Getting to the gym after work can be tough, even if a commitment to building muscle is firm. In fact, a lack of energy is one of the most common reasons people say they go to see their doctor.
“People put it all kinds of different ways,” explained J. Fred. Ralston Jr. of the American College of Physicians. “Some say they’re tired, some say they’re fatigued, some say they just aren’t able to do what they need to do.”
Whatever the expression, the truth remains—people are tired these days, and with low energy comes low physical performance.
Fortunately, there are a few things that even the beginning bodybuilder can do to ensure that they have the energy required to keep working toward their goal.
1. Get a Full Night of Sleep
The recommendation to get at least eight hours of sleep every night applies to everything from weight loss to work ethic, so it shouldn’t be any surprise that a full night’s sleep will do wonders for energy levels as well.
However, nearly 71 percent of Americans don’t get enough shut eye, according to the National Sleep Foundation. That quickly translates into sagging energy, and it’s estimated that lack of sleep costs the American economy an average of $14 billion every year.
Not only that, lack of sleep also interferes with the production of human growth hormone, one of the most important hormones involved in muscle building. When HGH isn’t being produced, much more work is needed to add muscle and strengthen the body.
There are several ways to remedy this, however. The first is by improving the sleeping environment. According to a 2001 German study, the quality of a bed pillow has a lot to do with quality of sleep. Researchers believe that a medium-firm pillow is the best ticket to a full eight hours, especially one that ensures proper neck support. Laundering the bedding frequently is another good idea, as it will kill dust mites that may be interfering with sleep.
Lighting is important as well. Researchers at Brigham and Women’s Hospital found that blue lights keep the body from entering REM sleep more than any other distraction. To counter this, try turning off your computer and television completely, as well as turning your digital clock to the wall.
If improving the sleeping environment doesn’t produce a positive change, light therapy may be a better option. By exposing the body to 30 minutes of bright lights in the morning, more energy is created and people are able to get to sleep earlier and stay asleep longer. This could be accomplished by riding a bike to work or taking an early morning walk.
2. Improve All Aspects of Your Diet
Rather unsurprisingly, nutrition also plays a major role in energy creation. While consuming fast food on a regular basis will wreak havoc on energy levels, nutrient-dense foods pack a punch and are able to increase the metabolism as energy is released during digestion.
The foods best able to increase the metabolism include fruits, vegetables, whole grains, and nuts. Try some for mid-morning snacks and include others at lunch or dinner. The most important meal, however, is breakfast.
Skipping breakfast will lead to a general decrease in energy and a significant slowdown over time, says American Dietetic Association spokesman Dave Grotto.
“Skipping meals, or even just not eating for a few hours, can cause blood sugar dips that leave you feeling weak,” Grotto told WebMD. And that weakness translates into weaker muscles and less energy for the bench press.
If you eat full meals that hit all of the major food groups, however, more energy will be created to carry the body through the day and through any workout. According to research done at Cardiff University in Wales, participants who ate a fiber-rich breakfast experienced a 20 percent reduction in fatigue, along with less depression and better cognitive function.
That kind of mind-and-body interaction is essential for muscle building.
3. Try a Supplement with Energy Creating Properties
The modern diet is difficult to control, especially with a busy lifestyle, so sometimes it helps to add a muscle-building supplement to the diet. The right supplement will boost energy as well as spark protein synthesis.
Some ingredients common in testosterone supplements, for example, that provide energy as well as muscle-building support are coleus forskohlii, alpha lipoic acid, and horny goat weed. All of these are found in the product Syntheroid, but it is important to read reviews first before you buy any supplement.
4. Use Mental Tricks to Improve Your Mood
Last but not least, improving the mood can lead to impressive energy gains. It may seem like magic, but the truth is, a negative state of mind is one of the biggest causes of lack of energy. By contrast, a positive person has the energy needed to keep him or herself going throughout the day.
Mental tricks can work to make the transition from being worn out to worry-free a little easier. According to neuroscientist Gregory Berns of Emory University in Atlanta, trying something new is one of the easiest ways to create more energy naturally.
“We’ve known that when people do something novel, the brain’s reward chemical—dopamine—is released,” Berns told WebMD. “What we’ve discovered in the last five years is that dopamine is also a motivating chemical that gears us up to do more.”
So by trying a new hobby or meeting someone new, it’s possible to actually create enough motivation and energy to get you back in the gym.
Wearing brighter shirts or socks during weight training will also increase your feelings of freshness and energy.
By remembering to regulate sleep, nutrition, and mood, in addition to taking a well-rounded supplement, it is able to achieve better energy and bigger muscle pumps without venturing into the dangerous territory of steroids and expensive drugs.
Energy is key to success, and these tips and tricks will help the body get there.