Doing cardio is a great way to build up endurance, strengthening your heart and lungs, and exercising your legs, but too many people think cardio is the be-all and end-all of getting in shape and getting into a healthier lifestyle. This misconception is actually dangerous, as by focusing on cardio, you may be putting your health at risk. What could be so risky about jogging? Well, focusing on only one type of exercise is never good, and overdoing it could actually wear your body down, as it never gets the proper time to recover.
Cardio exercise also makes you lose fat, which sounds like a good game plan, but fat is actually required in order to build muscle mass. Wait, muscles? But muscles are for show, you tell yourself, and building up muscles is for vain meatheads. Well, no. Muscles are an essential part of our skeletal system that keeps our hinges working, and by neglecting them, you are literally allowing your body to fall apart. But worry not, we have come up with tips to get you started on exercising all of your muscles in a risk-free manner.
1. Eat more, not less
This may sound counterintuitive, but when you’re trying to build muscle mass, you need to actually eat more, as the body requires fuel for this transformation. Instead of having three large meals a day, eat six smaller ones throughout the day. This will also keep you from snacking between meals.
2. Eat fatty
This sounds downright blasphemous, but we all know today that fat isn’t the evil it was made out to be, and that, in most cases, carbs are the culprit behind weight gain. The fact is that dietary fats are actually a key ingredient to muscle gain and a healthy diet. That being said, not all fats are created equal. Saturated fats, such as those present in animal products, like red meat and cheese, increase cholesterol levels and are considered less healthy overall. Instead, seek your fat intake from vegetable oil (olive oil in particular), avocados, fat-rich fish like salmon and nuts.
3. Bulk up on protein
Proteins are the main building blocks of our body, and as such are the most important part of a healthy diet, especially one aimed at adding muscle mass. Eat plenty of protein-rich foods, but shun those that are rich in saturated fat. Egg whites, tuna and legumes are a great source of proteins, as are low-fat dairy products like cottage cheese and Greek yogurt. For your meat, you can never go wrong with lean chicken breast. Check out our article about how to detect fatty chicken breast.
4. Exercise all of your muscles
When working out, it’s extremely important to pay equal attention to all of your muscles. No single workout can target all of the muscles, which is why you should portion out your weekly exercise program so that each day tackles different muscles, and stick by this plan. Some examples of exercises that target different muscles:
5. Keep raising the bar, cautiously
If an exercise gets too easy, make it harder by adding weight, increasing the number of sets, etc. But be aware that, while working out isn’t meant to be easy, your body has limits. Do not overwork your muscles and do not overestimate your strength. When you increase the difficulty of an exercise, do so carefully and in small steps. Gauge out what’s too easy and work your way from there.