadamias) and seeds (pumpkin, sesame) works well, and not only provides a load of quality calories but also many valuable nutrients such as selenium, magnesium, and various antioxidants. Tossing in 10-20 BCAA capsules (as per tip #5) will further increase the anabolic (muscle-building) process.
Get Growing! Most of your mass-building success is determined by the hard work you do in the gym, but that doesn’t mean that what you do the other 23 hours of the day has no effect! Give these six non-gym tips a shot and get the scale tipping your favor.