Gay Fitness: Tips to Gaining Muscle Size
Q: What tips or advice would you give to someone wanting to gain muscle size?
A: First and foremost, focus on increasing your strength rather than your size. The best way to do this is to make compound sets the foundation of your workouts - these are exercises such as the Bench Press, Lunge and Cable Chop which work multiple muscle groups and allow you to use heavier weight.
To work the biceps, for example, you might immediately think of a single joint exercise like a Dumbbell Biceps Curl. Replace that with a compound exercise like a Seated Row and you will work not only your biceps but muscles in your upper back. The benefits: you’ll burn more calories, your overall strength will increase and your biceps will grow faster than doing the Bicep Curl alone.
A few other quick, random recommendations:
There are dozens of training methods, none of which is perfect, but the concept of progressive overload - making each set heavier than the last while decreasing the number of reps - and training to failure are universally accepted as effective in building muscle quickly. Don’t stop at eight reps on your third set of Incline Bench Presses if you can squeeze out two or three more! Work out with a gym buddy or trainer so you will have the help you need to lift heavy and achieve failure.
Limit your strength training to one hour. After that time, the body increases its production of the hormone cortisol which has the effect of blocking testosterone and wasting muscle. Guys who spend three hours in the gym are not having efficient workouts.
Vary your workouts every eight to 12 weeks and include total body workouts which will work all muscles and increase your overall strength. Incorporate new exercises. Work opposing muscle groups in the same workout (e.g., chest and back or biceps and triceps).
Incline and Decline Presses and Flyes (for your upper and lower pectorals, respectively) are staples in building your chest. To make your presses about 30 percent more effective, try replacing your standard grip with a reverse grip.
Supplementation plays an important role in building muscle. A whey protein isolate (50 to 60 grams a day) together with creatine monohydrate can do wonders to build lean muscle. Mix the whey protein with 5 grams of creatine in 250-300 liters of Gatorade and drink one of these 30 minutes before and another immediately after your weight training. My favorite pre-workout drink is Optimum Nutrition’s Amino Energy.
Add unilateral exercises (working one arm or leg at a time) to your program to even out any imbalances you may have and prevent injury. One-arm Lat Pulldowns and Unilateral Dumbbell Bench Presses are among my favorites. These exercises create instability which is fantastic to strengthen your core as your muscles are working not only to move the dumbbell but to keep you stable as well.
Proper nutrition, of course, plays an integral role in building muscle. Eat small meals five to six times a day, cut out fast food and sodas and drink plenty of water.
TIP OF THE WEEK
OMEGA-3 FATTY ACIDS OFFER MANY HEALTH BENEFITS
It’s well known that salmon is a rich source of high-quality protein and omega-3 fatty acids, a "good" fat which helps reduce the risk of heart disease and diabetes and has anti-inflammatory properties. But now research suggests omega-3 fats also play a role in weight loss as salmon and other foods high in omega-3’s increase blood levels of a hormone called leptin, which makes your belly feel full. A weekly serving of salmon will give us an adequate supply of omega-3’s. If you dislike eating salmon, supplement with Omega 3-6-9 capsules available at drug and vitamin stores. Tip: Store them in the refrigerator and you will digest them easier.
EXERCISE OF THE WEEK: DUMBBELL SPLIT SQUAT
This is a great exercise for your lower body. Holding the dumbbells at your sides, put your left foot forward and your right foot back. Lower your body until your front knee almost touches the floor. Pause. Return to starting position. Perform 10 reps then switch legs and repeat. That’s one set. Do two more sets.
Photography by TobysPhotos.com.