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Carbohydrate cycling for muscle growth

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Some of us have more ambitious goals related to fitness and wanting to take our physiques to a new level. For some that means gaining more muscle but if we want to maintain a great physique which means gaining muscle mass with the least amount of fat this can get complicated.

Carbohydrate cycling is a tool that can help us gain muscle without too much fat so that we can stay lean and maintain a great physique. Carbohydrate cycling helps us cycle calories, we need to be in a calorie surplus to gain muscle which means that we need to eat more but if we eat too much we will gain fat.

When we want to build muscle, working each muscle group 2 times per week is more effective so we may be doing resistance training 6 days a week and 1 day for cardio or rest day, for nutrition we will have moderate carbohydrate days and high carbohydrate days. We need to schedule our nutrition program according to our workout program, on the more intense workout days we have high carbohydrate days, on moderate training days we have moderate carbohydrate days and you can have one low carbohydrate day if you have a rest day.

For high carbohydrate days you can increase calories around 400 to 500 calories per day, on moderate days you can increase calories around 200 to 300 calories, on low carbohydrate days you can keep calories at maintenance. This numbers are just a guide so we need to measure our progress and results every week to make the adjustments needed. If you want to calculate your macronutrient ratios you can check this post.

What we do with this tool is to give nutrients and energy to our body according to its needs, the day we train harder we give it more nutrients and energy so that it has everything it needs to recover and build muscle, on moderate days we lower it a little just to make sure that it still has everything it needs without being too much and we can use lower carbohydrates day to stay at maintenance on our rest days to make sure that most of the weight we gain is muscle and fat just a minimum.

Building muscle takes time, nutrition is key but if we eat too much and we don´t exercise the right way we will gain too much fat. Muscle growth is the result of the right stimulus to the muscle and enough nutrients. This is a combination of progressive overload, the right volume and frequency plus the right macronutrient ratios that can supply our body with energy for the workouts, our daily activities, recovery and growth.

This strategy is effective because muscle growth takes time and if we stick with the same macronutrient ratios every day for a long period of time our body adapts and we need to keep changing things to keep challenging our body, that´s what makes it change. But, this tool takes more time, effort and time, you need to have a clear idea of how portions look like  to eye ball what you eat, it´s hard in the beginning but with time we get use to it.

It would mean so much to me if you share this post with your friends and family and if you follow me on Twitter and Facebook, together we can help millions live a better life.

Pam

Fitness goals

How to use intermittent fasting for muscle growth

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We´ve talked about the benefits of intermittent fasting not only for fat loss and to stay lean but also to improve our relationship with food and spiritual reasons. Here we´re going to see how this tool can help us stay lean while gaining muscle mass.

Many people when they want to gain muscle go through a “bulking phase” and when they want to lose fat they go through a “cutting phase”, I´m sure you´ve heard about this specially if you´ve been in a gym or if you know someone who loves training. Personally I don´t like to follow this scheme, in the bulking phase people tend to gain too much weight and a huge part of it is fat, I prefer to gain muscle mass while staying lean, this means gaining as less body fat as possible. Building as much muscle as possible with the least fat.

Intermittent fasting is a tool that help us gain lean muscle mass with the least amount of fat, staying lean and looking great all year round regardless of our goal is possible. What we need to do is fast for 16 hours and eat in an 8 hour window so we will be having 2 meals per day, and we need to schedule our workouts around our eating window, this can be the hardest part for some of us.

If you have lunch and dinner it will be great if you can workout before dinner, this way we make sure that you are giving your body the nutrients it needs right after the workout so it can recover. It is easier to skip breakfast because our morning are very fast paced so you don´t need to stressed out having a healthy breakfast when you are running late for school or your job and in the mornings there´s always so much to do between meetings, projects, important stuff, appointments so it easier to stay in a fasted state until lunch.

With this option you are giving your body the nutrients it needs when it needs them most and you´re also considering hormones, in the fasting window insulin goes down which improves fat burning and growth hormone is high which helps with muscle building, this works great specially when you fast in the morning by skipping breakfast.

There´s another option you can follow which is to have 3 meals per day, breakfast, lunch and dinner, in this option you won´t be following a fasting schedule, just make sure that you have those 3 meals only, no snacks in between.

For muscle growth we need to be in a calorie surplus, we need to eat a little more but if we eat too much we will gain fat. The calorie surplus needs to be just enough for your body to maintain your actual weight, to recover and to grow. If you want to get your macronutrient ratios check this post.

