Trying to Gain Muscle Mass?

Let me first say, I am by no means a fitness expert. I just speak from 14 years worth of experience which includes trial & error. For years I have been trying to gain weight…now the healthy way. I have always been small and ate any and everything I wanted only to find myself constantly losing weight or not gaining any. One would ask, “Why in the world would a woman want to gain weight?” I hear it often. But it was something I wanted for me, not concerned what anyone else thought. I didn’t want to be “thick” but to have a little more muscle mass while maintaining a certain level of fitness. After having 2 children, losing 55 lbs in 2 months was nothing. Gaining 20lbs in 2 months and keeping it on definitely was.

Not until recently did I make the decision to change my eating habits. I soon figured out that if I cut out the sodas, junk food, cakes, ice cream and sweet tea everyday, I would actually gain some weight. Healthy weight at that. Don’t get me wrong, I had to start off small so I wouldn’t fall off the road towards my goal. I first stopped drinking sodas and eating cakes/ snack cakes everyday. Ice cream is my favorite…which was the last to get cut out around June of last year (although I mix it in my shakes from time to time for the added calories). I switched out white bread for wheat bread, white rice for brown rice, and pasta for whole grain pasta (this took some time to get used to). I am from the South but I even switched out the sweet tea for herbal tea w/ honey. I started taking more effort when it came to reading labels. It’s funny how the things we thought were healthy really aren’t that healthy for us. For example: read the ingredients on the label of peanut butter versus ‘Natural” peanut butter…one has 4 simple ingredients versus the other.

I say all that to say this…If you eat a lot like I did…you may not be eating all of the right things. And I always thought I was eating enough…not true. Just to see how much I was eating, I downloaded an app called MyFitnessPal. This is one of the best apps I have! It tracks everything! Every brand of food or drink is stored in this app or you can scan the barcode to get accurate nutritional facts and serving sizes. You can also add your workouts in which the calories are subtracted from your daily intake once submitted and informs you of how far away you are from your daily calorie intake goal. Once you complete your diary for the day, it tells you how much you will weigh in 3-5 weeks if you continue to eat as you did that day. This gave me a wakeup call to how much I was actually consuming and that I was taking in way too much sodium. This app was so accurate and helped me plan out my meals to reach my daily calorie intake goal of 3500. In November of 2012 I weighed 129lbs with 27% body fat. By February of 2013 I was weighing in at 148lbs with 19% body fat. So it works if you apply yourself and do just a little extra work. Don’t skip meals!

I like to take the natural route towards fitness, but I needed help with this. Never got the guts to try any true pre-workouts but instead I shopped around and fell in love with…Muscle Juice. Tastes great and mixes well…not like your traditional powdered drinks…I mix mine with fruit and ice. It packs more than 1000 calories per serving along with 56 grams of muscle building protein. You can drink this for breakfast but I usually drink this after I eat so I don’t get full and can’t eat. Modern BCAA+ and Alphamine taken during the day, before and after your workouts are great as well. You can go hard while burning fat without worrying about losing that muscle mass! Drink plenty of water whether you are taking supplements or not.

Of course if you are eating more than the recommended daily caloric intake and taking a weight gainer, you need to exercise. This doesn’t mean run 4-6 miles a day. This will defeat the purpose. You can still run distance…more like 4-6 once or twice a week. And if you enjoy running on a treadmill do not exceed 15 minutes, because any running you do after this will start to burn fat. Sprinting helps build those muscles, giving them a more defined look. In the Army, we have a Physical Training Exercise called 60:120s. During the work interval, you sprint for 60 seconds. During the recovery interval, you walk for 120 seconds. (Recommended performed on a road or track.) This is great for getting in some High Intensity Interval Training. You can get in a more intense run in maybe less than half the time. As far as weights are concerned, you have to lift HEAVY! Work your way up to the heavy stuff…but if you want to get bigger you have to lift bigger.

This may all sound like a lot…and it is at first. After 2 or 3 weeks of a routine and prepping your meals on Sunday for the whole week, you will be 20lbs heavier in no time. Now all you have to do it maintain!

Onyx Contributor:  Phylicia Martinez
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