Where has my muscle gone!?

Ok so I have had a pretty hectic couple of months with my personal life. There has been a family death on my side and another on my partners side. This has meant travelling 200 miles south west and back again, then 200 miles north and back again. Teaming this with 2 weeks of trapped nerves in my neck and a car that’s been out of action, it’s lead to me being out of the gym for almost 2 months… and damn am I feeling it!

Here’s a couple of action shots!

I went back to the gym for a week 2 weeks ago, and then I was off again. From today I haven’t got any plans to go anywhere so I am back to training. I’m booking in for a sports massage and getting my strength back up. Today I had a go at snatching and boy has my strength dropped. Only managing a mere 40kg sadly.

But I’m stocked up on protein, chicken and vegetables. I’ve got myself a new half gallon water jug (hopefully my boyfriend won’t throw this one out) and I plan on being 100% badass and back on the game from this week on wards.

Missing the gym isn’t just detrimental for my valuable gains, but it’s also pretty bad for my mental health and my sanity. My whole self worth goes downhill, I feel a mess and a retreat into my little shell, my mojo goes, my motivation goes and so does my love for life.

So here’s to gains, a healthy mind and finding my motivation again. Let’s get it.

‘But I don’t wanna get big’

Ladies… Do not fear the weights room! I promise you, that strength training WILL NOT make you big.

Copy of _DSC3890eewithoutIron

Let’s look at what it takes in order to build substantial amounts of muscle.

  1. An intense strength programme.
    Unless you are training 6/7 days a week, having 2 hour, hard sessions twice a day and hammering the weights HARD every session, with little to no cardio (or the right kind of cardio) then building muscle is going to be a very slow process. As a female myself, I have been trying to ‘get big’ for years. I strength train 5 days a week mostly, and the majority of the time to failure… I’m yet to ‘get big’

    2. FOOD!
    You would not even believe the amount you would have to consume in order to sustain that level of training. Let alone the amount of protein intake you would need to repair the muscle and recover from your training. I’m not talking eating a little bit more chicken and adding a bit more protein and carbs to your diet. I am talking hitting 4000 calories or more PER DAY. You can not build muscle unless you are consuming a surplus in calories. Most women, in order to build muscle will need around 2500-2800 calories a day out of that you would need to eat 30% at least in protein in order to repair and recover. Let me put this into perspective for you. 30% of 2500 is 750 calories from protein, Which is just over SIX CHICKEN BREASTS, and that’s PER DAY! Without the necessary food intake for your training you will not be able to build a substantial amount of muscle. (This goes for men too)

    3. Testosterone
    To look like a man,, you have to be built like a man, and ladies… We are most definitely not. You can not build muscle without testosterone. FACT. Men with lower levels of testosterone will find it much more difficult to build muscle, so imagine how much harder it is for us. Again, here’s a little perspective for you to highlight the extreme differences in the levels of testosterone male and females have.

    Total testosterone (amount floating around at the time of a testosterone test)

    An average healthy adult male will have between 270-1070 nanograms per deciliter of blood.

    An average healthy adult fertile women will have between 15-70 nanograms per deciliter of blood.
    This is such a huge difference in testosterone levels that it literally makes it impossible for women to build muscle like men can, unless of course, you are using the supplements or steroids. You may see many female bodybuilders who look manly, have that thick neck and chiseled jaw line, (and deeper voice) this is the results of steroids, NOT picking up some dumbbells a couple of times a week.

    4. Metabolism
    Weight training increases metabolism. Going back to point number 2 and food intake. The reason you will need to be consuming all those calories is because weight training will burn more calories, therefore you need to eat more. Your body will look to your muscles for energy before anything else, as this is a more efficient way for your body to convert energy stores. So actually you can strength train and your body will be taking those gains right back from you unless your eating right.

Weight training will actually enhance your figure, add curves, help you reduce and keep off that extra fat, it will increase bone density and reduce risk of developing osteoporosis later in life, it will help reduce cholesterol, help to keep type 2 diabetes under control, increase moto nurone recruitment which will help balance and coordination, it’s a great antidepressant -releases endorphines which help boost your mood, helps you sleep better, gives you more energy and of course… makes you stronger!

When it’s time to friendship dump your gym partner.

When you embark on a new journey to reach a goal you have set, you want to see results yes?

A scenario that I encountered the other day whilst discussing goals and exercises with a couple of gym users who had come together, left me a bit annoyed.

These 2 poeple had come to the gym together, both wanted to build strength but one of them was more to target an onld injury and the other was for all over strength. Great! Right up my street, they had come to the right person.

I started teaching squats to the girl who was interested in building all over strength, showing her correct form, depth etc. I then handed her a 10kg barbell so she could feel the diffence in the centre of balance whilst holding the weight across her shoulders. Great, her from was really good and she listened to my instruction really well and seemed to pick it up quickly. So what’s the problem with this? Her gym partner told her that she should ditch the weight and build up to it. Another exercise this happened with was with the polymetric box, targeting glutes and quads I showed her how to use the step to really challenge these areas, and once she got used to the movement to grab a couple of dumbbells and progress that way. The gym partner, pointed at the aerobic stepper and told her to start on that and build up to the polymetric box. I could see a pattern emerging here.

Firstly, this girl was a fit and able bodied human being, capeable of lowering herself onto a chair or sofa to sit down using just her body weight as a load, or even holding a cup of tea or some books or even a bag! Strangely similar to a squat is it not? She was also completely capeable of walking up the flight of stairs to get to the top floor gym, similar to several steps on the aerobic stepper.

So what’s my point?

Why would you start off at a level that is way below your capeablity when you are there to progress and make changes to yourself physically? By starting on an aerobic stepper instead of a polymetric box takes no more effort than walking up a flight of stairs that you know you can already do with ease. By starting off too easy you are setting yourself up for failure. And why? Because all motivation will go out of the window when you don’t see results. If you’re not getting results then you’re not going to stick at it. In order to progress you need to challenge yourself, if you don’t then what’s the point?

A lot of people I see in and around the gyms I go to are at a plateau. They’ve been doing the same thing for months sometimes and not added any weight, maybe they’ve been scared to add any weight in case it’s too hard. Well guess what? It’s supposed to be hard. If it was easy we would all be in great shape and have bodies to die for.

By not progressing your routine you will never be better, and that’s kind of the point of the game! If you have people who are telling you not to try something in case it’s too hard then be firm and tell them you WANT to go up a level. Most of us, especially new gym users, have little or no confidence when it comes to increasing weight when performing load bearing exercises but it is crucial to your progress and to reach your goals.

And if you’re the one telling your friend that they should do something thats easier… find someone else to train with, go hard or go home.