Did you find yourself in a situation where you can’t build muscle, even though you are training consistently for months, perhaps even years. Are you hitting the gym week after week but still struggling and lift the same weights? These are the most common mistakes people make when trying to build muscle or gain some quality weight.
Volume training or “pumping”
Doing many sets and reps seems like a good idea for every beginner.You can even gain some weight this way.But after 6 or 7 months the gains stop and you are caught in a circle of doing the same workouts week in week out, without any results.
This is what is actually happening to your body:
Your muscles are getting bigger due to sarcoplasmic hypertrophy.This is something that looks like muscle, but it is not functional muscle – only stored water and carbohydrates into the muscle cell that increase cell’s volume.As your Central Nervous System (the brain) is becoming better at recruiting muscle fibers, you are becoming stronger. Note that this strength increase is not happening because of muscle growth, but only because CNS adaptation.Your body can only get so efficient at storing water and nutrients and this is when you stop growing.
This is why some trainees can gain 10, 15 or maybe 20 lbs the first 6 or 7 months and then they hit a plateau.They can stay at this point of development forever if they don’t change something (either change their training or turn to steroids).
For the average trainee, heavy training and lower volume is much more productive over the long-term than high-volume routines where you do countless sets and focus on “feeling” the muscle you work.If you want to gain muscle, focus on small incremental gain every week or two.This means the bar you lift should be heavier every week or two.
Think of how much will you bench press or squat in a year if you can increase the weight you lift by just 2 pounds every week.That’s a 100 lb increase in a year!! And I doubt you will stay small in you increase your bench or squat by 100 lbs.
Overtraining your CNS
Your central nervous system (CNS) is responsible for recruiting muscle fibers when you lift, move or whatever you do.After an intense workout the muscles can recover in less than 3 days, but the CNS can’t.Most people overtrain their CNS without even knowing how important is for the system to fully recover.And as you get stronger the overtraining of the CNS becomes a bigger issue.
Lets take the back for example.You work your back with heavy deadlifts and rows on Monday and on Tuesday you return to the gym to train your chest.Your pulling muscles are tired but your pushing muscles are not, and yet you find out that your strength is down.That’s because the CNS has not recovered from the Monday’s workout.
Intense cardio, too much cardio, training more than 4 days a week, lack of sleep, doing every exercise to failure and a few other things will all burn your CNS quickly.The bottom line? You need to rest more.If you feel that your strength and and weights are going down, don’t push it – give yourself some time off.
You can get surprised of how little you eat
To grow muscle, you have to consume adequate quantities of food every day. Many trainees just don’t have a clue how much calories they consume.They say they eat a lot, but when the numbers come in – they’re still short of calories.They aim for 250 grams of protein for example, but when they start to weigh the food they’re eating and track it for a few days, end up surprised to see that they were eating just 180 grams.
Another issue is that most people don’t take the time to even understand the most basic principles of nutrition.They don’t know how much protein, carbohydrates and fats they should eat a day.
Muscles are not built in a week
Training 5-6 days a week, never taking a break, and doing many sets and reps are a sure way to overtrain or injure yourself. The only way to build muscle is to progress.Small incremental improvements are the key to building muscle.It’s not today’s workout that gets you there – it’s the next workout that beats today’s workout that gets you one step closer. It may seem like a long time when I said you can increase your main lifts by 100 lbs in a year, but would you rather be stronger and bigger in a year than stay stuck at the same weight and strength levels?
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Keep is simple
Weightlifting is not rocket science, it’s very simple actually.You don’t need some super scientific routine, nor some high-tech equipment.Do your compound exercises, lift heavy, keep adding weight to the bar, eat and sleep.Don’t get obsessive-compulsive about lifting and don’t be afraid to skip a meal or a workout.