5 Tips to Get Shredded
by Samantha Coogan, MS, RDN, LD
1. Use Free Weights Instead of Machines
With free weights you get a better range of motion, plus you need to constantly engage your core to stabilize during these movements. Machines tend to do a lot of the work for you. Remember, you don’t need machines, you are a machine!
2. Use Movements That Will Increase Muscle Fiber Size
Bench press, deadlift, squats (specifically front and back squats), cleans and overhead presses all work multitudes of muscles at one time. This is a great way to work smarter, not harder. Don’t waste 2 hours in the gym trying to target specific areas when you can hit multiple areas with just a few movements.
3. Test Your 1 Rep Max
Every few weeks, test out your 1RM on certain lifts, like deadlift, bench, squat, etc. This is a great test of how far along your strength is coming. Always make sure to use proper form as much as possible, but realize that when we test our limits is when form tends to break down. Be safe, and if you aren’t an avid or well-trained lifter, maybe test out 90% of your max.
4. Protein Party
The usual recommendation for protein when attempting to gain muscle is 1-1.5g per pound of body weight. Depending on your training, size and frequency, some athletes can go as high as 2g per pound of body weight. When increasing protein it is important to monitor your symptoms. Check your urine color, if it is dark brown or looks like there is blood in it, then that could be a sign of kidney breakdown due to excessive protein. Protein can also cause kidney stones and jaundice in large doses. Just be careful, slowly add it in, make sure you’re drinking plenty of water and have other key nutrients in your diet. Also, make sure you include plant-based proteins as part of your protein allotment and not just all animal protein. The excess of animal protein tends to be the culprit for kidney issues.
Your muscles grow while you sleep as they repair and recover. Remember, muscles are broken down in the gym, nourished in the kitchen, but grow in the bedroom. You could also throw off testosterone, insulin and cortisol levels with inadequate sleep.