Building muscle is no cake walk. It does not matter if you are a skinny guy or very strong. There are a lot of reasons behind not gaining muscles. So if you are stuck without any progress in the muscle building process, you need to stop and introspect. Building muscle might look like lifting those heavy weights but let us admit, there is so much more to gaining muscles than just lifting weights.
It is not an easy thing to do and you need to train your body rigorously before you can build muscles. But sometimes, even if you put your best foot forward, you do not see the results. This can be very painful.
So, what are the factors that are stopping your muscles from growing? Read through to find out more.
Not doing drop sets
Arnold refers to drop sets segment of training as an exercise for the pump. To do drop sets, grab hold of any dumbbells you can find. After that set, take a different pair of dumbbells around 10 lbs lighter and do the reps to failure. Repeat this drop for another set and you are through. Take a short break and resume this cycle. These three mini sets produce a constant tension in your muscles which induce hypertrophic mechanisms within the muscle. Include these in your everyday workouts to maximise the muscle growth factor.
Addicted to gym
If you think that spending long hours in the gym is going to do you (or your muscles) a favour, you are wrong. As an old Indian saying goes, “Ati Sarvatra Varjayet,” which means too much of anything is bad. You will have a tough time recovering from your workouts if you spend too much time in the gym. This will only add to your stress levels. If you utilise time properly, a 45-60 minute session with short breaks is enough. Focus on the work that you are doing in the gym but do not overdo it.
Not putting “recovery” on your priority list
Even if you have worked out perfectly till now, if you are not giving enough time for recovery, all your hard work will go in vain. It is a thumb rule that after an extensive workout, you should give some recovery time which the muscles will utilise to grow. How do you recover?
First things first, go and get some sleep. Sleep is an important element for muscle growth and recovery. It increases your energy levels and helps in proper functioning of hormones.
Secondly, diet plays an important role in recovery. Eat the right way to reap the most benefits.
Monotonicity of workouts
It is good to fall in love with workouts, but falling in love with the same workout? Well, think about it. Doing the same workout because it is your favourite or you want to focus on only one part of the body is not a good idea. This might lead to a decline in hypertrophy.
When you perform a particular exercise your muscles will work hard and they would need time to recover. If you end up repeating the workout, your muscles will not get sufficient time to recover and they shrink in this process. Make a perfect schedule to avoid this.
Not including compound movements in the workout regime
While you are still fresh and not tired, focus on good exercises like lateral raises, curls, front raises, and calf raises. Do not push them to the end or perform them at the wrong time. Make sure to include squats, cleans, deadlifts, pulls and presses in the first part of your workout. Save the easier ones for the last part so that you would also get enough time to relax.
Not finishing the reps
We can commonly see quarter and half reps. Partial work will only give partial results, or worse, no results at all. Perform the exercise to the complete extent. It is always better to do full reps with lighter weights than start off with larger weights and leave it half way through. Full reps will help you maximise the results. You can use half reps as warm up for the main lifts, but do not depend on the half reps alone.
Taking too much stress
Having a lot of stress in your life can severely damage the chemistry of your body and your overall health. Do not let your work or relationships build too much negative pressure. Drink plenty of water and eat healthily. Also, getting 7-8 hours of sleep at a stretch is very important for your body, especially because you are training hard. Practice meditation. Keep your stress levels under control and watch the magic happen.
Doing too much cardio
If you are aiming at building muscles, see to it that cardio does not dominate your workout regime. Your first priority should be the workouts that build your muscles. It is good to add a few cardio sessions here and there if you are recovering quickly, but do not do it at the expense of your recovery and muscle building.
Following a program withouta structure
Random workouts are strictly discouraged. Make a plan and stick to it. There is no better way to increase the size of your muscles or improve your strength than following a proper schedule. Vague training might make you feel strong initially, but it will not work if you are targeting results.
Not tracking the progress
Keeping track of your progress is as important as the program itself. How would you know what you have performed without keeping track of it? To have the maximum muscle hypertrophy, take a note of all the reps that you had performed, the workouts that you had done, the weights you had used, the tempo of your exercises and the time elapsed between each set. This will not only track your improvement but also your energy levels.
If you are a beginner, you might get a little impatient. Understand that growth takes time and it needs consistent hard work and patience throughout the journey. Endurance will take you to places and you would see changes that you had not dreamt of.
Understand these overlooked aspects of building muscles and you will be on your way to the perfect body in no time.