In this month’s edition of Mission Muscle, veteran and guest fitness blogger Linton McClain talks about what it takes to make the most of your training schedule and gain the muscle you want!
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Max Muscle: A Guide to Muscle Gain
By Linton McClain
Personal Trainer, Superior Body Sculpting
No matter where you are deployed, it pays to have a little muscle and strength. There’s always a need for pushing, lifting, and carrying in some way, shape, or form. What does muscle and strength signify? Attaining different levels of strength means you have discipline and you are not afraid of working hard. Naturally, you identify with displays of strength and athleticism when observing individuals who are physically fit. You see confidence, ability, and opportunity. Ultimately, you see what you want to see in yourself. No doubt, you will be inspired when you are being properly motivated. In this months article I will discuss the proper way to build and maintain muscle mass while avoiding injury. To build muscle properly, you need to follow three simple steps; Conditioning, Building, and Maintaining.
Every military job is demanding in a unique way. With your experience, you would agree that some military jobs are more physical than others. Knowing that, your body has the wonderful ability to adapt to different stressors. This ability to adapt has the tendency to work for or against you over time. Have you ever noticed that most military members are more fit after basic training and deployment? Why? Physical fitness is a requirement in those two arenas. At the end of the day, your body will adapt to being more sedentary or physically fit. For this reason, conditioning is very important when starting or maintaining an exercise routine. Basically, you will stress your body in a negative manner without proper conditioning. You want to avoid negative stressors at all costs. Different exercise goals require different levels of conditioning. Cardio exercises require cardio conditioning. Sports require athletic conditioning. Strength training requires functional conditioning. Conditioning is the key to longevity. Remember this as you are beginning your fitness regimen. Conditioning increases your performance while avoiding injury. Do plenty of research on proper conditioning for lifters before you start a muscle-‐building program. Injury prevention is the number one priority.
Different sources will often give you different information. Finding a guide can be difficult when sifting through the facts. Many lifters build muscle for mass while others build for strength and stabilization. What is the correct reason for building? It all depends on your individual goals. No matter the goal, building starts with the fundamentals. First, you want to acknowledge that your muscles may be tighter and weaker in different areas. That differential has to be corrected before moving on to more strenuous lifting. Next, you need to match a realistic goal to your body and your needs. You are not going to gain 40lbs of muscle over night. You also don’t want to be deployed with excess muscle. It will literally weigh you down. As you can see, there are many undiscovered variables. Finally, you need to put in the work. You need to figure out your schedule with exercise, work, and eating. You will go through a trial and error period as you discover what works for your lifestyle. While you may read from many sources, you will quickly discover the differences between yourself and the messenger. Everything is easier said than done. On that note, be patient as you work through different obstacles. After getting approval from your doctor, try the following routine:
Conditioning (Weeks 1-4) – 3 Sets of 20 repetitions
Strength Training (Weeks 5 – 8) – 4 Sets of 12 repetitions
Building (Weeks 9 -12) - 4 sets of 8
You will get stronger and gain more muscle mass as you lift more weight with lower reps. Pay attention to your recovery and the presence of pain as you begin to lift heavier. The presence of pain or slow recovery means that you may need to spend more time in the previous phase. You can’t force progress.
Lifting without a proper maintenance program can quickly take you down the wrong path. Your body needs proper time for recovery. It also needs proper nutrition and a consistent schedule. Proper care has to be taken when pushing your body to its limits. The transition from a sedentary lifestyle to an active lifestyle doesn’t happen without a fight. The truth of the matter is that we abuse different parts of our body on a daily basis with many unnatural movements. As a result, we start to acquire pain and injuries over the years. Unfortunately, sometimes we just don’t know what we are doing in the gym. Maintenance has to be approached from the standpoint of developing a more holistic understanding of your body. You have to put in the time for what works for you. The right conditioning, exercise program, and maintenance program are all essential parts of having success with your muscle-‐building program. Find out if your maintenance program fits your goals and protects your body. Discover your needs by keeping a fitness log to create effective programs for your body. Monitor your weekly food intake, sleep, hydration, and your exercise program. Watch for patterns and adjust as necessary. Especially, when being deployed or returning from deployment.
Muscle building and strength training started decades ago with athletes. Momentum continues to build as more people join the ranks of lifters and competitors. With that said, practice more caution as you consider lifting heavier to build muscle and size. Take the time to develop a customized program and approach to fit your lifestyle and goals. As always, if you have any questions, feel free to contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org. You can also find Superior Body Sculpting on Facebook and Instagram.