So many of us settle for no results from what are often prodigious efforts. We strive, we strain, we lift, we eat and sleep and woke up the next day to do it all again. And despite that, the body we see in the mirror remains unchanged. What’s going on? It’s time to sleep off that wheel and finally see a positive physical reaction to your actions. With that in mind, following are four of the most common reasons you’re not growing, and how to reverse course.
You’re lifting to lightly.
If you’ve been working out consistently for any longer than three months, congratulations: You’re not a beginner anymore. But that also means you need to approach each set like an intermediate or advanced level bodybuilder. That means your sets don’t end when you simply reach a predetermined number of reps. No, they end when you physically cannot continue. What do we mean? Say you’re in the midst of a set of seated dumbbell press. The program you’re following recommends 10 reps – but you reach 10 rather easily. In fact, had you continued, you could’ve gotten 12, 15, even more reps, before you reached momentary muscle failure, the point where you cannot complete another full rep with good form.
The answer isn’t necessarily extending your sets to marathon length to find that failure point. The problem, in fact, began before you started the set when you were choosing your dumbbells at the weight rack: You went too light. Ideally, when you’re following some sort of bodybuilding program that calls for anywhere from 6 to 12 reps in a set, the goal is to use a weight that causes failure on your part right around that target. Each workout, you stick with that weight, knowing that once you master that weight and can do more reps than called for with ease, it’s time to bump it up. That’s progressive resistance – you’re progressively getting stronger and challenging yourself to your limits each time you hit the gym.
You’re not going to the gym often enough
Someone who goes to the gym two or three times a week is doing a good thing for their health and body. But if serious muscle mass gains or getting into the ripped, lean condition is your ultimate aim, two to three times a week will leave you short of the finish line. For you, weight training needs to be a four to five times per week commitment, with even sixth additional cardio if you’re striving to be shredded. The human body seeks homeostasis and will fight stubbornly against extreme changes in muscle size or dropping to extreme low levels of fat. You have to fight back.
Don’t miss workouts. Train hard for 60 to 90 minutes each workout. Eat a clean diet rich in protein in line with your muscle gain or fat loss goal (which is actually one of the biggest reasons people don’t reach their goals. Also, take every advantage of supplementation you can, including protein powders, protein bars, BCAAs, and other vitamins and minerals.
You’re going to the gym too much
There’s a flip side to the point we just made. And that is, overtraining and obsession. It’s a fine line you must walk between doing enough ti dramatically alter your physique, and doing too much, allowing it to become an all-consuming, self-defeating fixation. That’s not healthy, mentally or physically. When it comes to the gym, overtraining is a very phenomenon, marked by constant fatigue, aches and pains that don’t diminish between workouts, difficulty sleeping, elevated resting heart rate, irritability and even depression. It arises when exercise intensity or duration exceeds the ability of your body to recover at rest. And it happens when you go to the gym too much for too long. In this case, quantity is a detriment – if working out with weights five times a week is good, seven is definitely not better.
Watch yourself for signs of overtraining, and if you do exhibit signs, you need to back off. You may even find your job and the rest of your life is so hectic, you can’t train five times a week as suggested. That’s okay – back off to four. Listening to the signs exhibited by your body and health is much more important.
You’re not measuring progress, and making changes when needed
The definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results. When it comes to training, eating and supplementing, if you’re not working it down, the efforts in large part may be going to waste. You need to put yourself in the role of scientist, and not only keep data but analyse it, comparing your actions to your results as far as gains and losses in weight and circumference measurements for your arms, legs, back, chest and waist.
What can you do with that information? React. If you’re not seeing the desired results, you can start to pinpoint the reason by adjusting the variables on the lifting and eating front. And don’t be afraid to make errors along the way, it’s an inherent part of the bodybuilding journey.