Most people that join the gym with the aspiration of growing some muscle are down right delusional when it comes to how much they expect to gain.
Here’s the thing though, can you really blame them? We’re in a world where you’re promised these kind of results everywhere you look. Whether it’s some insta-famous bodybuilder selling you their seemingly magical 12 week program promising you the world, or some supplement company *guaranteeing* you rapid transformations when you jump on their stuff.
*results not actually guaranteed*
The reality is, growing muscle takes time. For the average Joe with intermediate training experience (call it around a year or so decent training), you’re lucky if you’re gaining around 0.5-0.9kg per month! And that’s on a good program and diet! Imagine a shitty one!
The time and effort that goes into actually building muscle is huge. It’s a gritty, tough process, but when you get it right, a super rewarding one as well. There are a few key things you could do RIGHT AWAY to better your chances at success.
So where are most people getting it wrong? Save yourself some time, don’t make the mistakes others have, and check out our top 6 reasons you could be fu*^%ng up your growth.
#1 – You’re too fat
Firstly, lets assume you’re training program is solid and you’re eating plenty of good food. If you’re doing things right SOME of the weight gain while on a muscle building diet WILL BE BODYFAT. This is totally normal! The ratio of fat mass to muscle mass gained will typically depend on how fat you are at the start of the diet. Leaner individuals will gain higher amounts of lean mass and less fat, while fatter individuals get it the other way with more fat mass gained with each kilo!
As a good rule of thumb, aim not to exceed more than 20-22% body fat on your mass phase because beyond that, those extra kilos you’re gaining now are just kilos of body fat you’ll need to work off later! If you’re just starting out, and think you may be on the upper end of that percentage it might be a good idea to put those muscle gain aspirations on the back burner for a little bit and drop some fat first.
#2 – You’re not training hard enough
Incase somebody hasn’t told you already, gaining muscle is HARD. The more you gain, the closer you get to your genetic potential, the HARDER it gets!
One guiding training principle that everyone interested in gaining muscle should be aware of is the principle of PROGRESSIVE OVERLOAD. As you train, you’re body has this amazing ability to adapt to the stress you’ve thrown at it.
Imagine, you put yourself through an awesome chest workout and your pecs go
“What the FUCK was that! Time to get bigger and stronger and make sure I don’t go through that shit anytime again in the future.”
Time goes on, and your body adapts more and more to the training you throw at it. As a result, you then need to step it up, and one-up your bodies adaptive processes through more weight, work and effort. Overtime these adaptations build on each other and BOOM, we build some appreciable muscle tissue!
If you want to grow, understand this principle and each time you step in the gym aim for some kind of progression. It’s things like adding kilos to a movement, adding a rep where you can, or even adding more work sets within a given training week. Whatever the route you’ve chosen, if you want to grow you must progressively overload!
#3 – You’re training split sucks
Ever worked through a training split where you train a single muscle group per session? I know I have! Ever had a training split where you only hit each muscle group directly once per week? Yep, me too!
Unfortunately I’ve wasted a ton of workouts and programs making these mistakes. If you have too, or perhaps your new and don’t want to make the same mistakes, here’s a little advice that will change the hypertrophy game for you moving forward.
The best training programs are designed around hitting each muscle group a minimum two times per week (or more!). This can be achieved through:
- Hitting the same lift again in the week – like hitting the quads through squats on Monday and Thursday
- Training a different lift for the same muscle group – like Squats for quads on Monday and hitting quads again through the Leg Press on Thursday
- Indirectly training a muscle group through other lifts – like Squatting on Monday and Deadlifting on Thursday. Although it’s not another direct hit to the quads like squatting, the quads will contribute in some ways to the lift and get a little stimulus in the process.
No matter the option you pick, splitting up your week to allow a second workout will go a long way to strength and growth in the future.
#4 – You don’t eat enough
New muscle isn’t built from thin air. If you’re looking to lay down some new tissues, you sure as hell better be prepared to have the raw material to do it!
People are usually really surprised when they hear how much you truly have to eat on a consistent basis to grow. Put it this way, if you’re on a massing diet (diet built to help you gain muscle), don’t expect to EVER feel hungry! If you do, you can be sure you’re doing it wrong.
Great place to start for most people kicking off a massing diet is around 40-45 calories per kilogram of lean mass.
So lets say you’re a male with 70kg of lean mass (basically what your muscle and bone weighs), you should start out eating around 3150 calories per day. Do it each and every day, train your ass off and keep an eye on your body weight.
Lift big, eat big bitches!
#5 – You don’t recover
In a world were the ‘hustle’ is rewarded, it’s easy to believe that simply ‘doing more work’ is the key to gaining more muscle and strength. Unfortunately this isn’t the case. Ensuring that you’re giving your body every chance it can to repair and prepare for more training should be a key focus in your overall training plan.
The backbone of your recovery protocol is your sleep. Sleeping is where your bodies primary recovery processes are taking place. New tissue is laid down, anabolic hormones are at their peak, and your bodies restorative processes are in full effect, preparing you for your next session.
If you consider yourself a hard training individual, and you want to get the absolute best out of your training plan, make sure that you get yourself between 7-9 quality hours of sleep each night. Your biceps will thank you for it!
#6 – You don’t listen
Most guys really struggle to listen to the advice of others when it comes to lifting and the gym. It’s like for some reason, by virtue of the fact that we’re male, we’re supposed to be born knowing how to navigate our way around the gym. Spend 10mins in a commercial gym watching how people train and you’ll know that’s not the case.
No matter whether it’s sport, business or education, the best in the world in all endeavors have coaches. If you’re that keen on building some muscle, find yourself a reputable coach or mentor with a proven track record of results and listen to them. Do what they say and don’t fuck with the recipe. Having an objective voice telling you what to do and guide you through your training and nutrition can save you YEARS of wasted workouts guessing on your own.
Obviously there are a ton of reasons why you could not be building muscle, but hopefully but now you’re starting to get the picture. Read through our list above, pick out the roadblock that most applies to you and nail it moving forward.
Want more information on how our team at Performance Personal Training can help you achieve your goals, contact us and we’ll be in touch.