No matter how hard you train, it’s not easy to get big. Here are the reasons you’re not getting Muscle Growth and how to fix them.
A little over a month ago, many made resolutions to improve their body and muscle growth. For most, that included such things as how to build muscle, strength gains and becoming a powerhouse in the weight room. Building your new body does not happen overnight though. It is a process. It takes time and dedication. From focusing too much on isolation exercises to not resting enough to being too impatient, those are just a few of the reasons you may not be getting muscle growth. Read on to see if you’re guilty of any.
Zero Muscle Growth?
#1 Stop Taking A Random Approach
Ever been sucked into a brand-new workout program that is going to give you the body of an Olympic athlete?
Fitness magazines, Internet sites and TV commercials are littered with the new greatest workout. Sure, some of these programs are great and will help you reach your goals. But, having so much available to you can result in exercise Attention Deficit Disorder.
Many keep trying a new workout each time they go to the gym without any rhyme or reason to it. Working out should not be done at random. Before stepping into the gym, form a program that fits your goals best.
How many days a week do you have to train?
Are you a novice in the gym?
Do you want to put on some muscle?
These are the types of questions you should ask yourself.
Try a three-day per week full body program doing each exercise for 3 sets of 8 to 12 reps. Each week, the goal is to progress things a little further by adding a little bit more weight. Stick to a program for 4 to 6 weeks. This will allow your muscles to adapt to the workouts and consistently improve without plateauing. Cut out the randomness and stick to a program.
#2 You Should Focus On Compound Exercises
Everyone wants big biceps, bulging calves and the best abs. You shouldn’t be focusing so much of your attention on those muscles though. The foundation of your program should be all about compound exercises.
Compound exercises are ones that hit multiple muscle groups. They recruit more muscle groups, are more functional and are the main muscle-building exercises. Compound exercises include movements such as squats, deadlifts, presses, rows and more.
For example, a deadlift recruits nearly every muscle on the backside of the body, as well as the arms and core. In contrast, a biceps curl is an isolation exercise and only hits the biceps and forearms. Compound exercises should be your bread and butter. Want to get stronger? Stick to 80% compound exercises and 20% isolation exercises.
#3 Cardio Can Be A Negative
Cardiovascular exercise is an essential part of any workout routine. It helps improve heart health, increase metabolism and aids in recovery to name just a few pluses. There are countless benefits to performing cardio.
The American College of Sports Medicine recommends at least 150 minutes of moderate cardiovascular exercise per week or at least 60 minutes at a high-intensity pace. Is there such thing as too much cardio? There absolutely is, especially if you want to focus on strength and muscle gains.
Instead of taxing your body with steady-state cardio for 30 minutes per training session, focus your attention on short bursts of high-intensity cardio. High-intensity interval training, or HIIT, helps shred body fat, improve cardio fitness and increase performance in the gym. Stop walking on the treadmill for a half hour and do some sprints. Trade in your sauntering bike ride for a circuit of burpees, jumping jacks and jump ropes. What’s the best part about it? It takes a quarter or less of the time to perform HIIT.
#4 Proper Nutrition Is Key
Would you put regular fuel in a Ferrari or fill it up with supreme?
If your answer is regular fuel, therein lies the problem. If you are looking to sculpt a muscular body, you need to fuel it with supreme.
First, cut the crap out of your diet. Fast food needs to go. Added sugars need to go. Stay away from processed foods. To build muscles, your muscles need to eat. The bigger they get, the more they need. The focus of your nutrition should be on a good balance of protein, carbs and fats.
Proteins are the building blocks of muscle. Aim for one gram of protein per pound of bodyweight per day. If you weigh 200 pounds, try to get 200 grams of protein in your diet. Healthy sources include lean meats, eggs, nuts, seafood and seeds.
Carbs are important as well. They provide us with our instant energy and replenish those stores we have depleted through exercise. Opt for items such as sweet potatoes, quinoa, rice, fruit and veggies.
Fats are also an essential part of the diet. Try to stay away from the unhealthy fats such as the saturated kinds and find foods that are rich in omega-3 and omega-6 fats. Sources such as salmon, avocados, nuts and olive oil will help fuel your muscle growth. Don’t cheat your body. Take time to prepare your meals and see your physique change before your eyes.
#5 You Need Your Rest
There are sayings that you’ll get your sleep when your dead or you don’t need much sleep when you’re young. Ignore them. Sleep is a crucial part of the mix when you’re trying to build your new body. During sleep, energy is restored, the brain is recharged, the muscle-repairing process takes place and, growth hormone, a key ingredient to muscle building, is produced.
