Five top tips for winter gains
Posted on 11th December 2019 at 18:45
Trying to gain muscle this winter? Then this blog is for you.
Winter is a great time to focus on muscle gain.
Thick jumpers and coats are a staple and most of us aren’t worried about getting our tops off anytime soon.
Also with Christmas sandwiched right in the middle of the colder months there is defiantly more calories on the menu which isn’t a bad thing at all when muscle gain is the goal.
In this blog I want to share with you five top tips that will help you have a productive winter of gaining muscle.
People often feel losing body fat is hard and gaining muscle is easy. The reality is that for most people it’s the complete opposite.
Muscle mass is an expensive equity for your body and we aren’t all blessed with genetics that make us gain muscle just by looking at a dumbbell.
I am sure you have a friend who is that annoying person that can just gain muscle at an alarming rate when they take training seriously.
Utilise these five tips below and you should soon be the one who is bursting out of their tee-shirts.
A moderate calorie surplus
Ensuring you are in a calorie surplus is a must if you want to make the most of your gaining phase. The extra calories will aid your energy for hard training sessions and allow you to recover in between workouts so you can push your training volume over the coming months. A calorie surplus will also ensure that more of the protein you consume in your diet is used solely for muscle building, rather than being potentially used as an energy source which can happen when you diet.
However it is important that you keep your calorie surplus moderate and don’t see your gaining phase as an excuse to eat everything in sight and put on excess body fat. I would advise you start with a 150-300 calorie surplus and then see how fast your bodyweight climbs. Remember when gaining you want to keep fat gain as minimal as possible so just take it easy with your food intake. Excess fat gain will just require you to diet longer in the future and longer diets generally correlate to more muscle mass being lost. Ideally a 1% increase per month in bodyweight is a pretty good target to aim for to get body fat gain in check.
Protein wise I would shoot for around 2.0-2.5g per KG of BW, around 50% of your total calories from carbs and let fat take up the rest.
To gain more muscle mass we need to create a stimulus that stresses our bodies and forces it to adapt. Adapting by building more muscle fibres while improving movement efficiency and getting stronger. However you also need to keep consistently stressing the body, which in the weights room means lifting more load over more sets and reps.
This is progressive overload. The concept of doing more to get more. You need to give your body a reason to build more muscle mass.
Below are some of the ways you can progressively overload in your training.
1. Increase load
2. Increase sets
3. Increase reps
4. Increase time under tension
5. Increase training session frequency
6. Increase exercise frequency
7. Increase and add intensifiers (bands chains, drop sets etc.)
You can see from the above there is no one best way to achieve progressive overload. However ensuring your training is set up in a way that will allow this is essential to your muscle building goals. Weeks where you look to build load, weeks where you build reps or sets and then weeks where you de-load intensity will all aid your goals. If you want to learn more about how to set your training up for muscle gain make sure you download my FREE muscle building guide. HIT THS LINK to get your copy.
Focus on compound movements
For me this is a big thing you need to focus on. Compound movements like your bench press, back squat, deadlifts and bent over rows are going to be very effective in helping you gain muscle. They activate large muscle groups and also use secondary muscles to assist the movement so offer a good bang for your buck.
However one other good reason to focus on these is so you can stay motivated. When you first start trying to gain muscle it can be easy to be super pumped and excited but 6 weeks later when your bodyweight is trickling up and your training is hard it can be easy to lose focus. But if you keep focussed on your compounds and seeing good strength gain you will stand a much better chance of staying motivated and being consistent.
Other movements like lateral raises and bicep curls will be harder to see your loads go up but your big compounds should see some good increments and this can be motivating to see.
Don’t waste your money on crap supplements
This is more of a what not to do tip. However I see so many people throw money down the drain on supplements that aren’t needed. Often these come recommended from your favourite youtuber who funnily enough has an invested interest in the supplements he’s peddling.
Expensive pre workouts or intra workout shakes are just not needed for 99% of us. If you feel you need a pre workout pick me up get a banana down you and two caffeine tablets. Ingredients in pre workouts like beta alanine and citrulline mallate are just not needed for most people as people don’t train for long enough in a set to see any real benefit from these products. Just because they give you a tingly feeling before you train doesn’t mean they are going to send your session intensity through the roof.
BCAA’s are quite literally the biggest waste of time and money and will do nothing positive in the pursuit of your muscle gain goals. See them as expensive squash and personally I’d rather pick a good Robinson’s fruit and barley every day.
The only supplements I would worry about is whey protein, creatine monohydrate (5g a day is fine) and caffeine as a pre workout (3-5mg per KG of BW).
Hopefully that might just save you the best part of £80-£100 a month.
Don’t give up when you feel a bit squidgy
The last top tip is one that most people fall foul of. Particularly when they start their first real muscle gaining phase. The urge to go on a mini diet because they don’t feel as lean as they did 10 weeks ago is very common.
One thing you need to get right in your head when you start gaining is that you will put on some body fat. However as I mentioned above it shouldn’t be crazy amounts. Muscle gain is a slow process and if you give in after 10 weeks to do a 2-week mini cut then you won’t get far. I rarely do mini cuts with my clients as I just see it as a waste of time when they could be gaining muscle.
To add muscle mass you need to stay at it and keep pushing. Mentally it can be hard as you say goodbye to your abs and lose some condition but while this is happening you need to be content in knowing you are adding some good quality muscle mass.
So when things get tough just hang in there, stay focussed on your compounds and be motivated in knowing that when you diet in the future you will have more muscle mass and look bigger and leaner than you did last time.
Also most partners don’t mind a little bit more to hold onto during the winter months and just see that little bit of extra body fat as an extra layer to keep you warm. When the weather gets warmer then you can bring the shreds back.
I hope you found this blog interesting and insightful. Muscle gain is not as easy as people think so take heed of the points above.
If you do feel that you need a little bit more accountability and support from someone who has helped lots of clients successfully gain muscle then get in touch.
Generally muscle gain is a goal where coaching can add the biggest benefit. Helping you stay committed for the long term so you actually see some noticeable gains.
Don’t be afraid to pop me a line and let’s see what we can do.
Tagged as: Muscle gain
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