Intermittent fasting makes it easier to stay lean while gaining muscle mass if your goal is to improve your physique and to look as great as possible, this tools makes everything simple and effortless, there´s no reason to overcomplicate things if you have more ambitious goals and you want to compete in shows or you practice any sports professionally then this tool may not be the best option for muscle growth.

It would mean so much to me if you share this post with your friends and family and if you follow me on Twitter and Facebook, together we can help millions live a better life.

Pam

Programs

Ultimate Muscle Building Program

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With Captain Marvel still in theaters and Avengers: Endgame the next month many of us are excited and motivated to get in the best shape of our lives. We can all get in amazing shape and get a superhero physique but we need to train hard and smart, if your goal is to lose fat we´ve created a program inspired on Captain Marvel and Avengers to lose fat which you can see by clicking here

We´ve created this muscle building program inspired by The Avengers and it´s based on the 5 principles of fitness. To be able to sustain any fitness goal we need good habits so by following this program for some time you´ll be able to develop the habits you need to sustain your results and make fitness part of your life.

Muscle gains take time, it is faster to lose fat than to gain muscle and the more experienced or the more time you´ve been training the more time it takes to gain lean muscle mass.

Most programs we can find to gain muscle mass are not focused on building an athletic, superhero looking physique and this is one of the reasons why most of us don´t want to put the work in the gym.  If we want to get the best results possible we need to work on the 5 principles of fitness, work smart and work hard, building a superhero physique is simple, we need to focus on the right exercises, use the best training variables, make sure that our nutrition program is on point to help our body recover and grow and also keep stress low and get good quality sleep.

This sounds like a lot but we share with you the best tools for each principle to make everything simple. If you are new to working out with weights, or you are new to the type of training and variables we use here you can gain muscle faster the first months, as you get to use to it the time at what you gain muscle mass starts to slow down. This is normal, all of us can gain more muscle when we start working out and as time pass by and we get more trained and our body gets use to it, it takes more time to gain muscle.

The goal with this program is to gain as much muscle mass as possible with the least amount of fat, whenever we want to gain muscle we will gain some fat along with that muscle but if we can make that fat gain as small as possible we will be able to stay lean and look amazing.

NUTRITION

Since our goal is to gain as much muscle as possible with the least amount of fat we need to keep our nutrition program as clean as possible so focusing on real fresh food and avoiding all junk, processed and fast food is key.

Calories and macronutrient ratios are important, we need to eat more to build muscle but if we eat too much we will gain fat, this is where things can get tricky. The nutrition program is mostly the same you´re supposed to be following as a lifestyle, meals and dishes cooked and prepared with real fresh ingredients, the only difference is that you can eat a little more.

Focusing on macros over calories is the best option, our body needs nutrients to function, recover and grow so if we set macronutrient ratios we make sure to give our body the nutrients it needs, we share with you some numbers and formulas below you can use to set your macro ratios for this program:

Balance nutrition guide

PROTEINS – 1.5 grams per pound of bodyweight

FATS – 0.5 grams per pound of bodyweight

CARBOHYDRATES – 1.5 grams per pound of bodyweight

Just take your bodyweight in pounds and multiply if by each of the macros, for example for someone who weights 132 pounds (that´s my current weight):

Proteins 132 x 1.5 = 198 grams

Fats 132 x 0.5 = 66 grams

Carbohydrates 132 x 1.5 = 198 grams

If we focus on setting macronutrient ratios the total calories will fall into place, we can take the numbers from the example above to get calories, we just multiply the results by the calories per gram for each macronutrient:

Proteins 198 x 4 = 792

Fats 66 x 9 = 594

Carbohydrates 198 x 4 = 792

            Total calories = 2178 calories per day

There are essential amino acids and essential fatty acids but there are no essential carbohydrates this means that our body only needs carbs for energy so this gives us the opportunity to cycle or manage carbohydrates. Take this numbers as a guide and make the adjustments you need, keeping proteins and fats the same while manipulating carbohydrates is the best way to go, starting with 1.5 grams of carbs per pound of bodyweight is a good starting point but if you feel like you need more energy, or if you want to gain more mass you can go to 2.0 grams per pound of bodyweight if you see that you are gaining weight fast and you want to slow it just reduce carbohydrates.

Ketogenic nutrition guide

Ketogenic diets are an amazing tool to use to stay lean and to improve health, this diets can help you gain muscle mass while staying lean which makes it easier to gain muscle mass without gaining too much fat.

