While you may learn many things from this article that are completely new to you, the main objective is to organize the importance of the factors and variables that lead to the most complete, aesthetic, proportional bodybuilding “package” that you can bring to the stage, or just for personal development.
Many people over-emphasize the little things that go into training, nutrition, supplementation, etc and forget broad pictures that could easily help them reach their goals and improve at a much higher rate. At times, we may be over analyzing a single mineral or supplement while the entire diet is at a huge caloric deficit, containing the wrong macronutrient makeup, and so on.
#1 – Calories
This is not to say all calories are equal. Calories can be derived from three major macronutrients – fat, carbs, and proteins. Those three are further broken down and similarly, are not to be considered equal by any means. However, it is a simple fact that to gain weight, which is needed to gain muscle or to simply fuel muscle, excess calories are needed. To burn fat, or lose weight, you need to reduce calories. Whether you’re able to retain or even possibly build muscle in the process of losing weight depends on some other, smaller variables. But the main, most important variable is the increase or reduction of calories as a whole.
#2 – Resting
Training, albeit another important factor on this list, is almost meaningless if adequate rest and calories are not maintained. All clients that I’ve stressed the importance of resting more, when they’ve rested, made incredible progress in building muscle and most notably, fat loss and water reduction/bloat reduction. 8-9 hours per night – DO IT! You may have to find ways to aid your sleep and as importantly, get into a deep and quality sleep that aids in the repair of muscles that have been broken down from workouts. The majority of growth hormone in your body is also released while you sleep, aiding in muscle growth and fat loss on its own.
#3 – Training
Now you CAN improve your physique a little by changing your nutrition, adding in certain supplementation, etc. But if you don’t train, you’re not going to see anything. Muscles need stimulation to send the signals to grow. If your muscles are not being broken down through training and progressive overload, they simply have no reason to physiologically get bigger. And not only training, but intense and heavy training is optimal. A bigger muscle is a stronger muscle – remember that! Lifting heavy weight and overloading the muscles gives your body a reason to say “hey, we’re lifting a lot of weight. We need to put on more muscle in order to lift this weight”. Maybe not as simple of a direction as that, but you get the idea.
#4 – Nutritional Makeup
Most people that have the other priorities in place are commonly lacking in this department alone. Most experts would see it higher up on the list for the sheer fact that most people already have 1-3 in place. You can’t out train a bad diet, and genetics and drugs will only get you so far. Having a diet compromised of quality protein with high amino acid profiles, complex and nutrient-dense carbohydrates, healthy fats, etc REALLY will show better results. IIFYM has come and gone, and although you CAN get in great shape off of it, it is not -optimal-. You will get BETTER results from concentrating on the quality of your diet. Meal timing, although not as important as simply getting adequate nutrition on a daily basis, also has some importance although it is often times overlooked today.
#5 – Consistency
No brainer, huh? Meal after meal, session after session, and all the other variables that need to be upheld on a day-to-day basis revolve around CONSISTENCY. No drug or protein shake will make up for partying and binging on the weekends, missing sessions or going half-assed on certain bodyparts, etc. Not only will the regimentation prove optimal for muscle gains, but you will find keeping consistent will help in other psychological areas of your life. When I’m in contest preparation, every part of my life is more regimented, optimal, and generally better. Is consistency as important as having 3 out of the 4 first variables, and totally skipping one? Not AS important. But keeping the above 4 principles consistent is, again, more important than any amount of oil you can shoot up, or any supplement that you can take.