Eat Right, Train Right and You Can Have it All
A couple days ago I posted the first 5 reasons you are not gaining weight. Here are 5 more reasons you are not gaining weight. Check out the first article if you missed it: 10 Reasons You Are Not Gaining Weight Part 1
Peep these second 5 five items in my list of 10 possible ways you could be sabotaging your muscle building plan.
Too Much Cardio
To lose fat while maintaining muscle, you’ll want to stick to 2, thirty minute HIIT sessions; and 1, forty five minute endurance session in a week. Adding HIIT like that will help you to elevate your metabolism, which increases fat loss, and will keep cortisol levels in check to preserve existing muscle mass. The HIIT should be a max sprint for an interval of 30-60 seconds, followed by a light jog interval for twice the length of your sprint interval (60-120 seconds).
However, to gain muscle at all costs, especially if you are a skinny guy or a hard gainers, you’ll want to eliminate most of your cardio. You should perform at most 1 HIIT session for 20 minutes and 1 jogging session for 30 minutes, or trade your HIIT session for one additional session of light jogging. Any more than that and you risk burning too many calories, tempting over training, and jeopardizing recovery.
Too Much Weight Lifting
The best muscle growth strategy is an intelligent combination of frequency, hypertrophy, volume, and recovery.
- Frequency: bodybuilders are known for training muscle groups once per week with 20+ sets, but if you dial back those sets and train each muscle group 2 to 3 times each week, then you’re priming your body for 2 to 3 times as much growth, within reason.
- Hypertrophy: 5 rep sets can promote great strength and muscle gains, but 10-12 rep sets promote optimal muscle growth. The proper rep tempo should be used to maximize hypertrophy – 40X1 (down/pause/up/pause) is known to be best.
- Volume: 20 sets per muscle group can shock your body into growth, but 6-9 sets are all that’s needed to fully stimulate even the larger muscle groups.
- Recovery: a muscle can be trained every 48 hours, but sometimes 72 hours is best for maximum recovery. For each exercise, when training specifically for muscle growth, 60 seconds rest between sets is all you really need.
Put it all together. The best muscle building routine I have used for myself or my clients is a 7 day upper/lower body split with the 3rd, 6th, and 7th days off for either light cardio or recovery. This routine uses a rep range from 5-12 on most exercises, and a 40X1 tempo is recommended. Werewolf Training is designed around these ideas.
Static stretching before weight lifting has proven to negatively impact strength, which would have an adverse effect on muscle gains. Dynamic and ballistic stretching after a light warm-up has shown to positively impact strength and decrease the risk of injury, both of which facilitate muscle gains. Static stretching after a workout will help recovery and flexibility.
Foam rolling and massage therapy are also great ways to stretch and improve recovery.
Using a Stale Routine
Your body does adapt over time. You will eventually plateau if you use the same routine forever. Your best bet is to change your routine every 8-10 weeks. I personally like to design 3-4 week routines and repeat them 3 times before switching to something new. Werewolf Training uses this strategy.
Keeping a workout log will help you to identify plateaus and set-backs. You may have trouble remembering every rep of every set for every workout indefinitely. A workout log is crucial to researching your own progress over the weeks, months, and years.
Avoiding the Best Exercises
You need to use the top compound exercises for each muscle group. If you don’t, you are sacrificing loads of potential growth. Look to include the following exercises into your daily weightlifting routine:
- back squats – legs (quads)
- deadlifts – legs (hamstrings)
- barbell bench press – chest, tris
- barbell rows – back (horizontal), bis
- pull ups / chin ups – back (vertical), bis
- overhead press – shoulders
- weighted dips – triceps
Using these exercises will stimulate growth hormone release and will target several muscle groups at once, both of which will force more muscle growth than isolation exercises and machines.
Hit every major muscle group with equal effort to build impressive full-body musculature. This will balance out your physique aesthetically, and will prevent overuse and imbalance injuries. Major muscle groups are considered legs, chest, and back.
Now I’ve given you 10 total mistake to avoid when trying to build muscle. You have no excuses. Eat right, train right, live right, and recover right. In no time flat you will gain the extra muscle you’ve been looking for!