Your weight lifting and diet are both extremely important aspects of your training. In order to build a great physique you should pay close attention to both. Weight lifting will only give you 50% of the results you are looking for. Your diet will roughly make up the remaining 50% of your results assuming sleep and recovery times are all taken care of. So many people neglect their diet when looking to build muscle and get in great shape. This is a big mistake and will slow your progress and results down. People often say that the easy part is training but the hard part is sticking to a good solid diet.
I somewhat agree with this. People seem to find it easy to put in the time and effort to get to the gym and perform their workouts but struggle when it comes to something simple such as eating a good diet that will help you get the most out of your training. As important as your diet is, your weight lifting routine will also need to be effective in order to provide the proper stimulus to the muscles, forcing them to grow bigger and stronger. When designing your weight lifting routine you can choose between a custom weight lifting split or a proven weight lifting program. A simple weight lifting split could look something like this:
Chest + Back
Biceps + Triceps
Shoulders + Traps + Abs
This is a 3 day split. If you only have time to workout 3 times a week then this will be perfect for you. However you can also design your own 4 or 5 day split should you wish to do so. Try and add around 3-4 exercises you want to perform for each muscle group. Here’s an example of a typical chest and back workout:
3 sets of deadlifts
3 sets of barbell rows
3 sets of dumbbell rows/Lat pulldowns
3 sets of flat barbell bench press
3 sets of incline barbell bench press
3 sets of incline chest flyes
A quick note on 4 or day splits. If you decide to workout 4 or 5 times a week ensure you are only hitting each muscle group hard once a week. On the odd occasion twice a week can be effective if you have a weak body part you wish to bring up but make sure you leave adequate recovery times between muscle groups. Weight lifting splits are not the only set routines you can follow. Proven weight training programs such as Rippetoes or Bill Stars 5×5 are also great for building muscle and size. They are also effective for beginners.
Your Diet. Your weight lifting diet should be high in protein with the right number of calories, carbs and fats to allow you to put on weight and grow. To put on weight and muscle you need to be eating over your maintenance level of calories each day. Don’t overindulge in calories if your body does not require them otherwise you will get fat. A sensible number to shoot for is 500 calories over your body’s maintenance level. This will help you put on size and muscle while helping to minimize any fat gains.
Planning out an effective weight lifting diet that will help you build the physique you so desperately want can be confusing for some so let me briefly explain to you the simplest way to construct your diet so you can maximize your gains in the gym.
Calories. Consume around 300-500 calories over your maintenance level. When you notice your weight staying the same or even dropping slightly, add on another 200-300 calories to your diet.
Protein. To build muscle efficiently you need at least 1 gram of protein per pound of body-weight. A person who weighs 160 pounds will need at least 160 grams of protein every day. The best protein foods to build muscle are lean cuts of beef/steak, chicken, turkey, lamb, pork or fish. Other great protein foods are eggs, whey protein shakes, cheese, cottage cheese and milk.
Meals. Throughout the day consume around 4-7 meals. These meals shouldn’t be big meals that fill you up for the day and prevent you from eating properly later on. Something simple like a protein shake consumed with milk can count as a meal if you want it to. To help meet your protein intake for the day each meal should consist of a quality protein source such as chicken and provide around 30-40 grams of protein each sitting.
Try and space your meals out evenly throughout the day. 3 hours apart is a sensible choice. Get up early or at a reasonable time to make meal consumption easier. Trying to consume your meals when you get up late will make it very difficult for you to get in the correct amount of calorie and protein for the day.
Make up the remainder of your meals with complex carbs and vegetables such as jacket potatoes, sweet potatoes, brown rice, wholemeal pasta, wholemeal spaghetti, brown bread, broccoli, carrots etc. Remember, a good diet will provide even better results in the gym so don’t neglect it!