When most people think of the bodybuilding basics, the first thing that springs to mind is what happens inside the gym. Things like how high their max bench press is, or how much extra weight they can get on their barbell squat.
Undoubtedly, the way you workout in the gym has a huge impact on the results you achieve, but the truth is that what you do before and after you enter the gym has an even greater impact.
After a heavy session in the gym where you have done a lot of weight lifting, you have put your body under a huge amount of stress.
When you lift weights you cause little micro tears in the muscles, and your body has to fix these tears and grow back stronger and more resilient than before. That is why diet is so important to bodybuilding.
You need to give your body the fuel and energy it needs to go through this exhaustive process, and without it all of your hard work and effort in the gym will be for nothing.
Key nutrition points
Here are some of the key nutrition points you need to look out for:
- Protein – You need to have a high level of protein in your diet if you want to build muscle, as it is an essential part of your body’s process to regenerate and grow muscle.
- Carbohydrates – Ignore most of what you hear about carbs being the devil, if you are training hard in the gym then getting carbohydrates into your diet in the morning and post workout is essential, as it helps your body unlock the glycogen (energy) in your muscles during your workouts.
- Breakfast – Always eat a nutritious breakfast that is high in complete proteins and carbohydrates. It’s the most important meal of the day, and without it you won’t have the energy to train to the best of your ability.
- Eat more often – Rather than eating 3 big meals a day, try to spread out your eating into 5 or more smaller meals. It’s easier for your body to digest and you won’t have as many spikes and crashes in your energy levels.
- Keep hydrated! – Very important, as your muscles are made up of 70-75% water.
- Supplements – Whilst not essential, and certainly not as important as having the right diet in the first place, using some supplements such as a whey protein post workout, can help speed up your results. Just don’t be fooled into thinking that supplements can replace a healthy diet!
What about rest?
Another one of the other key elements of bodybuilding that is often overlooked is sleep!
The majority of your muscle growth happens while you are asleep, and if you are not getting enough sleep then you are not going to grow as much muscle, it’s as simple as that.
The amount of sleep required varies from person to person, but generally you should be looking to get 8 – 9 hours of good sleep every night.
Finally, your gym plan
Once you have got your diet and sleep pattern right, then you can move on and start worrying about what happens inside the gym. Here are some key things to keep in mind:
- Get a plan – If you just walk into the gym with a vague idea of working on your legs, then you are not going to have the best workout possible. Find a good workout plan based on your goals and stick to it.
- Rest days – Pushing yourself hard is good, but muscles need time to recover and grow after a workout, so it’s essential to factor rest days into your workout plan.
- Stay motivated! – Set yourself realistic goals with at least a 6-month time frame. If you walk in expecting drastic results after 2 weeks, then you are going to be disappointed and you will lose motivation. Have a plan, stick to it, and you WILL see results!