If you are new to this diets and new to training I don´t recommend you try keto while following this program for the first time, the first weeks when you start keto you´ll get “the keto flu” which are different symptoms you get from your body getting read of all carbohydrates and junk which can be though to manage and it the program there will be some stuff going on emotionally so there´s no need to make it harder.

Ketogenic diets are high in fat, moderate in protein and low in carbohydrates, there´s not exact numbers for each macro but considering fats around 70% of your diet, proteins 20% and carbohydrates 10% is a good place to start.

FATS – 70%

PROTEINS – 20%

CARBOHYDRATES – 10%

From there you can make the adjustments you need. It´s necessary that you have an idea  of the amount of food you eat so the first days you´ll need to read the labels and do the math to know how much you are eating, you won´t be doing this for the rest of your life, and don´t get stressed if you can´t be exact and perfect with everything, looking for perfection will only stress you more.

FOOD LIST

Approved foods

We know there are so many foods left so we´ll be adding them every time we find out one missing. To cook you can use herbs, seasoning and condiments.

I´m not all in with cheat meals but in this program if you want to have a cheat meal you can do it once or twice a week, it all depends of your results and how those cheat meals affect you, for some of us after a while of eating clean meals one cheat meals can make us feel bad.

Intermittent fasting is an amazing tool used by ancient civilizations for so many years to treat and prevent diseases and also for spirituality. It´s an awesome tool with a lot of benefits for our health and it also makes it easier for us to stay lean. The nutrition programs we saw before to set macronutrient ratios with a more balanced diet of proteins, fast and carbohydrates or a ketogenis diet higher in fats, moderate protein and low carbohydrates tell us what to eat, intermittent fasting tell us when to eat. Since our goal with this program is gain muscle mass  having 3 meals a day is a great option, if we want to get more benefits from fasting the best option is to keep those 3 meals in an 8 hour period and schedule them around our workouts and fast for 16 hours. If you train in the morning then having breakfast and lunch with a snack in between is the way to go, if you train at night then having lunch and dinner with a snack between is the option. If you can´t make this schedule work for you don´t worry that much find one that works for you, you can stay with breakfast, lunch and dinner and workout at the time you can.

Once you set your macronutrient ratios based on the formulas we saw before you divide your results into 3 meals.

TRAINING

For the training part of the program we´ll use 2 techniques called progressive overload and periodization which will give us the opportunity to get stronger on key movements and be able to track that progress and it also give us the opportunity to work in different rep ranges which is the way in which we can ensure muscle gains with both types of hypertrophy to get the best results.

The program is a 5 day split so you do all 5 days and on day 6 you start again. One cycle is made up of 10 days so you´ll be doing the 5 day split twice to get one cycle, on the first part of the cycle we´ll be working on strength which means heavy weight and low reps, around 5 – 7 reps and on the second part of the cycle  we´ll be working on hypertrophy which means lighter weight and more reps around 8 – 12 reps.

To use periodization, every week the reps will vary for both parts of the cycle and to use progressive overload you need to get stronger you need to lift more weight, since we will be increasing reps it will be harder to increase weight every week which is also a way to use progressive overload but to make it more effective the complete training program last 30 days, you can repeat this program 2 or 3 times and each time you start it you must be able to lift more weight for both parts of the cycle.

Muscle building workout.

If you want to take your training to another level you can do some cardio every day, 20 to 30 minutes of cardio is ok just try to keep it low to moderate intensity, make sure that you really can workout this much and avoid injuries and also consider the amount of food, you need to eat enough to have energy for the workouts, the entire day and to recover and build mass.

SLEEP

Nowadays most of us don´t prioritize sleep but if you want to get the best results you need to give it the importance it deserves. Try to get 8 hours of good quality sleep every night, our body needs to recover after the workouts and most of that recovery is done while we sleep, if we don´t get enough good quality sleep and the body is not recovered from the workouts we won´t be as focused as we need in the gym and we can get injured, we won´t have energy, it´ll be harder to stick with the diet.

Lack of sleep gets out of balance all systems, hormones and functions in our body, the internal clock of our body gets out of rhythm and this impacts negatively not only our results but our health. If you can´t get 8 hours of sleep every night you can get amazing results with 6 hours of sleep every night as long as those 6 hours of good quality and if the other 4 principles of fitness are in place.

