The average person wants to lose weight and gain muscle.
Losing weight is often the most challenging part of following a healthy diet and exercise regimen, but building muscle is also essential. While many people focus on losing weight, increasing muscle mass can be more challenging.
Many people think that if they go to the gym and lift weights, they will automatically pack on slabs of new muscle. However, this is not always the case. More people are familiar with training and then training some more to see gains that are better than what they initially expected.
Why is it so many people struggle to add size? There are five common muscle-building mistakes and proven fixes to help upgrade your body.
1) You Always Train in the Same Rep Range
Spend some time talking to others in the gym. Sets of 10 reps are widespread, and the claim that muscle growth is maximized in a moderate rep range (6-12 reps per set) just seems to stay. Some research supports this theory, but the evidence is not conclusive. There is no evidence that training exclusively in a moderate rep range is best for gaining size. There may be some risks to your gains associated with only training them.
Training at a lower rep range (1-5 reps per set) will increase your strength, making it easier to use heavier weights during moderate rep training. This results in greater tension being placed on the muscles, which can lead to better muscle growth. High reps (15-20 per set) help increase your lactate threshold, which is essential for athletes who want to perform at high levels for long periods.
By delaying the buildup of lactic acid, you can stave off fatigue when training in the “hypertrophy range” (the muscle-building range), thus increasing time under tension. The growth process is best achieved using the full spectrum of rep ranges. Optimum muscle development can be achieved by working with a range of reps encompassing all types. This way, you are effectively providing your muscles with the range of motion they need to build and grow.
Your fix: Periodize your program, so it is built around a moderate repetition protocol, but make sure to include training in lower and higher rep ranges.
2) You Use the Same Exercises Every Day
Many people have a limited number of favorite exercises that are staples in their routine. This is common among humans, as it is natural to stick with what we know and enjoy. While it’s okay to have old stand-bys, they shouldn’t be performed without other movements.
Changing your exercise selection can have a few essential benefits for mass building. For one, it helps to prevent the so-called “repeated bout effect,” whereby muscles become accustomed to the continual use of the same movements, making them increasingly resistant to trauma.
How the body accommodates changes in exercise can have a beneficial impact on muscle growth. More significant structural changes can occur over time by preventing extreme perturbations to muscle fibers, resulting in more gains.
Different types of exercise can alter the recruitment pattern in the muscles, ensuring that all muscle fibers are stimulated.
Some people prefer blondes, others brunettes, and still others redheads. To keep your muscles happy, you must give them variety – so they can always enjoy what they want.
Exercise variety is essential for muscle growth because it allows the muscles to work slightly differently, leading to better results.
Your fix: Employ a diverse selection of exercises throughout your training cycle to maximize muscle growth and adaptation. This can be accomplished by switching around modalities, training angles, planes of movement, and even hand and foot spacing.
3) You Over- or Under-Isolate Your Muscles
There are two main types of people when it comes to exercise: those who believe that you need to do the “big lifts” like squats, presses, and rows to get big muscles, and those who think that working on specific muscle groups is more critical. Which is right?
You need to use both!
The two types of muscle movement are multi-joint exercises and single-joint exercises. Multi-joint activities involve a lot of muscle, which is why they are very effective for building mass. On the other hand, single-joint exercises only use one joint at a time and are therefore more efficient for targeting specific muscles.
One of the main benefits of incorporating both single-joint and multi-joint exercises into your routine is that they can synergistically result in better muscle size and symmetry.
Your fix: To optimize my workout routine, I like to mix multi- and single-joint exercises into my routine. This way, I am working out all of my major muscle groups at once while also focusing on specific areas of strength.
4) You Always Follow the Straight and Narrow (Sets)
Resistance training routines often involve repeating sets of the same exercise with little rest.
There is nothing inherently wrong with following a routine consisting entirely of straight sets. Still, it is also beneficial to mix things up by incorporating specialized techniques into your routine.
Supersets, drop sets, and heavy negatives can be excellent additions to a mass-building routine. These strategies allow you to work muscles in a fatigued state, which will help them grow more extensive and more robust. These strategies help to induce more significant metabolic stress and structural perturbations that can help your muscles grow faster. They are particularly effective for advanced lifters who need to “shock” their body to spur more significant growth.
Your fix: Supersets and drop sets are two advanced training techniques used in a routine to increase muscle protein synthesis. By pairing resistance exercise with anabolic agents, such as amino acids or glucose, you induce a more significant response than either exercise alone. These techniques should be used sparingly and only if they are part of a periodized program that includes other measures to ensure proper adaptation.
5) You Do Too Much Cardio
Many people who lift weights hope to increase muscle development while reducing body fat levels. To achieve this, cardio is often increased while intense resistance training sessions; however, adding some aerobic training and a muscle-building routine isn’t always bad. If done correctly, overdoing it can lead to negative results.
Resistance training and aerobic exercise can have opposite effects on the body, with aerobic exercise promoting catabolic processes (meaning muscle wasting) and resistance training promoting anabolic processes (representing muscle growth).
There is evidence that concurrent training can interfere with anabolism, leading to muscle growth loss. Additionally, adding extensive cardio to an already demanding resistance-training program may hasten the onset of overtraining, which will also halt muscle growth.
Your fix: It is essential to keep your cardio moderate to maximize muscle growth. This varies from person to person, so a general guideline is to limit steady state cardio sessions to no more than about three or four per week, lasting 30-40 minutes.
Additionally, you could do 2-3 high-intensity interval training workouts per week, but be mindful of any signs of overtraining.