What to prioritize to maximize your gains, bro.
Fitness has many different chapters and seasons where our focus can vary from losing to gaining. Oftentimes we start off wanting to lose body fat and see the scale drop, so losing is usually the first step. This is typically followed by the desire to pair that fat loss with muscle gain or as many say “toning” (my least favorite definition but we will roll with it). This is the desire to see the muscle definition once we remove the layers of fat that prevent us from seeing those strong beautiful full muscles, lol.
Now somewhere between wanting to lose body fat and wanting to see muscle, there is the process of building lean muscle mass. The hard part about putting on muscle is 1) it is hard work, and 2) it takes time… like a lot more time than losing body fat. We tend to get frustrated when it comes to building muscle as it can be a longer, slower process, and due to this many give up as we are so used to instant gratification.
Don't worry! This is not uncommon, as this is pretty standard in our society today. We are so used to quick and easy that anything that looks like a commitment or work, we tend to avoid at all costs! However, if you are able to get past the idea that results will happen quickly, and you can commit to this being a long-term goal, there are some steps you can take to aid in speeding up the process.
Here are the main things to prioritize to optimize your muscle gains…
Who doesn't love to sleep? I would be shocked if there were human beings that actually dislike a good night's sleep... But the way we lay up at night scrolling through endless TikToks or binge-watching our favorite Netflix series, you would think it is not crucial to our survival. Getting good sleep is generally important for our overall well-being, but it is ABSOLUTELY crucial for those gains baby!
When it comes to our beloved muscles, sleep enhances muscle recovery through protein synthesis and human growth hormone release. Sounds pretty important, yeah?
Turns out that sleep is crucial for strength training recovery and for muscle repair after a hardcore workout. With the added intake of dietary protein to aid in the repair and new muscle growth, while you sleep your body also produces its own muscle-building hormones, which includes the above stated: human growth hormone (aka HGH).
One of the most overlooked parts of the muscle-building process (in my humble opinion) is the importance of both PRE and POST workout meals consumed.
Pre-workout meals are important, as eating the right foods before you train can help to fuel your workouts. Between meals, your blood sugar is naturally lower and so are your energy levels — your body sources that energy from food.
A pre-workout meal will keep you fueled during and after your workout and can also help build and maintain muscle and support recovery. Pre-workouts are generally to aid in energy during your training session, post-workouts aid in muscular recovery and muscle building. The amino acids in protein are the building blocks of muscle, and true growth can’t occur without them.
Drinking water is good for you for SO MANY reasons. Better skin, helps control hunger, helps rid the body of toxins, and so on. But it also helps with recovery. Among all the other functions, the fluid helps to remove the metabolic waste a heavy workout produces. Water also plays a key role because it transports the nutrients needed for producing protein and glycogen structures, which are again, the building blocks of muscles in the body.
Alongside processed foods and simple sugars, alcohol is usually on the chopping block when it comes to a healthy strong physique. Say it ain't soooo! I know, I know. How can you part ways with the beloved? But if this is important to you, and you want to speed up the results you desire, you need to cut it (you need to cut it). While alcohol has empty calories it also interferes with the synthesis of protein, which means it can mess up the body’s muscle repair after a workout. So all the above work of fueling your body, consuming the proteins needed to rebuild, alcohol has now gotten in the way of all your hard work. So it's in your muscle's best interest to remove alcohol, for the time being.
Absolutely my least favorite thing to do, maybe of all time. I will do everything (even cardio) before I foam roll. But, these are the things that must be done in order to see the best possible results. The majority of the soreness that comes with training occurs when our muscles and fascia (the connective tissue that runs throughout the body) become “knotted.” Rolling out your muscles with a foam roller can help remove those knots as well as help prevent muscle imbalances from forming. It may not be the most enjoyable experience to partake in, but it pays off in the long run to that ultimate hulk goal.
Last but definitely not least, rest up baby. I know it's hard when we want to be “NO DAYS OFF BRO” and “I'LL SLEEP WHEN I’M DEAD” (me it’s me)... allowing your body the rest it needs is non-negotiable. Not just in a sense of growing those cute big lil muscles, but also for your physical AND mental health. When we exercise, it creates microscopic tears in our muscle tissue. Cool, right. Now, this is where rest matters... during rest, cells called fibroblasts repair it. This helps the tissue heal and grow, resulting in stronger, BIGGER muscles. If you do not allow your body to rest, you can never fully heal. If your body can't repair the muscle, you will never grow young grasshoppers.
This may seem like a lot of steps to achieve that muscular fit body, but once you get into the routine of it, it becomes second nature. If you are ready to commit to prioritizing all of the above paired with a great strength training program and a goal-specific meal plan that BAD B BOD can be yours! -- don't have one? We gotchu, click here for our OKON STRONG program.
The first step is understanding what it takes to get where you want to go, next is execution.
It is worth it in the long run!
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