What you can do to make sure those 6 hours are as great as possible is to develop a sleeping schedule which means to go to sleep at the same time every night and wake up at the same time every day. 60 minutes before you go to sleep turn off all lights, this include light bulbs, tv, computer, laptop, tablet, ipad, cell phone, etc. If you can´t do it 60 minutes try 30 minutes before going to bed, this will help your body know that is time to sleep and it will start producing melatonin.

When you are in bed, the last 10 to 15 minutes before you fall asleep focus on something you are really grateful for and really feel the emotion of gratitude in your heart, once you feel the emotion think and imagine yourself already having the physique you want while you keep the emotion of gratitude.   

STRESS

Stress is also highly important, stress increase cortisol and it can block your fat loss. Stress keeps our body in the “fight or flight” response, it keep us alert to survive dangerous situations, when we´re in this state our body uses all the energy to keep us awake and survive so there´s no energy and time to recover, grow and heal. We spend most of our day in this state which stops our body from recovering, healing and growing. This makes it harder for our body to build muscle mass and keep body fat low.

We need to keep stress low and we can do that by avoiding negative situations, negative environment and negative people. You may know someone who spend most of the time blaming, complaining and criticizing, if you can avoid those people do it. You have a big goal to focus on which is to get in amazing shape so you can´t be wasting time listening to those comments.

In the next section which is Mindset we´ll talk about breathing techniques which are a great tool to lower stress apart from avoiding and keeping negativity out of your life.

MINDSET

Getting the right mindset is key for your results, realizing and accepting that it takes time to gain muscle and to get the physique you want is the first step. As you keep progressing it will take more time to gain muscle mass but the results you´ll see every week or two are enough to keep you motivated. How you look in the mirror and how you feel are the most important and motivating results.

Since we got inspired by superheroes and our goal is to get an amazing physique, lean, strong and more of a superhero look the program is hard. You need to be really committed and focus.

Things get harder when we´re not living a healthy lifestyle, we need to make some changes in order to develop the right habits and that means that we need to make different choices which takes us out of our comfort zone and this go against what our mind wants. Our mind wants us to stay as comfortable as possible, it likes routines, habits and systems where it doesn´t have to think and work that much to do them, when we want to develop new habits we need to make different choices and this takes effort, time and work so our mind comes with so many different excuses to avoid the work.

Do not pay attention to those excuses, do what you need to do and see what you are capable of, do not let your mind play tricks with you and don´t believe the excuses and reasons why you can´t achieve something.

In the sleep section we talk about turning off light and electronic devices at least 30 minutes before you go to sleep, you can take those 30 minutes to do some breathing exercises that will help you reduce stress, focus on your goal and sleep better.

There are many breathing techniques but to keep it simple just close your eyes and take a deep breath, then slowly release it, breathe in and breathe out slowly, focus on breathing from your diaphragm. When breathing slowly you´ll feel how your heart rate slows, your body and muscles start to relax and your mind starts to calm down. Just breathing deeply and slowly reduces stress and helps you fall asleep faster, once you do this for a couple of minutes think of something you are grateful and feel the emotions of gratitude deeply in your heart, once you feel grateful create an image of yourself already having the physique you want, keep that image in your mind while feeling gratitude at the same time.

Last thing I will say is to stick to the program, we´re all looking for fast results but that´s impossible, it will take some time to achieve our goal, I know that we all want to see some results that keep us motivated and you´ll see those results but not in one day, stick to the program for the 30 days it last and you´ll be amazed, if you keep changing programs every week you´ll never make progress, you´ll never see results and you´ll keep failing time and time again.

Some of the most important keys to achieve anything is patience, discipline and consistency so stay with the program long enough to see results and to get to your goal. In some weeks you´ll be able to feel and see some progress, the best way to measure your progress is by how the clothes fit and the mirror, the scale is not the best option because it only considers total weight and not body composition.

Here you have a complete program to gain muscle mass and get a superhero physique, you can follow this program whenever you want to gain muscle mass or get stronger. We created another program also inspired in Captain Marvel and Avengers Endgame to help you lose fat and stay lean. You can follow the two of them one after another and keep changing them.

Now you need to put in the time and effort, you need to work hard and smart, if you follow the program you´ll be working smart but the hard work depends of you. We are capable of achieving great things but our biggest limit is our mindset, don´t let any limiting belief, fear, doubt or excuse keep you where you are. There´s nothing to fear and nothing to lose, getting in amazing shape is just the beginning.

Follow the program and share your results, if there´s anything else I can do for you, is there something else I can help you or something you want to know leave your comments and questions below, you can also find me on Twitter, Facebook and Instagram.

Pam