If you thought personal fitness was simple, you thought wrong. As any expert can tell you, an optimal training regimen starts well before the first exercise begins and continues long after the last one has ended. Not only do things like equipment count but so too does the food you eat, the time you spend working out, and a slew of other variables. At this point, your hand might be up in the air…metaphorically speaking, that is (we hope your hand isn’t physically in the air right now). In other words, you have questions.
Well, we have answers. To provide them, we partnered up with Australia’s premier sports nutrition brand, Musashi. In addition to their epic selection of carefully formulated supplements, the brand frequently dispenses with training advice and other forms of health education. We can think of no better collaborator when answering your fitness questions. Naturally, we’ll make some product recommendations along the way.
Here are the most important training questions answered:
1. How Often Should I Train?
Different people have different fitness goals and that will affect recommended training days and durations. Experts recommend that most people get 150 minutes (or more) of moderate-intensity physical activity per week. That number goes up to 250 minutes for those who struggle with obesity.
Just a reminder: “moderate intensity” infers physical activity where you’re slightly out of breath, but still able to hold a conversation while you exercise. Abide by these recommended durations to maintain beneficial levels of health, prevent weight gain or, ideally, expedite weight loss.
Then we have the true fitness freaks out there, who are hoping to quickly improve muscle definition or build upon muscle mass. These folks have a tendency to go overboard from the get-go, training 6-7 days a week in their pursuit of hypertrophy gains (i.e. the enlargement of muscle fibres) and targeting specific muscle groups.
In reality, beginners should perform full-body workouts at first and take at least one day of rest between each workout. Once they’ve improved upon every muscle group in the general sense, they can start to tackle specific areas. Here are some training recommendations:
Beginner – Full body workout sessions (including the main compound exercises: squats, deadlifts, bench press, and shoulder press) for 2-3 days per week.
Intermediate – Split workouts by body part or upper/ lower body 3-4 sessions per week.
Advanced – Either full-body workout sessions or split body parts 4-5 times per week.
2. Is It Okay to Workout on an Empty Stomach?
With the increasing popularity of intermittent fasting, more and more people are working out on an empty stomach. Part of their reasoning is that a ‘fasted’ morning cardio workout will burn through stored fat in lieu of absent carbs. However, it can also use up your protein and thereby expedite the breakdown of muscle. Between this and other variables, you may experience fatigue and an overall lack of motivation throughout the rest of your day.
On the flip side of that coin, it’s no wiser to eat a boatload of calories directly before a workout. According to the latest research, you should eat a carb-rich meal (pasta, sweet potato, oats, rice, etc) approximately 2-4 hours before training. If you prefer to workout in the mornings, you can opt for the “planned grazing” approach, where you consume a small snack (like a banana) before training and then sip on a supplement throughout the workout session.
Musashi’s Pre-Workout is also a terrific solution for those early morning fitness sessions. With its blend of citrulline, beta-alanine, caffeine, creatine and amino acids, the formula quickly bolsters energy levels and functions as a pre-workout catalyst. Take it 30 minutes before intense exercise to promote blood flow, boost energy production, and prevent muscle fatigure, amongst other things.
3. What’s the Best Way to Reduce Muscle Soreness?
Feelings of soreness that follow exercise are typically associated with muscle recovery (i.e. the rebuilding and re-strengthening of muscles). It’s crucial that you nurture this process as much as you can. Doing so begins with a quality stretching routine at the end of your workout, which improves bloodflow to the muscles. Modern percussion guns perform a similar function.
One of the best ways to ensure smooth muscle recovery and reduce soreness is to consume high-quality protein 30-60 minutes after your workout has ended, as this will help offset the breakdown of lean muscle mass. You can determine the quality of protein by examining its digestibility along with the type and amount of amino acids it contains. This is the reason so many athletes consume whey protein, in particular, which features a higher amount of amino acids and is known to deliver a host of benefits.
Being masters of sports nutrition, Musashi puts copious amounts of time and effort into the development of their supplements. Their 100% Whey is high in quality, rich in amino acids, and great tasting too. Consume as directed 30-60 minutes post-training to reduce muscle tissue breakdown and accelerate recovery.
4. Can You Gain Muscle While Cutting?
Building mass (i.e. bulking) is correlated to the building of muscle, but what about those times when you’re preparing for a weight-based competition? In these instances, you may be forced to cut down on body fat in order to qualify, burning more calories than you consume. Is it possible to gain muscle during this period? While technically possible, it’s also quite difficult to pull off.
The truth is that most athletes bulk up before cutting, which allows them to hone their muscles leading into a competition. To do this properly, one must make smart eating decisions during the bulking phase. Avoid cheat meals and focus on foods or supplements that keep fat gain to a minimum. When you reach the cutting phase, you can shed excess fat with greater ease while maintaining or improving muscle definition.
A balanced diet and regular fitness program remain crucial during every stage of bulking or cutting. Then we have the process of thermogenesis, which channels energy into your body’s cells while burning calories. Would this be a good place to mention that The Rock’s Insane ‘Black Adam’ Workout Puts Us All to Shame protein powder contains natural thermogenic ingredients? Take it (or Shred and Burn protein bars) in tandem with a healthy diet and proper fitness program to preserve muscle while you burn through fat.
5. Which Should I Do First: Cardio or Weights?
Cardio and weight training are both essential components to a proper fitness regimen, but which comes first? While the subject is still being hashed out amongst experts, the traditional thinking is as follows:
If you want to burn fat…a recent study found that those who followed weight training with cardio burned more fat during the first 15 minutes of exercise. Since you’ve depleted your muscle energy during the weight training, the cardio burns through fat instead.
If you want to improve cardio endurance…as we mentioned above, weight training tends to cut through your muscle energy, leaving you in a state of relative fatigue. With this in mind, you should either perform cardio before weights or on an entirely different day when trying to improve endurance or speed.
If you want to build strength…you should perform cardio after the weights. Again, whatever comes first will take up the greatest amount of energy and you should proceed in accordance with your personal fitness goals.
Don’t forget about recovery…which helps ensure that you’re in top shape before your next training session. Musashi Bulk blends high-grade protein and readily-absorbed carbs to optimise muscle growth and replenish glycogen stores. Whether you put the cardio first or last, this post-workout supplement will have you back on your feet and ready for action.