You may live in a place where the winter months are hidden by decent weather and sunshine, but for many of us, this time of year brings in unfavorable conditions, dark days, and less time in the outdoors. Instead of getting fed up with the dreary days, make this prime time for focusing on building muscle and working on the 2020 gun show. 

From Thanksgiving to New Years’ festivities and into the dark winter days of February, the surplus of calories consumed can be put to work in a way that can help you build muscle. Instead of beating yourself up for not shying away from a little more on your plate, hit the gym and make those splurges work for you instead of against you.

A common mindset this time of year gets thrown into a mixed bag of, “I’m failing miserably with nutrition” and, “I’ve gained ___ pounds this week.” I’m here to challenge you to shift your focus from managing weight to managing your muscles. The latter has so many incredible benefits, including increasing your daily calorie expenditure and slowing down the aging process. Learn more about the great benefits of muscle and what it can do for you here in the article Building and Maintaining Muscle.

Now, if you’re serious about putting on some muscle, check out this video and make the next several months about building yourself into a buff babe.

For those who may be best known as skim reader Sally, here are the takeaways for how to build muscle and channel your inner badass this winter:

5 Tips to Build Muscle

1. Slow down your training sessions.

To increase muscle volume, you will need to add rest time. Use the 2-3 minutes between sets to hydrate, walk around, and allow the body parts you’re working to re-energize (don’t worry, this is not wasted time).

2. Damage has to occur to grow.

The only way strength and growth can happen from small micro-tears in the muscles. Your reps should all be at 70-80% of your 1 rep max. This means, with proper form, you should be digging deep to complete your reps.

3. Fewer reps equal more muscle.

If you’re training to maintain muscle or build muscle endurance, higher reps are recommended, but to add muscle (and increase your metabolic rate) increase the weight and decrease the repetitions to 6-12. Just be sure that you are exhausting the muscle within that range (if you get to 12 and could keep going, increase the weight you are using).

4. Recovery days make all the difference.

You can still add in some HIIT or cardio days, but be sure to allow your main muscle groups to recover for 2-3 days in between lifting days. Focusing on each main muscle group 2 times per week is great.

5. Wrap up your training sessions with the right balance of nutrition.

Wrap up your training sessions with the right balance of nutrition. Post lift, your body will be begging to start the repair process. Something like Brute Strength Post- Workout can give you the right balance of amino acids, protein, and carbohydrates to being the restorative process.

Finally, you may fall into the category of “not wanting to get jacked and look manly.” Let me squash that myth right now — It’s not that easy. Your hormones (and in this case, lack of) are the main factor in bulking up and having a masculine physique. Not even out lifting the bros will make you look like one of them.