First and most important! Today for the hell of it I flexed my arms in the mirror and guess what? Hello biceps! Reaction 1: omg run around screaming like a crazy person! (okay, maybe not literally, but that’s what happened in my head.) Reaction 2: EAT MORE PROTEIN.
Protein is vital for muscle preservation and growth. The recommendation for people who strength train is at least .8-1g protein per pound of lean body mass. My lean body mass is approximately 140 lbs, so I’m currently aiming for 140g protein or more per day (for folks who track calories/macros using exchanges, that’s 20 protein exchanges). It’s an increase over the 13-15 protein (~250 cals/day) I’ve been trying to get most of this year, but I want to maximize muscle growth in order to facilitate fat loss. This is really important to me for 2 reasons: I want to be stronger and lift heavier, and I want the weight I lose to be fat, not lean body mass. Increased muscle mass burns more calories, thereby increasing resting metabolic rate. We’ll see how this plays out when next I measure and weigh myself.
I think it’s also important to point out that although I see biceps, I don’t specifically train my arms (no bicep curls or tricep extensions for this girl!). On cardio days, I run (slowly, in C25k intervals, working towards 30 minutes straight running). On strength days, I do all compound exercises: lower body/core (squats, 1-leg Romanian deadlifts), back/chest/core (incline pushups, standing cable rows), and shoulders/back/core (cable pull-down, overhead press). I only work my arms insofar as I need them to hold onto the weights I’m using the rest of my body to move. And this is enough to facilitate increased – visible – strength in my arms.
I went to the gym today for strength training even though I was still sore from Monday’s workout. It’s definitely going to take me a couple more sessions to get back to where I was performance-wise before Thanksgiving, but even so I saw gains since Monday and I’m so glad I went. I’m going to give my current training program 2 more sessions and then next Wednesday I’m going to change things up a little: decrease reps of each weighted exercise to ~8 per set (better for muscle growth) which should allow me to increase working weight dramatically. My goal is to be doing Stronglifts 5×5 (with dumbbell overhead press because there’s no good way to do barbell overhead press at our gym) by the end of January.
Walking warm-up, strength circuits (goblet squats and 1-leg Romanian deadlifts, incline push-ups and standing cable rows, cable pull-downs and dumbbell overhead presses, bodyweight squats and walkouts)
Snack: 1 apple, 2 string cheese (2P, 1C)
Breakfast: 2 eggs, 2 turkey sausage, 1 light high fiber English muffin (4P, 1C)
Lunch: brown rice, chicken curry (4P, 3F, 2C)
Snack: 3 satsumas, 2 string cheese (2P, 1C)
Snack: apple with peanut butter (2F, 1C)
Dinner: salmon, roasted broccoli, roasted potatoes (6P, 3F, 2C)
Totals: 18 P, 8F, 8 C