During my early twenties, I considered going into the field of personal training and learned all types of useful bodybuilding tips along the way. I had recently found a passion in the field of physical fitness and nutrition, and even though I discovered I didn’t want to spend my career inside of a gym most of my days, I was still able to take along some amazing tips with me through the training I received. Bodybuilding is often a misleading issue for many people, especially women. Even today when I hear the term bodybuilding, I picture huge, muscular men and women who are bursting out of their clothes. Though some bodybuilders do look this way, the term itself is about nothing more than sculpting the human body to its best potential. For me, that was never to look like a professional fitness model, which is why I’ll never want to spend over an hour in any gym - ever. Bodybuilding in its most general term has some great health benefits, which is why I’d like to share with you some simple bodybuilding tips to help you a get a lean figure more naturally. There are no supplements involved here, or extensive sessions in a gym. Check these tips out to get a leaner and more toned body naturally, without having to down protein shakes all day or hit the weights for hours a day.
1. Power up with Protein
You don’t need to drink protein shakes all day to reap the benefits of one of the best bodybuilding tips ever, which is to make sure you’re getting enough protein. Protein shakes can be great for people that don’t have time to sit down and eat, or who don’t like to eat a variety of protein-rich foods. As a vegetarian, I actually do like using quality plant-based protein powders, along with grass-fed whey protein products, however this isn’t the only form of protein that I eat. Protein is essential to feeding and maintaining muscle. In a balanced diet, it won’t make you gain weight unless you’re taking in more calories than your body needs to maintain its ideal weight. Protein can actually raise your metabolism by helping feed muscles, which burn fat for fuel. Be sure you eat a good balance of protein from lean meats, preferably organic, and raw or and/or organic plant-based proteins as well. Good sources include organic turkey, chicken, wild fish, organic eggs and nonfat Greek yogurt, nuts, seeds, and legumes. Even plants like kale and spinach have high amounts of protein per serving, along with sea veggies like spirulina.
2. Get Enough Sleep
I bet you didn’t think this was a bodybuilding tip, but sleep is very important to building a lean, fit figure. Sleep helps your body produce the growth hormone DHEA, necessary for muscle maintenance, a healthy metabolism, and optimal hormone health. Sufficient sleep levels also help to increase your energy, stabilize your hunger hormones, and increase your brain health. All of these lead to a leaner figure and a better state of health overall. Aim for at least 8 hours a night, with no exceptions girls!
3. Get Rid of the Starches
Starchy foods that raise your blood sugar such as white potatoes, refined grains, refined sugars, fast foods and processed foods, can be a health risk in their own right. If your goal is to get a leaner figure, these foods should be the first to go off your menu choices. Starchy foods tell the body to store fat, and increase your hunger levels. They also lead to insulin resistance, which makes your body need more starchy foods to balance the blood sugar. Insulin resistance is linked to Type 2 diabetes as well as weight gain, hormone issues and depression. Aim for more complex carbs in moderation throughout your diet. These come from foods like sweet potatoes, quinoa and non-starchy veggies, as some of the leanest choices. Winter squash, whole grain oats, and brown rice are other good options as well.
4. Don’t Overkill on Cardio
I have to admit that I’m a cardio junkie. Cardio just makes me feel good, and I love to walk, jog and generally just move around a lot no matter what I’m doing. If you’re looking to build more muscle and maintain that lean muscle, don’t overkill on your cardio activities, without including weight training too. Weight training helps to build muscles, which won’t bulk you up if done in moderation, but will help you maintain lean muscle so you don’t get flabby. Muscle prevents the body from storing calories as fat, and if you’re not achieving enough lean muscle, you may be storing extra calories as flab, even though you’re skinny. Keep cardio to 30-45 minutes six days a week if you’re trying to build muscle and be sure to include at least four to five 30 minute weight training sessions. Some of my favorite weight training exercises are yoga, along with kettlebell exercises that I do all in my own living room; no hot gym or machines needed!
5. Eat Often
If you want to build lean muscle, which all of us need for healthy bones, then you need to eat smaller portions more often. This not only keeps your energy levels up, but keeps your body from using calories to store as fat, and instead uses them for fuel. Aim for three smaller portioned meals, and two to three small snacks per day. Counting calories isn’t necessary unless you’re trying to gain or lose weight. I like to simply eat until I’m 80% full and eat mostly veggies and lean protein for snacks, while letting my meals contain the complex carbs. This increases metabolism and stabilizes blood sugar, and supports your mood and sleep levels as well.
6. Drink Water
This seems like such a boring tip, but I have to include it, because it works! Drinking water has been proven to help flush toxins from the body, regulate the appetite, and regulate the metabolism. Your digestive system, hunger levels and muscles depend on water for optimal health. Though eight glasses may be a generic number, try finding what works for you instead. I find I’m happy at six, while other people I know drink ten. Carry a water bottle with you wherever you go and fill up on water-rich foods veggies too! If you can't stand plain water, try tossing in a tangy lemon or lime, which are my favorite for sprucing up a nice, ice cold glass of H20!
7. Get Enough Nutrients
Though protein is important for a healthy diet, so is a variety of nutrients. Taking a quality, whole foods multivitamin is never a bad idea for anyone, and if you’re looking to create a healthy, lean body, be sure you’re eating a balanced diet and getting enough nutrients from your foods. Doing so will help give you an energized, balanced body that builds lean muscle naturally and easily.
If bodybuilding is new to you, try not to stereotype it to just muscle- massive individuals. All of us can achieve the benefits of bodybuilding, which include more energy, a higher metabolism, and naturally fit figure. What is your favorite bodybuilding tip to achieve these health goals?