Building muscle is not complicated. Still, many people will spend hours at the gym every week without seeing their muscles grow as they would like. If you find yourself in this situation, it would be a good idea to take a closer look at your routine, and fix any mistakes that you may be making. If you’ve been doing regular weight training for some time now and you still aren’t seeing results, you may be making one or more of these common mistakes.
1. Not eating correctly
It seems to be common wisdom that one should eat three times a day: breakfast, lunch and dinner. This is not ideal for bodybuilding, however. Anyone serious about building muscle should be eating much more often. Six times a day may sound like a lot, but it’s often what leads to success. That’s not to say that you should be eating more food, necessarily. By reducing the size of your three main meals, you can leave room to add the extra meals into your day. The reason why this works is that it increases your body’s metabolism, and it’s more likely to process those calories, rather than converting them to fat.
Complex carbs and proteins should make up the bulk of the calories you eat. You should be getting 30 grams of protein or more in each of your six meals. Unlike carbs and fat, your body can’t store protein. Anything that’s not used right away will be turned into fat.
Some good protein sources include: lean meats, poultry, fish, cheese, yogurt, milk and egg whites. For complex carbs, go for whole grains, potatoes, brown rice and quinoa. Avoid simple sugars and anything high in salt.
2. Training with the wrong techniques
A very common myth among beginning weightlifters is that more work will get more results. This is just flat out not true. Some exercises are much more effective at building muscle size and strength. To get the most productive use your time at the gym, your main focus should be on compound exercises.
To explain, a compound exercise is one that involves more than one joint. Any exercise that only moves one joint is called an isolation. Several examples of good compound exercises include the bench press, pull up, seated row, and the squat. These exercises work multiple muscle groups and many more individual muscle fibers. This causes muscle growth to be more even and more natural, and it makes for a more effective full-body workout.
You should set a ratio of about three compound exercises to every one isolation exercise you perform. If you wanted to work your biceps, you might do a set of seated rows, bent over rows, wide grip pull ups, and bicep curls. Although the curls work the biceps most intensely, the other exercises will also give them a good workout and they will be more effective and stronger when working with the other muscles.
One hour of intense exercise is enough time for a training session. Any more than that, and you will just be overworking already tired and damaged muscles. Also, you should only need to focus once a week on each muscle group. If you’re doing compound exercises correctly, focusing on one muscle group will moderately exercise the others. Even the pros normally train only for days a week.
3. Not giving the body proper rest
Simply working out does not build muscle. Working out actually damages muscle fibers. The muscles becomes swollen as blood rushes in to repair them. This is why you look extra buff and your muscles look ripped right after you work out. Your muscles will start building themselves back up while you’re resting. This happens over the course of the next few days. If you don’t take time to rest, your muscles won’t get the chance they need to grow.
For this reason, it makes sense to switch up the muscle groups that you work on each day. If you take it easy on your off days, you’ll see better results. Most importantly, make sure to get enough sleep. Sleeping is the body’s chance to heal, rebuild, and recharge itself. Eating plenty of protein before going to bed will ensure that your body has what it needs to recover and rebuild.
4. Not using supplements correctly
Supplements can make a huge difference in the results you see. Generally, you get what you pay for, so always keep that in mind when you buy. Protein, carbs, and creatine are the most important ones to have around. Whey protein shakes are ideal right after a workout. They’re easily digested, and can begin working right away when your body is hungry for protein, and in its prime state to repair muscle fibers.
Apart from workout recovery, supplements should be taken first thing after getting up in the morning and right before going to bed. Supplements are never intended to replace a meal, and a balanced diet should always come first. Supplements are simply a way to achieve added results with the proper workout and diet regimen.