Some individuals think as long as you show up to the gym and do the required training for the day you’re good to go for the rest of the day.
Well… not exactly.
Sure, you can go in and perform your training program correctly. Maybe you’re even doing everything your coach or trainer says. But if you’re not taking care of yourself outside of the gym, chances are you won’t get the results you were hoping for.
So what are the top 7 things you should be doing for building strength outside of the gym?
The Top 7 Things You Should Be Doing Outside of the Gym:
- Eat your protein
- Schedule your carbs
- Eat quality food
- Rest and recover
- Decrease your levels of stress
- Limit your alcohol intake
- Drink water
#1: Eat Your Protein
Protein is a key factor in any muscle building program. In fact, most athletes today understand just how important adequate protein intake is for proper recovery. When it comes to what your body is made up of, protein is a big part of it.
Proteins are the main building blocks of your body. They help make up not only your muscles, but your tendons, organs, skin, enzymes, neurotransmitters and even hormones. Just as your muscles need protein to regenerate, so do your organs, cells, and other tissues. It could even be said that protein-rich foods are the most important foods to consume.
When it comes to the benefits of high protein foods, the list is endless. However, the top benefit this macronutrient offers is its ability to increase lean muscle mass. Interestingly enough, when your body is lacking proper protein intake, muscle atrophy (ie breakdown of muscle to be used for energy) can take place.
Protein is especially important for active individuals, for people following a weight training or strength training program. Strength training damages the muscles — allowing them the opportunity to repair themselves and grow back even stronger. In order for this to happen you need to be consuming adequate levels of protein in the first place. In fact, research has actually shown that consumption of protein, both pre and post-workout, helps increase muscle recovery and increase muscle synthesis. (1)
Some of the top sources of protein include:
- Grass-fed beef
- Free range chicken
- Bone broth
- Wild-caught salmon
- Grass-fed bison
- Almonds and other high protein nuts
Branch Chain Amino Acids (BCAAs) are vitally important for a healthy body and are available primarily in grass-fed meats, poultry, and wild-caught seafood. Find out more about branch chain amino acids.
#2: Schedule Your Carb Intake
In order to get the most “bang for your buck” in regards to workout performance, it’s best to schedule the majority of your daily carb intake around your exercise window. For example, if you’re training in the afternoon or evening, planning a lunch heavy in carbs could be key in adequate digestion time in order to perform optimally.
#3: Eat Quality Food
The quality of the food you put in your body just the quality of effort you put into your workouts. If you’re eating poor-quality food and experiencing discomfort or low levels of energy, chances are it could be what you’re eating.
However, if you’re fueling your workouts with whole foods from quality sources, chance are you’ll see an improvement in your performance.
#4: Rest and Recover
Nothing like some good ol’ R+R to get those muscles feeling refreshed.
Maybe you’re working hard, giving 100 percent every day but your performance is still not improving. Well, it’s possible you aren’t taking enough time to recover. Your body needs time to repair itself and recover from the grueling workouts. Pushing yourself day in and day out may actually be what’s holding you back from progressing. Surprisingly enough, non-stop training throughout a training cycle may actually weaken an athlete.
#5: Decrease Stress Levels
Psychological stress and physical performance are thought to be highly associated with one another. Stress can make average, everyday tasks seem downright daunting. This emotional state can make concentrating hard, it can impair your memory and severely decrease your motivation.
Not only that, but stress has the ability to impair coordination and motor skills. This could decrease your physical performance and increase the chance of injury as well.
#6: Limit Your Alcohol Intake
Quality foods aren’t the only thing you should be concerned with. Re-think your alcoholic beverage intake.
Some research has shown that alcohol can actually impair protein synthesis. One study from Pennsylvania State University’s College of Medicine found that the consumption of alcohol actually decreased the production of human growth hormone (HGH). HGH is produced in the pituitary gland. It’s vital in the regeneration of cells and various tissues.
HGH has been shown to increase strength, decrease the recovery the recovery time of healthy weight loss, prevent cardiovascular disease, improve mood and improve your sleep.
Going overboard at happy hour has also been shown to slow down your recovery time from your training, slow down the rate of your fat metabolism and — probably the most well-known fact about alcohol — cause serious dehydration.
#7: Stay Hydrated
It’s not enough to stay away from alcohol that can severely dehydrate you to begin with. Keeping up with your water intake is also a key player in seeing an improvement in the gym. Staying hydrated plays a number of different roles within our bodies. Some of the benefits of maintaining adequate fluid intake include:
- Proper regulation of body temperature
- Proper regulation of blood pressure
- Adequate absorption of nutrients
- Prevention of cramping or pulled muscles
- Reduce oxidative stress that occurs during high-intensity exercise
In fact, dehydration has been shown to lead to improper control of body temperature, increased fatigue and reduced motivation.
Working really hard in the gym but not seeing results? Go through this checklist before you start to worry:
- Count your macros and make sure you’re eating enough protein.
- Schedule your carbs around your workouts for optimal energy.
- Make sure you’re eating whole, high quality foods.
- Ensure you’re getting adequate rest and recovery time.
- Decrease your levels of stress.
- Limit your alcohol intake.
Make sure you’re drinking plenty of water.
About The Author:
Steph is a writer, competitive weightlifter and nutritional consultant with a passion for health and wellness. She is the founder of The Athlete’s Kitchen, a website dedicated to providing its audience with articles, recipes and the latest nutritional information on their favorite foods. Find her on instagram @steph.lodge or at https://www.TheAthletesKitchen.com