Nutrition and how you fuel your body is such a fundamental and vital component to reaching any goal in Bodybuilding, Health, and or Fitness. Your nutrition will serve as the foundation in which you build results from, without a solid and consistent foundation you can not hope to build on top of it in hopes of achieving a goal.
To elaborate, when I first started training, I was of the mindset that I could eat whatever I wanted and just train it off. My nutrition was so poor and lacking that I began to see myself become stagnant in the gym very quickly. I would put in all this time and effort, two to two and half hours a day, 5-6 days a week in the gym, lifting and doing cardio but I would never see the change I wanted in the mirror. My strength was not going up, I was lifting the same weight constantly for months, I began to run myself into the ground, feeling lethargic all the time, feeling sore all the time and even getting sick more easily.
This raised the question, “What am I doing wrong?”. Luckily at the time, I was enrolled in sports nutrition I began learning about macro and micronutrients. I quickly began to realize I was underfeeding myself. I would eat all this “food” but it was all empty calories, containing no nutrients that my body needed to build muscle, build strength, and perform like how I wanted. Through numerous trial and error, I began to incorporate more whole foods into my diet, less processed sugars, more complex and simple whole carbohydrates around training, and importantly more whole protein sources. The results after this implementation seemingly started to fly in. I was gaining good and consistent weight, 1-2 lbs a week. I began to fill out my shirts, my lifts and strength went up exponentially. A fundamental component I had overlooked which was my nutrition was the simple answer as to why I was at a standstill towards my goals and overall progression.
The answer is not always this easy and most of the time individuals seemingly overlook the simplest of aspects in bodybuilding, health, and fitness. My best advice is to start simple, before overcomplicating the process, work your way from the ground up. You can only hope to reach your goals and achieve constant progression of the support of a strong foundation and that being your nutrition.
The intensity of training is a fundamental aspect that will dictate how you progress throughout your bodybuilding, health and fitness journey. Training Intensity is a principle in which you utilize to progress towards your goals, without the proper intensity in training, results can and may be stagnant.
Training intensity for me personally was such an overlooked aspect when I first started bodybuilding. At the start, I was the individual some would refer to as “The Gym Attender”. I’ll be the first to say, when I first started training, I simply just attended the gym with no intensity whatsoever. This aspect along with my nutrition hindered me the most. I would simply just attend the gym and go through the motions of each exercise, having no focus. I would put some weight on the machines, execute the exercise with what I thought was proper form and I would just do a predetermined amount of sets and reps. Once I completed the exercise I would just move on with no further afterthought or consideration.
Fast forward, when I began to take the approach of increasing the intensity in my lifts, approaching each exercise with purpose and thought, logging my sets, reps, and weight I used, I saw myself progress exponentially more than before. Why is that? As said previously, “training intensity is a principle in which you utilize to progress towards your goals”. Once I figured out how to train with intensity, such as challenging myself to lift heavier weights each week with better and proper form or lift the same weight for more reps, I began to create the stimulus my body needed to start building muscle and strength.
The previous me thought by just going through the motions the results would happen. For some, this may be the case and can be considered “newbie gains”, more on this topic another time but for most, you need to be training with intensity as well as purpose in order to challenge yourself to create the proper stimulus to grow. Simply just going through the motions, accomplishing a predetermined amount of sets and reps for the sake of completion is not enough if you are to see constant change and progression throughout your journey. Training intensity is something that can always be worked on and even to this day as a professional I work on my intensity of training on a day to day basis to help me reach my goals.
The concept of being sore resonates with many individuals, it incites a sense of accomplishment, like you did something in the gym, it is a token you walk away with after a hard session of work put in. Let me be the first to say that soreness is not always a good thing.
Soreness amongst many has been associated with growth and muscle gains but that is not always the case. Being sore is an indicator that the cells in your muscles are damaged. It is your body's innate response telling you to not utilize that muscle group or body part because it is trying to recover. The muscle fibers and cells are damaged and to a varying degree from person to person the time it takes to recover differs.
Training while sore is not encouraged. Contrary to popular belief muscle is not built in the gym, muscle is developed and built when you recover, speed and efficiency of that recovery are dictated by many factors the main one being nutrition. Many individuals have a misconception they are building muscle when they are lifting but what you are actually doing is tearing and breaking down muscle fibers.
The process of muscle building, simply put, is the body repairing previously damaged cells with new/more cells in hopes to strengthen the area and do not create or cause further harm. The body itself is not keen to damage, exercise is a stressor on the body but through the proper implementation of appropriate training and nutrition, we can take advantage of our body's processes to build muscle, become stronger, healthier, and perform better.
Soreness is not always a good thing, why? Soreness does not always indicate growth and too much “soreness” can actually indicate too much damage. As stated previously muscle is not built when you are exercising it is built through proper nutrition and recovery outside the gym when resting or sleeping. Training to be completely sore or absolutely wrecked every time may feel gratifying at the moment is not the most efficient way to build muscle, become stronger, healthier, or reach your goals.
- Nick Koeu