Without enough sleep, we are left lagging behind in the recovery process. Think you’re going to be able to lift more weight on a day where you had a terrible night’s sleep? That’s unlikely to happen. Try to get seven to nine hours of sleep per night. If that isn’t possible, try to supplement it with naps during the day, if possible. Young people, middle-aged people and older people all need some good shut-eye. Get yours tonight and every night.
#6 Leave Your Problems Behind
When you work out, you are putting your body under stress. It can also serve as a stress reliever. During training sessions, the exercises stimulate endorphins in your body. This helps improve your mood and can serve as your time away from a stressful lifestyle. While exercising not only stresses your muscles and acts as a stress reliever, bringing extra stress from outside of the gym into your workouts will have negative effects.
When you walk into the gym, try to cut out the outside world. Stresses from your job, family, finances and other areas can be dealt with after your workout. The gym, for many, is a sanctuary where they can get away from the day-to-day stressors to focus on themselves. Keep it that way. Having too much stress in your life can weaken your immune system, result in lower energy levels, increase blood pressure and depress you. Cut down on outside stressors and your body will thank you.
#7 Don’t Overtrain!
Is there such thing as too much time in the gym? Absolutely. Overtraining is one of the biggest mistakes any person can make when trying to get results. Your training program should not be a seven-day program. It should also not involve workouts that take two to three hours. Too often, people believe training for hours and hours makes a difference. It can. Unfortunately, you’re actually hurting yourself if you do too much.
Common overtraining symptoms include a lack of energy, muscle pain and soreness, a depressed immune system, lack of appetite, to name only a few. Limit your workout to a short warm-up, strength training, a short cardio session and a cool-down and stretching period. This should take no longer than 60 to 75 minutes. Don’t train every day. Your body needs rest and overtraining will not help you reach your fitness goals.
#8 Use Proper Form!
Doing an exercise with poor form is a recipe for disaster in the gym. Not only are you at serious risk for injury, but, also, you are not getting the full benefits out of the exercise if you aren’t executing it properly. Before beginning any strength-training regimen, technique should be focus number one.
For example, when doing a squat, focus on pushing the hips back and bending the knees to 90 degrees with the knees staying behind the toes. Your spine should be rigid and your core muscles should be strong throughout the movement. If you’re squatting 300 pounds but only going halfway on your squat, you’re cheating yourself. Take some weight off the bar, work your way to 90 degrees and you will have achieved full range of motion.
By accessing the full range of motion of the exercise, your muscles are placed under more stress, there is more time under tension and you will receive the full desired effects of the exercise. Don’t cheat yourself in the gym. Make your reps count and always be conscious of improving your form.
#9 Your Workouts Should Progress
Day one and day 90 in your training program will look different. Three months into a program, your workouts should not be the same. You should not be lifting the same weight or sticking to the same rep scheme. To increase muscle mass and strength, progressions need to be made. This means changing a variable to increase the challenge.
You can change the amount of sets, reps, time under tension, rest periods, weights used and exercises. On day one if you are lifting 95 pounds on the bench press for 3 sets of 8 reps and 60 seconds of rest in between, you should have it in your head that it can’t be the same in three months.
A good progression could be increasing the amount of weight by five pounds each week for the next six weeks. After week six, change the training approach to five sets of five with two minutes of rest in between. Not only will your strength be increased, but also you will be able to lift more weight with less reps. Get out of your comfort zone and challenge yourself.
#10 Be Patient And Work Hard!
Many are looking for that quick exercise fix. How do you transform your body in one week? There is no way. There are no magic pills. It requires hard work, dedication and a consistent effort. When adhering to a strength training program with proper progressions, it can take a month or two to start seeing strength gains and even longer than that to notice muscle changes.
This is where people get frustrated and they grow impatient. Impatience leads to them either quitting the gym or randomly doing other workouts with no goal in mind. Building the physique you desire won’t happen overnight. Prepare to work hard and be in it for the long haul. Temper your expectations and attack your program with a positive mindset and realistic goals.
Mistakes are made in the gym every day. That’s part of the learning process. If you keep committing these cardinal sins in the gym, you will never achieve the results you desire. Identify your mistakes and fix them. Are you cheating with your reps? Correct it and get the full range of motion. Are you not sticking to a plan? Stop that. Formulate a plan and track your progress.
Are you filling up on fast food?
Change your diet. If you want to make gains, you need to avoid these mistakes.
By Adam Clark, CPT