Yes you read the title right, I am going to tell you how to get bigger muscles by … (drum roll please) walking! Heck I am going to tell you how to get a ripped body and six pack abs by…not some magic supplement (that only costs $69.95)…or some mysterious just found “miracle berry” from central South America…but by something that is free and you can do every day…walking. Read below and you will see what I mean.
Oh and to all the ladies out there, don’t skip over this article…as these rules apply to you also for getting that sleek “toned” look you are going for (don’t worry about “bulking up”, it won’t happen)
I had a client I was consulting with recently who wanted to gain some more lean muscle (Yes I know all muscle is “lean”…but many “claim” to put on muscle, when it’s really more fat and water retention).
He worked out long and hard several times a week, did intervals after the workout and also other activity on the side trying to stay “fit”. But he wasn’t making any progress in putting on real muscle and leaning out at the same time.
I told him that the problem was “him”. He was getting in the way of “allowing” his body to build muscle and burn fat by not following the basic rules:
So instead of only trying to force down 5000 calories a day trying to gain muscle (and most people usually just end up fat and bulky looking), why not just do the simple things right in the first place?
We go workout to “hopefully” challenge our muscles to grow bigger. This involves enough stimulation through resistance/volume to signal muscle growth by the body. Included will be the signal of muscle building hormones such as Testosterone. We can also signal GH which is key in helping us recover and burn fat.
What happens when we overtrain? Well how about our Testosterone and GH levels can drop. How are we supposed to build muscle if those are in the gutter? Hit the weights some more? I think not.
As seen in this past article, the study done on people using Testosterone and not working out, vs people working out and not using Testosterone…ended up with the people using Test with no workouts gaining MORE muscle than those just working out! So hormones make the difference!
Workouts should be geared to have enough stimulus for hormonal muscle growth, without going overboard and suppressing them. As said once by (edit) Lee Haney, “Stimulate and don’t annihilate” when you go workout. Seems like good advice to me.
So we have gone to the gym to use some weights, stimulated our muscles and now what? Well as soon as you leave the gym you are now in “recovery” mode. This is where the real magic happens for building muscle (or is supposed to).
What you do for the rest of the day, night and into tomorrow…will determine if you are really going to build muscle. Simple enough right?
So why do so many people go back to the gym, workout the same muscles, go do some other intense cardio workout all in the name of being “fit”? More is not better in this case and is probably the reason that so many fail to see any real results year after year.
My advice to any average client that comes to me wanting more muscle is usually these simple recommendations (because I know what 95%+ of people’s problem is)
Anything else is NOT allowed. Unless you are some professional athlete who needs to train or go to practice, stop doing the same things over and over again when they were not getting any results in the first place! Your idea of being “fit” is probably making you worse off.
Continuing down that same road is just what we call “insanity”…doing the same things and expecting different results.
The biggest mistake I see with anyone is the inability to “stop” doing more and more fitness. Cardio/jogging junkies, gym addicts and the likes. This is also the case with the cardio after a workout.
We have all seen the studies about intervals and how they increase fat burning (or really how they increase the “fat releasing” hormones such as GH). But slapping on a 30min interval session after 30-40 minutes of intense lifting is not going to work out.
That additional cardio is not going to give you a bigger GH boost (more than what you already got from in the initial workout if intense enough) and will just suppress Testosterone levels from the workout (who needs those to build muscle right? Ummm…You do!).
If you workout the “right” way in the first place…you will get enough GH and Test from the workout. With an elevated GH you now have your “fat releasing” hormones telling the fat cells to empty out. So you don’t need more sprints…you just need a slow and steady pace to burn a bit of extra fat (without compromising your Test or muscle building).
Cortisol…we all know this hormone. Many call it a “stress” hormone but it is really a blood sugar hormone at heart. It readies your body for “fight or flight” by accessing more glucose from your liver and other sources…like breaking down muscle for amino acids.
This is not something we want elevated after a workout in which we have already broken down muscle and want to go into “repair mode”. So doing some intense cardio that the body will see as a stress and need for more blood sugar, is not a smart idea.
Compiling workouts and intense cardio back to back will only elevate your cortisol levels and lead to no real muscle gains in the long run.
Most that have a high cortisol lifestyle also tend to lose muscle, gain fat (skinny fat look), look more bloated (lack of definition) and have more fat in the stubborn areas such as the stomach and hips. I see this problem with many cardio/jogger addicts.
Compare that to sprinters who workout by doing intense sprints (short…like 60-100meters) with plenty of rest in between and lots of walking around (or other short sprint athletes like pole vaulters as seen up top). They don’t jog. They do short explosions to boost the right hormones and then don’t compromise them with additional stress. This is why when you look at most they are ripped and have more muscle than say your average distance runner.
Most people don’t realize the importance of the adrenal glands until they are fatigued and things start going wrong. The adrenals are where you produce cortisol. While cortisol is a natural hormone (as you need it to get your butt awake in the morning), it can also be abused. When cortisol is released too much and too often (excess stress such as intense exercise, mental stress, caffeine), you are going to start wearing out your adrenals.
Adrenals are also responsible for producing DHEA, a precursor to testosterone (and estrogen). So while you are running around at full tilt all the time, you are killing the organ that will help you build muscle.
Here are some warning signs that you may be on the road to bigger issues. Adrenal fatigue is just the first bad step…it can be turned around, or you can keep going down that road to full adrenal exhaustion…your choice.
- excessive fatigue and exhaustion
- non-refreshing sleep (you get sufficient hours of sleep, but wake fatigued)
- overwhelmed by or unable to cope with stressors
- feeling rundown or overwhelmed
- craving salty and sweet foods
- you feel most energetic in the evening
- a feeling of not being restored after a full night’s sleep or having sleep disturbances
- low stamina, slow to recover from exercise
- slow to recover from injury, illness or stress
- difficulty concentrating, brain fog
- poor digestion
- low immune function
- food or environmental allergies
- premenstrual syndrome or difficulties that develop during menopause
- consistent low blood pressure
- extreme sensitivity to cold
If any of this sounds familiar above…then it may be time to rethink your lifestyle approach to trying to be “fit”.
Going “balls to the wall” will leave you burned out, overtrained, injured and probably gaining more fat if you give up altogether.
If you want success in the long run whether it be with gaining muscle or losing weight (or both at the same time) you need to take it slow and steady. This means smart workouts, plenty of recovery, proper eating, plenty of rest and a lifestyle activity level that won’t overstress your body.
This biggest mistake people make nowadays is doing too much. More is not going to be better, especially if you are doing it with too much intensity and too often. Your body just doesn’t work that way and your hormones won’t respond optimally.
So while you can still go for an occasional run or bike ride, go play some sports…in general, along with lifting/resistance training, the smartest thing you can do…is alot of walking. Not only will this keep your stress hormones down from exercise, but also from a mental level as well.
Nothing calms the soul like a slow walk outside in nature (leave the Ipod at home, unless you want to listen to some relaxing music). Walking will help the body heal, recover from exercise, burn extra fat (with elevated GH levels from working out), keep inflammation under control and lead to a long and healthy life.