Being a marine takes a spine, a set of cajones, and a killer instinct. Building muscle takes pretty much the same set of characteristics. Do you think you have what it takes? If not, you could always accept being a walking marshmallow. Or you can use the following tips to get buff and muscular like a marine.
1. Know your enemies
What are your enemies? Alcohol, candy, processed foods, white flour products, and cigarettes are the enemies. First, let’s start with cigarettes. Smoking robs your body – and, therefore, your muscles – of key oxygen that is needed for building muscle.
If you do smoke, quit. If you don’t smoke, don’t even think about starting. If you have friends who smoke, either break up with them or make them stand 100 feet away when they feed their addiction.
Alcohol saps your testosterone levels, which are super-important for building muscle. If you absolutely have to drink, keep your intake to minimal levels.
Candy, sweets, and processed and refined foods have low nutrient value and they can make you fat. Make up your mind. Do you want militant muscle mass or do you want to be fat? If the former is your goal, then feed yourself nothing but high-quality foods like lean meats, eggs, fish, whole grains, beans, fruits, vegetables, seeds, and nuts.
2. Don’t be a stranger to heavy weights
There aren’t too many buff marines marching around the barracks who lifted spindly weights to get into that kind of shape. They got there because they pushed themselves in the weight room and threw around some heavy iron. Follow their example.
Use compound exercises to do this whenever you can. These exercises require the use of multiple muscles and joints working harmoniously, which enables you to lift heavier.
When you lift heavy, obviously you tax your muscles with more force, making them grow. But you also get an additional boost of testosterone, which further aids your muscle-building efforts.
Perform drills like squats, deadlifts, bench presses, military presses, and back rows.
3. Don’t neglect the importance of cardio
Marines do a lot of running. Why not follow in their footsteps? You want to look like them, so you might as well do what they do. Here’s the trick, though. They often have gear strapped to their backs, and they are often running in short, fast bursts. This means you need to do the same thing.
Get yourself a good weighted vest and strap it to your upper body. Do a warm-up jog at a slow pace and then hammer it for 30 seconds. Come back down to a slow pace for 60 seconds and then let it rip for 30 seconds again. Keep alternating back and forth for 20 minutes and finish up with a light cool-down jog for 5 minutes.
If you’re a real man, sprint up a hill for 30 seconds and jog back down to recover. Then repeat this sequence for 20 minutes. The added weight plus the hill plus the fact that you are sprinting will tax your muscles like you’ve never experienced before. That alone will lead to more muscle mass. And you will also further boost your testosterone levels. Sprints for the win!
4. Know when to take your foot off the gas
Yes, you have to lift heavy to build muscle. But you also don’t want to pop a hammy while you’re working out. Point being, take adequate rest breaks between your sets. This will afford you enough time to perform the next sets with precision and all-out effort.
As for the exact amount of time you should rest, play around with it. Your goal is to be able to lift the maximum weight you can for a set of 5 or 6 reps, but with good form. If that means you rest for 60 seconds, then do it. If it means 90 seconds is optimal, then use that time. Just know that pushing it too hard can be detrimental.
5. Take off days
The work you do in the gym is only laying the foundation for gaining muscle. It’s the time when you are not working out that your muscles are actually growing. Take advantage of this. It’s best not to work the same muscle groups on consecutive days. At least, don’t work the same muscles maximally on consecutive days.
It’s perfectly fine to do something else on your off days from heavy lifting, though. This will help keep you flexible, mobile, and less sore. For example, do some walking outside, attend yoga classes, or do some active stretches.
And it should stand to reason that sleep should be added to this recovery protocol. This is when your body gets a chance to fully recover and recharge. Aim for a solid 7 to 8 hours every night.
When it comes to building muscle like a marine, you will have a low failure rate as long as you think smart. The key is to strike a balance with your workouts, eating habits, and lifestyle habits in general.