Have you been working out but just can’t seem to make those muscles grow the way you want them to? Maybe you are seeing some slight definition but the growth just isn’t there. You are considering throwing in the towel and quitting. Maybe you’re just destined to be skinny and not buff.
Well fear not. It’s not just you, it just may take some more serious changes.
First off we have this concept when it comes to lifting weights that we have to lift the heaviest amount of weight possible in order to gain muscles. So we pile on the plates, load up the bar, and find ourselves pumping out a couple reps. And they are either half-assed reps at that, or our form is completely off.
If you want to build muscles it’s not about doing the traditional things.
The key to lifting is making sure your muscles are working hard. That they are under a lot of tension for a good amount of time. If you perform bench presses with 135 pounds and go to failure with 4 sets. You are doing way more for your muscle growth than if you get 1 rep of 225 up. Sure you had to exert some extra strength to get that 225 up but it doesn’t have any long lasting effect or a constant strain on those muscles. So get out of the mindset that you have to lift as heavy as possible.
Use less weights, but lift longer with that weight, so more sets, more reps, and slow down. Make sure your form is on point and that you are not speeding through the reps.
Another key element is making sure your rest times don’t outweigh your lift time (pun intended). It’s so easy to get lost on our phones or talking to someone on our rest. But I challenge you to start setting your timer on your phone or on your watch and limiting yourself to rests that are 45 seconds or less. You’ll find this to be much more challenging. Remember it’s that time under tension that really matters here.
The next thing you’ve got to make sure you are not neglecting is your nutrition intake. I hate when I hear people tell me they are bulking, or they are cutting. What this translates to me is, “I don’t want to eat right all the time.” That’s literally what it is. “I’m bulking” is a translation of: “Please excuse the fact that I’m downing a ton of unhealthy food every day.”
You want to grow your muscles? You have to feed them properly. You have to give them what they need, and loading up on empty calories with no nutritional value is not the thing you need to be doing, because that’s not aiding the growth of muscle.
Focus on eating right every day, and focus on eating the right amount. Enough can’t be said about this.
Finding that right amount can take work. It’s not easy finding the magical number that you need in order to get the most out of your muscle gains. Start out using a calorie tracker as a baseline. Plug in your information and go from there. You may need to adjust it and that’s okay, that’s part of it. If you are lifting hard, eating right and still not gaining, then increase your calorie intake by a couple hundred calories.
Fitness isn’t a one size fits all for everyone so it takes some time to really discover what works best for you. Don’t be afraid of this.
Something else that keeps us from gaining muscle in the gym is not working hard. If you’ve been going to the gym for some time you may be in a routine. Maybe you do the same exercises every day. Maybe you do 5×5’s every day. Maybe you do drop sets every day. If you truly want to grow muscles and break out of your skinny body, you’ve got to do what is uncomfortable. That means you do the exercises that you really hate, and change things up so that you are having to work really hard. So hard that you hate going to the gym. I There are many days when it’s not fun, when it’s not enjoyable or motivating or any other bull crap pie in the sky feeling that you think you should have every day.
I get it the gym is my 2nd home is it feels like, and I want to enjoy it. I want to have fun there, but I know that if there isn’t a little bit sense of dread for the workout that I’m about to do then I’m not working out hard enough.
That may sound harsh but in truth how much you hate your workout is a good measurement for if you are working out hard enough.
Gaining muscle takes work, that’s what makes it valuable. Because of the effort that has to be put into it. So don’t give up when it’s hard, because it’s going to be hard most of the time. You are responsible for you.
So don’t sell yourself short. Work hard. You’ve got this.
When it comes to workouts we typically view them as only taking place in the gym. And let’s be real, if you are wanting to gain lean muscle you do need to be working out in the gym, but there are a lot of things you can do outside the gym to help you get strong. You can find more on this in this week’s podcast.
Push-ups. Yes this may seem like a no-brainer, but push-ups can do so much for you, working your biceps as well as your chest muscles. Varying how wide your hands are can even work out your triceps, as well as bring more focus to your chest. Don’t be afraid if you can’t do a ton. Do as many as you can, take a break, and then do more. Set a timer for two to three minutes and do as many as you can during this time.
Sprints. While this may seem weird to build lean muscle, it helps develop sudden bursts of power, and you can do them in your backyard, a side-walk or wherever there is a little open space. Again this isn’t something you have to do for long. Five minutes a day will go a long way.
Crunches. Don’t feel you have to do an insane amount, but set a timer for 5 minutes and pump out as many as you can, rest, and go again.
Don’t be afraid to get outside the box and do some extra workouts when you are outside the gym. A little bit every day goes a very long way.