3 Lifestyle Must-Do's to Get Stronger

3 Lifestyle Must-Do's to Get Stronger

It’s no secret diet and exercise are two of the biggest keys to building strength.

In fact, I wrote a whole part one post on this topic. Be sure to check it out if you haven’t already: 4 Diet Must-Do’s to Get Stronger.

But as I was writing the previous article, a few non-diet musts kept coming to mind that also commonly make or break muscle-building progress.

And I’d say these are just as important as the tips in part one because diet and exercise aren’t the only parts of your life affecting your muscles, your abs, or your health.

So if you want to get strong, make sure to crush these 3 lifestyle must-do’s.

#1  Manage and minimize stress.

Stress is the killer of fun, health, and… muscle.

Unfortunately, most people have a significant amount of stress in their lives these days from jam-packed schedules, work worries, family obligations, etc.

If we don’t regularly take downtime and recharge, our bodies stay in a stressed-out state which increases inflammation and messes with our hormones like cortisol and DHEA.

Cortisol is what’s called a catabolic hormone, meaning it breaks down muscle protein to use as energy. DHEA, on the other hand, is an anabolic hormone, meaning it helps build up muscle tissue.

We need both of these hormones in the right ratio, but stress increases cortisol and lowers DHEA. As you can imagine, this is the opposite of what we want for building strength. And that’s why when you’re stressed or overtraining (also a form of stress to your body), you can find yourself working out harder and harder without seeing results.

It’s worth noting that your body’s perceived stress may be different than how you actually feel.

I know this firsthand after having multiple hormone and blood tests done over the last few years. My results after each one indicated that my body was more stressed than I actually thought I was. Seeing my numbers on paper has been a good reminder to slow down and chill the F out.

So whether you actually feel stressed, you’re constantly on the go, or you frequently work out hard, your body could probably use some extra R&R like meditation, journaling and deep breathing. You could also do any activity that helps clear your mind and relax like reading a book, talking a walk in nature, or watching “The Great British Baking Show” on Netflix.

#2  Get 7+ hours of sleep.

Speaking of your body’s perceived stress, sleep can have a huge impact on this.

Consistently not sleeping enough also raises those cortisol levels. Pair that with doing lots of intense workouts, a crazy schedule, and undereating (an all too common scenario), and you’re probably not going to see those lifts increase.

You’ve most likely heard all these sleep recommendations but I’ll repeat them here too:

  • Create a bedtime routine that includes relaxing activities and winding down around the same time each night. (The body loves repetition when it comes to sleep.)
  • Keep indoor lighting dim once the sun sets to get your circadian rhythm on track.
  • Try noise machines, melatonin or CBD oil to help with falling asleep.
  • Stop the scrolling / TV watching / whatever it is you’re doing and just go to bed already!

And I get it. Sometimes you can do all the right things and still struggle with sleep. Do the best you can, stay consistent with your routine, and don’t be afraid to skip a workout to catch some extra Z’s.

#3  Periodize your goals.

“I want to get ripped and better at CrossFit.” -Every CrossFitter ever

Can you relate? The good news — you can achieve both of these goals!

The more-truthful-than-bad news — you’ll just want to work on one at a time to get better results.

As you might remember from my previous post, unless you’re a lifting newbie, getting stronger requires eating at a caloric maintenance or surplus.

That means you don’t want to be dieting to lose body fat if you’re also trying to gain strength. You’ll end up with little to no results for both.

Instead, decide on a particular length of time, often 8-16 weeks, to really focus on building strength with targeted workouts and nutrition.

Then once it’s complete, decide if you want to do another round, choose a different goal, or simply eat for maintenance and health.

This is essentially periodization. It’s the process I take clients through in order to maximize their progress, and the lack of it is the reason many people stay stuck.

If you’re struggling to tackle both a leaner physique and strength, feel free to reach out and I’ll help you create a nutrition plan that’s properly periodized.

Now happy chillin’, sleeping, and heavy lifting!


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