- Eat 6 to 7 small meals a day (every 2 to 3 hours).
- Make sure to get at least 8 hours of sleep a night and if possible a 1/2 hour to 1 hour nap after your weight training workout.
- On weight training days have your post-workout meal be your largest meal of the day (about 25% of your daily caloric intake).
- Practice Periodized weight training, which is a training plan that changes your workout at regular, planned intervals of time. This consists of changes in reps, sets, intensity, exercises, amount of weight lifted, rest periods in between sets, rep tempo, and exercise frequency and duration.
- Drink plenty of water a day to stay well hydrated and avoid dehydration. Even small amounts (as little as 2% of body mass) of dehydration can adversely affect several physiological functions and negatively affect performance.
- Eat around 2 grams of protein per kilogram of bodyweight per day spaced evenly throughout the day (every 2 to 3 hours) For example, if you weigh 175 lbs. (79.5 kg) you would eat 159 grams of protein a day. This amount is within the guidelines of the National Strength and Conditioning Association (NSCA) and the American College of Sports Medicine (ACSM) for strength training athletes trying to increase strength and muscle hypertrophy.
- Prepare all your meals in advance for the day. In the words of Ross Perot, "If you fail to prepare, you prepare to fail."
- Do not over-train. This is actually more common than most people think. More is not better; the days of training 2 hours a day every day of the week are obsolete. Limit your workouts (weight-training) to no more than 1 hour and do not exercise (weight-train) more than 2 days in a row. Also, keep your cardiovascular exercise to a minimum. Too much cardiovascular exercise can greatly compromise your muscle strength and muscle building gains. Keep cardiovascular exercise to only 2 to 3 days a week and to no more than 20 minutes a workout.
- Track all your workouts in a journal. If you have no measure of progress how should you expect to progress.
- Build your weight training programs around the basic, multi-joint, free weight exercises. Multi-joint, free weight exercises such as the squat, bench press, and deadlift stimulate the release of large amounts of anabolic (muscle building) hormones (testosterone, growth hormone, etc.) and also involve stabilizer muscles that would normally not be used when doing a similar exercise on a machine (example: free weight bench press as opposed to a smith machine bench press).
Multi-joint exercise also gets several muscle groups involved as opposed to single-joint/isolation exercises (leg extensions, bicep curls, calf raises, etc.) which involve only one main muscle group. Multi-joint exercises also seem to improve intramuscular coordination better than single-joint/isolation exercises. Although you should build your weight-training programs around multi-joint, free weight exercises you should also incorporate machine weight exercises as well as single-joint/isolation exercises in your programs.
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