Weightlifting has been a big part of my life ever since I was young. I’m 23 right now, and from all the years that I’ve been under the bar I have come to realize that building muscle is one of the hardest things anyone can do. Some people are genetically gifted and are able to put on muscles on top of muscles, but not me, and for a good part of the population, them either.
So most of us are pretty much on the same boat, and I believe in helping your fellow brother and sister out, so I decided to write up this post on 5 of the most important muscle-building blocks that you’re most likely doing.
Like I mentioned earlier, building muscle is a challenging task, but through all the years of lifting I’ve been able to pick up a thing or two about putting on mass. Believe me I was pretty much doing every one of these road blocks when I first started lifting, for a couple of years actually. But after I started realizing the blocks that were in my way, I began smashing them down one by one and showing them who was boss.
Here are 5 Muscle Building Road Blocks that you should stop doing.
1. Not Getting Stronger
Let me tell you the number one rule when stepping inside the gym. GET STRONGER.
That’s it. Nothing more.
I see too many people especially younger kids going into the gym blindly. They end up performing 20 reps for every exercise and the exercise choices are even worse.
Strength is the efficiency of your central nervous system in recruiting as many motor neurons as it takes to lift a certain weight, in a certain lift.
So in layman’s terms, how well your brain can send signals to your legs, hips, and back muscles in order for you to lift that 500-pound barbell off the floor.
So I’m here to set the record straight, stronger muscles mean bigger muscles. By working on getting stronger, you build a solid foundation to build muscle on top of.
Your body is like a house, if a house has a strong and solid foundation you’ll be able to put as much weight as you want inside the house. Not that you would want to, but you get the analogy.
A strong foundation means more weight that the house or your body can carry.
Get stronger my friend.
I promise you if you squat a measly 185lbs for 5 reps and in 12 weeks you squat 285lbs for 5 reps you’ll be considerably bigger.
2. Not Eating Enough
You don’t eat enough.
Trust me. If you did you’d be bigger.
If you want to get bigger you need to eat like you’re already big (fake it til you make it phenomenon).
If you’re not growing, you’re not consuming enough calories for your body to produce growth. Guys that are naturally thin, the ones that “can never gain any fat or muscle”.
You, my friend, are one lucky son of a bitch.
In order for you to have a lean muscular body all you have to do is have a well-designed lifting program and EAT. Eat 3 times even 5 times as much as you’re eating now.
Of course, your main meals will consist of protein, carbs, and some healthy fats coming from whole foods, not packaged foods. But you also want to get your calories from a homemade mass gainer protein shake. These are protein shakes that are dense in calories and other muscle building nutrients.
Pumpkin Pie Mass Gainer Shake
Pumpkin puree or sweet potato
Vanilla Protein Powder
Notes: Add as much of each ingredient as you need in order to meet your macros.
As you can see from the recipe above, nothing in the mass gainer shake is unhealthy for you. Unlike the mass gainer powders available at GNC or vitamin shoppe. These supplements are loaded with sugar and filler ingredients that aren’t needed in a TRUE mass gainer shake.
Have this shake once or twice a day along with 3 other meals, coupled with a 4 times a week training program and you’ll be on your way to gaining some serious muscle mass.
Also a fool-proof way to make sure you gain mass is by tracking your macronutrients, which is the amount of protein, carbs, and fats you eat in grams.
If you’re someone that isn’t as lucky as those naturally thin bodied people, but you want to gain muscle mass I invite you to definitely track your macros. If your body fat is above 15% you need a fat loss focus diet first. You’re not going to get anywhere with a body that doesn’t have a balanced hormonal environment.
Get close to 10% and then you can start focusing on a muscle building diet.
Start by calculating your maintenance calorie intake and increase it by 300 calories. Eat that many calories for about a month and if you’re not gaining any weight then increase it by another 100 calories.
The reason for this is because we don’t want to increase calories dramatically fast like a 500 calorie increment. Start small and increase if you need too, this way you’re not gaining unnecessary body fat.
3. Not Resting Enough
If you’re 100% serious about your goal and you’re determined to gain as much muscle mass as you possibly can then you need to make sure you rest like a baby.
It doesn’t matter how much work you put in at the gym. If you’re not getting adequate rest then you’re not going to add any muscle.
I would say 6 to 8 hours of sleep. Obviously the more hours the better, but the trick is to get to bed by 10:30.
Cause your body starts producing anabolic hormones like testosterone and growth hormones in stage 3 of the sleep cycle (1). The more hours you can spend in the last stages (3 and 4) the better. This is where you recover from your daily activities. Your body repairs your tissue, rebuilds bone, and strengthens your immune system.
So to clarify, if you want to gain as much muscle mass as you possibly can then you will have to find a way to hit the sack earlier than you do now.
Like I said around 10:30, 11 at the most.
4. Being Too Stressed Out
Stress comes in many different shapes and sizes. For some of us stress can be a good thing, but for most of us the stress that our society puts on us is overwhelming and is a major cause for why most of our population is overweight and depressed.
There are many things you can do to help lower stress and start combating the catabolic characteristics of being “too stressed out.”
The major physiological change that takes places once a stressor is added into your life is an increase of cortisol. This hormone is mostly known as the stress hormone. Its function is to regulate many of the bodies changes during physical or mental stress.
So for example, once cortisol is secreted; suppression of the immune and metabolic system occurs, an increase in blood pressure, production of adrenaline; basically everything you need to survive in any emergency. (These are all characteristics of the fight or flight response which happens when your ass is on the line)
Now the problem here lies with the fact that most of us stay in this catabolic environment 24/7.
The way we live today plays a huge role in how stressed we actually are. Our society has shaped our lives in a way that adds more stresses and takes away more happiness. There are environmental stresses, internal stresses, external stresses; we worry about everything. The smallest thing could happen and most people would freak out. But this isn’t just because of the “little” incident, it’s an accumulation of all the stresses life sends our way.
The reason this is a muscle building block is because of coritsols known affect on muscle.
It destroys it!
Coritsol breaks down muscle tissue and inhibits protein synthesis in the body. So if you’re always stressed from school, work, relationship problems, family problems, money issues; whatever the stress may be, you have to try to find a way to bring yourself back into a place where you’re stress free and happy again.
Whether those actions are drastic or not depends on you.
But the end result should be that you’re happier and less stressed. One of the best methods of reducing stress is meditation but I’ve outlined other methods that you can check out and learn how to get rid of stress once and for all.
5. Not Incorporating Body Weight Exercises
Next time you go to the gym take a gander around and look at what people are doing. Some are on the treadmill, others are on machines, and some are at the free weight area.
Rarely do you see people performing body weight exercises.
Believe it or not, these are more important than lifting with weights. If you can’t perform body weight movements (like a push up) correctly what makes you think that adding a bar with weight to that movement will further advance you to your goal of benching 405lbs.
People, especially beginners need to learn to preform proper body weight movements. They need to be able to execute each movement with proper mechanics before adding weight onto the movement.
Even peeps that have been lifting for some time still don’t include body weight exercises and I have no idea why.
The simple act of moving your body through space triggers more properiorception and also triggers the Mind-Body Connection, which if you’re an athlete will translates into better performance on the field.
Because now you’ve taught your body’s neural pathways to control your muscles more efficiently. Better control of your muscles means better control of your movements.
So next time you’re at the gym give some body weight exercises a chance. I promise you they wont let you down.