Part 4 | Things I Wish I knew Before I Started
Yo! In part one of the blog, we went through just how important calories are, the role they play in weight loss and weight gain & exactly why there is no such thing as a good or a bad food. You can find part 1 RIGHT HERE.
Part 2 explored why cheat meals are rubbish, the supplements that are actually worth spending money on as well as why you might actually want to reconsider being lean ALL THE TIME. Yep – you read that right. Part 2 is RIGHT HERE.
Part 3 then took you through why fasted cardio is irrelevant & why training one muscle group per workout probably means you’re leaving gains on th table. Check that one out RIGHT HERE.
So what’s in store today?
You Should Probably Incorporate More than One Rep Range
I was a staunch believer that every exercise should be done for 3 sets of 10 reps.
Okay, sometimes I’d venture up to 4 sets and very occasionally I’d go down as low as 8 or as high as 12 reps in a set, but on the whole, I was a 3 by 10 guy.
The reason for this was that I thought that was what you needed to do to build muscle, and while it certainly can work, it isn’t gospel.
In fact, you’ll get far better results by switching up your rep ranges, sets, and even the weights you use.
The general guidelines for rep ranges are:
1-5 reps = Strength
6-15 reps = Hypertrophy (muscle growth)
Over 15 reps = Endurance
In truth though, there’s a lot of crossover.
You can definitely build muscle with both low-rep and high-rep sets
Having a stronger base will make your endurance work easier, and a bigger work capacity from higher reps will probably boost your strength. After all, the stronger you are, the more total weight you can move, which will absolutely help you build more muscle.
Essentially, you need a blend of everything, its just that the ratio of each is going to be dependent on your goals.
A powerlifter for instance would probably do half his or her work at around 5 reps per set with a heavy weight, 30% in the 6-12 range with moderate weights, and 20% would be light, endurance-style stuff to boost fitness and for accessory work.
A bodybuilder might have 50:25:25 hypertrophy: strength: endurance.
Get the picture? Figure out what is most important to you & cater your training to suit.
In terms of building muscle though, the reason why you need different rep ranges and not just the sets of 10 as I used to do, is because building maximal strength hits a different type of muscle fibre and also ramps up your CNS, which in turn can aid muscle growth.
That’s why I favour splitting up my days into strength-focused and hypertrophy-focused. So the first time I hit a bodypart in a week, I’ll go heavy for sets of 3-6 and the second time could be lighter for sets of 8 to 12.
You Should Probably Squat, Bench Press and Deadlift.
If you’re avoiding squats, bench presses and deadlifts because you’re afraid of them making you look blocky or chunky, you should know that’s crap.
They’re hands down some of the best exercises for building size and strength, purely for the fact they work so many muscle groups and put your body under stress. It’s also going to mean your time spent in the gym is super efficient – why work one muscle at a time, when you can work four?
Even if you can’t do traditional back squats, barbell deadlifts and regular bench presses, I’d strongly suggest doing variations such as front squats, trap bar deadlifts and incline bench presses, or high-bar paused squats, rack deadlifts and dumbbell presses. You get the picture.
Brown Carbs Aren’t Better.
It’s that age-old debate: Brown carbs vs. white carbs.
We’re constantly being told by the media that we should be eating whole-grains all the time, and switching our white rice for brown, white toast for wheat, and going for all kinds of whole-grain cereals, instead of the delicious sugary stuff.
There’s some merit in this - whole-grain and brown carbs tend to have a little more fibre and protein, but in reality, it makes little to no difference.
The main reason why so many are in favour of brown carbs is because they’re supposedly slow-digesting, meaning they have less of an impact on blood sugar. This is scored on something called the glycemic index, or GI.
All foods are given a score of 1-100 depending on how quickly they digest. Fast digesting foods get a score of 70-100, medium score between 51 and 69, while low-GI is classed as 50 or less.
There are several problems with GI though.
For one, all foods are scored based on the amount of that food needed to provide 50 grams of carbohydrate. For something like white rice or bagels, that isn’t that much food. For things like broccoli or carrots however, that’s a huge amount of food.
Also, foods here are tested in isolation, which just isn’t applicable to the real world.
Sure, sometimes you eat a carbohydrate on its own by maybe having a piece of fruit, but usually we mix our foods together, by having meat and veggies with our rice, some peanut butter on our bread, or sauce with pasta. Adding fats and proteins drastically changes the GI of a food, meaning unless you’re the most boring eater in the world, GI doesn’t mean much.
I’m not saying you should be eating copious amounts of white carbs and processed sugars, as you still need to make sure you get enough fibre (around 10-12 grams of fibre per 1,000 calories per day) but there’s no need to avoid white carbs either.
We’re almost halfway – don’t go anywhere, as there’s still another 11 topics I’m going to run you guys through to make your life even easier.
In the mean time, if you haven’t already downloaded my free guide on how to calculate your daily calorie requirements, GO HERE. You can then start tracking your requirements & eating the foods you love.
See you next week!