You’re in the gym six ― no, seven days every week. You inject extra protein into everything you consume. You lift heavy, you lift hard, but you still aren’t seeing the gains you crave. The fact is, you must be doing something wrong.
Though your goal might to get big and bulky, bodybuilding is a delicate art and precise science that is difficult to master. If you are trying to gain muscle without the aid of a coach and nutritionist, you might have fallen victim to some false information floating around the web.
Here are a few of the biggest mistakes new and old bodybuilders make that limit growth and thwart gains.
Your Lifestyle Isn’t Consistent
Sure, when you’re in the gym, you devote hours to shaping your body exactly like you want it ― but maybe you can’t get to the gym as often as you need to. To get gains fast, you should be in the gym every day, with an active rest day every week to allow your body to recover (see more below).
Additionally, you need steady change in your workouts; though you might have a few favorite lifts you can do with ease, varying the moves you do will make you stronger and bigger much faster. To become more consistent, you need to restructure your priorities and place “making gains” at the very top.
Your Lifestyle Isn’t Healthy
Maybe you do manage to hit the gym every day, but still aren’t seeing gains. In that case, you should look to making your lifestyle outside the gym consistent, as well. Health is much, much more than exercise. Your body responds to every choice you make, from the food you eat to the amount you sleep. Therefore, you cannot expect your body to look fantastic if you aren’t treating it fantastically in return.
From now on, when you want pizza, you should make whole-wheat pasta with veggie sauce; when you want a beer, you should drink a protein shake; when you want a cigarette, you should try vaping. It will be hard at first, but it is truly the only way to see gains.
You Aren’t Training Hard Enough
Going to the gym doesn’t entitle you to gains. Lifting weights doesn’t entitle you to gains. You have to continue making your workouts heavier and harder to see the growth you want. While talking about your 500-pound deadlift might feel good for a while, you’d probably be more satisfied by seeing your gains after properly pulling 400 pounds for multiple reps.
“Going hard” isn’t the same as lifting heavy; rather, it means challenging your body. Often, that does mean adding weight, but sometimes, it means adding cardio to cut fat or trying yoga to gain balance and flexibility. You don’t get gains from curling 20-pounders every day; you get gains from working to your limit.
You Don’t Allow Recovery Time
“No pain, no gain” is a constant refrain in the weight section of the gym, but research shows that isn’t necessarily true. While you should be pushing yourself to lift heavier weights, it isn’t necessary to kill your muscles every day in pursuit of major gains.
In fact, demolishing the same muscles every day prevents them from growing, as it is during the recovery process that more mass is formed. Granting yourself an active rest day ― which is notably not a cheat day ― to stretch, do light cardio, and generally recover will give you a better chance for gains.
Your Expectations Are Too High
When you picture your “finished” physique, do you look like a professional bodybuilder? If so, you might need to rethink your fitness goals. Though it is entirely possible to build such a body, bodybuilders will tell you that it takes more dedication than most amateur weightlifters are willing or able to give.
Those folks have expensive coaches, restrictive diets, and absolutely no social lives; most don’t even have day jobs to worry about. Your gains will likely be much less dramatic and take much longer to achieve ― but that’s no reason to give up.
You can still make serious gains, but only if you have a healthy, consistent lifestyle and train properly. Then maybe you can start thinking about going pro.