We are ALL bodybuilders…. YES, bodybuilders!
Are you working on improving your physique? Yes? Then you, my friend, are a bodybuilder!
The idea of bodybuilding is to improve our physiques for a more balanced and symmetrical look. To improve upon our weakness, we have to allow our bodies periods of rest, recovery, and re-feeds. This does not mean that just because we are taking time off from the gym and having a cheat meal everyday, that we are gaining quality muscle. So, how do we approach an "off season" and "weight gain" in the winter to make quality gains?
- 1st: Adding more calories to our overall diet may be beneficial for a number of reasons; that is, if you are trying to put on size. The additional calories will fuel you to push more weight at the gym. Increasing our strength and amount of weight being pushed or pulled is a great indicator of progress.
2nd: Increasing your caloric intake also helps with our sleeping pattern. Typically, when our body is at a caloric deficit, we may experience trouble falling/staying asleep. A lot of it has to do with the lack of carbs that we are ingesting during a ‘cutting' phase. Carbs, when digested with foods such as turkey, nuts, and meats, create the perfect combination of a sleep aid. Tryptophan, an amino acid found in those types of foods, combined with carbs, triggers the brain to create serotonin.
"A 2007 study published in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition demonstrated that high-carbohydrate meals induce sleep more readily than low-carbohydrate meals eaten four hours prior to sleep."
- 3rd: Recovery is one of the most important aspects of making gains. If our body isn't recovering properly after a lift, then we will not be able to make significant changes to our body. In order to make sure that we are allowing our bodies to recover in a timely manner, we must start with the first 2 steps above. Increase our caloric intake in order to supply our body with the calories it needs to repair damaged muscle tissue. Many times, in a caloric deficit, we will notice that we are more sore for longer periods of time because our body has to choose how to expend its calories to keep us functioning. Unfortunately, one of your body's priorities isn't "making gains."
The time in which we recover the most is while we are sleeping. Getting into a healthy sleeping pattern where we are getting at least 8 hours of sleep per night is crucial to making progress in the gym.
So this takes us back to our initial question. Will putting on extra weight during the winter, benefit our gains? YES…when done properly. Eating a structured "bulk diet", getting a good amount of sleep, and doing things to help our bodies recover properly are the keys to making quality gains.