My cousin is a crossfit instructor. Her natural ability to build muscle and fearlessly tackle exercises that terrify me are really impressive. On a recent visit home, she gifted me with a free week at her gym. I nervously laughed, because I am more the go for a hike and a yoga class kind of gal. Although, in the back of my mind, I have always wanted to work on my strength training outside of just holding a good side plank in yoga.
So, I went to the classes for a week, and I had so much fun learning the world of weightlifting, along with other methods of strength training, and was astonished at what my body could accomplish. If this resonates with you, read on for more of my story and some tips on building muscle that don’t require you have the genetics of my crazy cousin who is genetically built to build muscle just by thinking about it!
1) Crash your Comfort Zone
My cousin handed me a barbell with bumper plates, so I could “drop from overhead” if needed. I had no idea what she was talking about. I tried to do a power clean as she instructed but I just couldn’t access the muscles, even though I was moderately strong.
After a few attempts, I was lifting the bar and bumper plates to my waist, over my head, then letting them crash to the floor behind me. It was exhilarating! Each day I added a small amount of weight, and was feeling strong and confident by the end of the week. Oh, and I was totally hooked and am now a regular weight lifter.
2) Prioritise Nutrition
Whether you are trying to bulk up or slim down, your nutrition plays a major role in achieving your goals. If protein shakes and low carb meals are you idea of balanced, then you have some learning to do! Creating a nutrition plan that incorporates healthy, balanced food that is delicious for you is the key to success.
Smart carbohydrates, lean protein and plenty of fruits and veggies eaten at the correct times will significantly increase your body’s ability to drop kgs and build muscle.
3) Slumber Party
We live in a fast paced world. Racing from place to place, sneaking screen time in whenever we can, even until the moment before our eyes close, is all too common. If you’re busy as a bee schedule is leaving you lacking in the slumber department, it is time to make some adjustments. In order for muscles to recover and build, and for your body and mind to truly relax and rejuvenate, you need 7-8 hours of sleep. Don’t put quality sleep at the bottom of your priority list. Make it a must have, and see the benefits.
4) Slow Down
This tip goes well with the previous one.
Fast paced minds have a hard time focusing on the present, and allowing time for gratitude and rest. Mindfulness is a bit of a buzzword right now, but rightly so. Regular meditation has benefits that will greatly increase the overall health of your body and mind. Studies show it can decrease stress, improve sleep, and boost the immune system. The saying goes, those who are too busy to meditate need it the most.
5) Stay Positive
There is no doubt that genetics play a role in some people’s success in athletic pursuits. Sometimes it can feel frustrating that your muscle doesn’t build as fast, or that your running times are a bit slower than those who seem to naturally fly through the fitness world.
But don’t let negative self talk slow you down. Staying positive and being grateful for what your body can accomplish will help you achieve your goals quicker. If you find yourself getting bogged down by negative thoughts, give that old meditation thing a try.
I will never forget the feeling of my first weight drop.
I felt my feet press into the floor, my core engaged, and I let out a grunt as the weights lifted to my waist then over my head. I held it there for a second before letting it all drop behind me with a thud.
I couldn’t believe it. Just moments before I was totally convinced I could never do it. I spent the rest of the hour doing it over and over in front of the mirror, perfecting my form. Weight lifting and exercise is a great way to overcome barriers you once thought impossible. Push yourself in a healthy and safe way, and you too can be astonished at what your body can accomplish.