If you are doing just one of these six things I guarantee you won’t be able to build quality lean muscle mass No Matter How Hard You Try!
So take the time time to read through them and fix what you’re currently doing so that you can start building muscle NOW!
Lifting Too Heavy (Heavy, Heavy, Heavy)
I have no objection to lifting heavy weights. In fact, I’d go so far as to say that challenging your muscles with heavy weight as part of a periodised routine is a great step towards packing on some lean mass. It tweaks the nervous system and it helps to develop strength, but building strength and building muscle are two separate goals. Sure, they have some things in common, but you need to decide right now which you’re shooting for. If it’s just the strength, then go nuts, but if you want the bulk, you’re going to need to be doing a little more.
Sure, once in a while, you can throw a heavy lifting phase into your program for a few weeks, but to continue to make gains you’ll need to change up your set and rep range on a regular basis, and be sure to focus on maximising tension throughout each set.
The Dirty Bulk
At least in part, I think the myth of the dirty bulk has stuck around for such a long time because it appears to be a justification to eat all the burgers, chocolate and junk in sight and call it part of a training routine. The truth is, though, there is an upward limit to the amount of muscle your body is going to build, so once you’ve optimised your protein intake, accompanying that protein with excess sugar, processed food and unnecessary challenges to your metabolism is not only going to not help the process, it’s going to actively hinder it. I know you need that carbohydrate, but a well-measured portion of high-quality carbs taken at the appropriate time is a world apart from a super-sized thick-shake taken with a large fries and pancakes. It’s not helping you put on muscle, it’s just creating an unnecessary layer of fat, slowing down thyroid activity, promoting conversion of testosterone to oestrogen, and setting your body up to struggle with fat loss in the future.
Stop focussing on what the scales say, and start looking to increase high-quality lean mass with carefully sourced protein and appropriate carbohydrate. The scales just tell you a kilogram value, not how fat you are.
The quality of your training session is important, right up until you render it irrelevant by not feeding your body the protein it needs in the aftermath. Your body needs protein to repair and build muscle, after a training session your body needs to repair and rebuild muscle more than ever. If your body has insufficient protein it doesn’t build muscle, it breaks it down. You probably don’t need me to tell you that this is the exact opposite of what you want.
Feed your body high-quality protein at regular intervals throughout the day. Include a post-workout shake in your daily nutrition regimen.
Insufficient Carbohydrate Intake
Yeah, that’s right, carbs, the evil ones. Have you been shying away from them? Scared they’re going to make you fat? Maybe you need to stop listening to scare-monger conspiracy-theorists and start getting yourself acquainted with the facts. Carbs lower cortisol, which inhibits testosterone if it’s present in the body in excessive quantities, they also restore muscle glycogen, which you’re going to need if you don’t want your training session to suck.
Eat your carbs, just portion them sensibly and according to energy needs.
Are you spending a lot of your gym time shrugging to build your traps and hitting the preacher curls for your bi’s? Are your traps and biceps massive yet? No? Well I can think of two possible reasons for this, and one of them is really, really stupid. Maybe you’re just not shrugging and curling long enough and heavy enough (there, I told you one of them was really stupid). Or, maybe you’d be better off focussing on your big, compound lifts, getting them right and building plenty of muscle throughout your body, THEN looking at the little, isolated muscles you’re so desperate to shape.
The big, compound lifts like deadlift, dip, chin-ups, squats and even bench press have a lot more to offer your all-over muscle levels than curls. They’ll build more muscle, generate more testosterone, challenge those small muscles a lot more, and when you eventually do get to the curls, they’ll see to it that you get the most out of them. Until then you’re just using up minutes in the gym you could be devoting to developing your muscle.
Too Much Coffee
Or (insert name of favourite high-sugar energy drink here). Okay, you want to boost your lifting, sink a shot or two of coffee pre-training. I have no problem with that, it’s going to optimise your cortisol levels for training and see to it you get the most out of your session. Sinking endless cups over the course of the rest of the day, though? Yeah, now your cortisol levels are starting to look a little less pretty, you’re starting to get into the kind of high-stress territory that sees test production squashed, just like I spoke about earlier.
Keep it to coffee, keep it sugar free, ditch the canned crap, and keep your indulgence to a pre-workout pick-me-up. You’ll reap the benefits.
Are you not achieving the results you want? Have always struggled with your nutrition? Training hard but still not losing that stubborn belly fat?
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