A Common Concern
I have written about the specific topic of how to build muscle tone several times in my Newsletters as it has always been a very common concern – especially amongst women.
The most frequently asked questions regarding this issue are: “I would like to increase my lean muscle but I am afraid that if I use weights I will look like the body builders in the muscle magazines etc” or “I have recently begun a weight program and I am finding that I am bulking up. How do I achieve muscle tone without getting huge?”
You Need to Train for Big Muscles to Get Big Muscles
Body Building for very large muscles is only achieved by training in a specific manner to reach those goals – which can take years to reach this stage of muscle development. I personally love the physique of a body builder but it doesn’t necessarily mean that I want my muscles as big as that. However I can appreciate the sheer hard work that goes into that type of training. I have often used the techniques of advanced body building myself to gain muscle size when wanting to create a more muscular look without gaining too much size or looking masculine.
What You Eat will Encourage You to Bulk Up
One thing you need to watch out for when beginning your weight training program is what you eat. Why? Because what you eat effects the way your body reacts to your training program. Certain foods and the amount of those foods eaten can cause you to bulk up – when your actual plan or goal was to become leaner.
How Eating Affects Your Size and Shape when Partaking in a Weight Training Program
Ok. Reviewing your eating program is one of the most important things for you to do when starting your exercise program. When most people start training they find that they become very hungry, because they are expending more energy, which then leads them to eat more. The most common foods people reach out for when they are super hungry is really fatty foods or high sugar foods, because they’re convenient and “fulfil the craving” that’s being experienced. These foods, as much as they may seem to taste great, won’t help your progress if you’re training to build muscle tone while also keeping your body fat at bay.
Overeating to Compensate for Exercise
If you begin to fill the hunger gap with junk food, as mentioned above, you need to be training to burn off that type of food intake, which would often be more in the line of an elite athlete’s training program. This means that any excess calories you consume, and are not burning off, will most likely “store”, making it harder for your body to burn off stored fat and support healthy lean muscle growth. Besides, you and I both know that your body probably isn’t clapping it’s hands at the thought of you topping it up with bags of chips as a source of fuel for energy.
Putting On Weight when Your Starting Your New Exercise Program
It’s not uncommon for folk when they start exercising to put on a kilo or so. This is normally due to muscle growth. Even just a small amount of resistance training can cause this, especially if you haven’t trained in a while. But don’t worry because this is only weight not your measurements. Muscle is denser than fat so you may have already started losing some body fat, but because you’ve stimulated muscle growth there’s been a small gain in weight.
Don’t forget about water weight! The more muscle you have and the fitter you are the more water you’ll store. This is GREAT NEWS and means your body is reacting to your new training program. If you are doing the right thing by your program you will soon be seeing some fantastic changes in your body shape. So be persistent and try not get frustrated.
As you’ve probably realised, people who are very lean or very fit to look like they actually weigh less than what they really do. Ignore the scales and monitor your progress via taking your measurements, using goal clothing and fat calipers – and give the scales the flick for a while.
It is Easy to Get Confused when Trying to Choose What Food Types will Help Your Training Goals
Choosing what we should eat can be baffling. Often we tend to place it in the too hard basket and decide to start “tomorrow” on our new eating program. Honestly, once you get started you will be so impressed with yourself for making the effort to learn and educate your self further on this matter. Learning what is right for you and your body type will offer you the freedom to start experimenting with new recipes and to start seeing new results from your eating program.
Steps to Prevent You from Bulking Up
– Consume Lower in GI foods
– Reduce your bad fat intake. Make sure you include healthy fats in your eating plan. For example: EFA’s.. flaxseed oil, salmon etc
– Cut back on the “white” Carbs – breads, cereals, potato, pasta and rice etc opting for the brown ones instead eg.. multi-grain bread, sweet potato etc.
– Make sure you are performing 3-4 cardio sessions per week.
– Don’t forget about your weight training / resistance program. If you want to start training for larger muscles then user heavier weights with lower repetitions. And at the opposite end of the scale use lighter weights with more repetitions to help build muscle tone.
– Use variety in your cardio sessions and your weight training.
– Reduce your alcohol consumption.
– Make sure you take one day off per week from training and allow yourself a “cheat” meal once a week
– Increase your Lean Protein intake eg… fish, chicken breasts (skin removed / fat cut off), low fat cottage cheese, egg whites, lean red meats, protein shakes.
– Eat more veggies and salads, rather than filling up on “heavy” carbohydrates.
– Get your workout (weight/ resistance program and cardio workout) upgraded every 8-12 weeks , no longer.
So unless you’re actually training to pack on heaps of size you won’t turn into the incredible hulk. Weight / resistance training and exercise in general not only gives us the opportunity to change our body but can also increase our fitness level, assist in rehabilitation, improve our self esteem and boost our overall well-being. Please don’t be scared to include it in your health and fitness regime. Choosing the right program for you is important so you can benefit and enjoy your workouts plus feel confident that you are on the right track to your health and fitness goals. And always remember to check with your doctor before starting any new eating or exercise program.
Happy training folks,
Yours in fun, health and fitness
© Mandy Gibbons
Virtual Fitness Trainer
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