Most people start their fitness journey enthusiastically. They get serious about their training and their diet and seem to make muscle gains with each consecutive workout session. They quickly pack on size, their strength is off the charts and it doesn’t take long to see the hard-earned results in the mirror. This gets them hooked and they keep coming back to the gym for more thinking they’ll always get better results.
However, after a couple of years down the fitness road, you find yourself unable to achieve the same rate of muscle growth and it seems as if what took you just weeks to build a certain amount of muscle mass, now takes you months or even years.
You see that your body is not responding to the same stimulus as it used to. You grind day in and day out just to maintain what you already have, let alone gain more.
So, you might be asking what happened. Nothing happened. That’s the problem. To adapt to a mechanical stress, your muscles need to change. To perfect something, the stress has to change often. It’s very likely you have not given you training routine a serious evaluation in a while and chances are that therein lies the problem.
What follows is a list of the top 6 mistakes experienced lifters make after they’ve acquired a few years of lifting experience. What’s so special about them? They’re extremely easy to correct. Get ready, they’re pretty amazing.
1. You’re not changing your training program
I don’t know a single guy who hasn’t made this mistake. You’ve been training for years and suddenly come across an interesting set of exercises for the muscle groups you want to develop. They seem like they might bring some additional benefit to your program and they might also feel good doing them.
Well, that’s where you’re wrong. Sure, you might be getting at least some benefit, but don’t expect on experiencing those sweet noob gains again or buying the whole “game-changing workout” lie. It won’t happen, especially if you don’t increase the load and keep exercising with the same weight every session.
You should put your ego aside and stop being stubborn. I know it’s difficult letting go of your old routine. Especially if you’ve made huge gains with it. I propose an alternative 5-step plan that will bust the plateaus you’ve encountered on your old routine and put you on the road to new gains:
The first step is picking which exercises in your old program you like the least
• The second step is picking an alternative exercise for the same muscle or muscle group
• The third step is practicing the exercise you picked using a low weight, perfecting your execution form and then slowly start increasing it.
• The fourth step is replacing the old exercise with the alternative.
• The fifth step is continuing with your old program by incorporating a new alternative exercise every session.
After a while, you’ll end up with a whole new set of exercises. Of course, you can switch all your old exercises with the new ones at once. It all depends on how much you can’t let go of your old program.
2. You’re not training your legs
We’ve all seen the “Chicken legs syndrome”. And for those who have it, it looks pretty embarrassing. If you have it, shame on you. A piece of wisdom: not training half of your body can have a tremendous suppressing effect on the amount of testosterone that is released while you train. Seems logical, doesn’t it?
Well, that logic escapes a lot of people. When you don’t train your legs, you’re basically cutting yourself out of a lot of opportunities for new muscle growth. Squats aren’t even a prerequisite. You can substitute them with machines where you can do leg presses, leg curls or leg extensions. These are safer for you joints and can do wonders for your muscles. Start with a light weight and slowly move up. Instead of having a rest day, train your legs. You’ll give them a good workout and up your testosterone levels while simultaneously resting your upper body.
3. You should focus on doing quality reps, don’t focus on quantity
This is also a common mistake a lot of lifters make. Instead of focusing on doing their repetitions with a good form and really feeling the muscle, they focus on squeezing as many reps as possible with a sloppy form at first and a horrible form later in the set.
All because their routine says that they should do that exercise for a certain amount of reps and anything less than that means your workout was a failure. That’s not the right mindset to have about your workout program.
Doing everything you can to reach the prescribed reps almost always destroys your form and could lead to serious injuries or strains. And it also makes you look silly. Leave your ego aside when you enter the gym, use smaller weights, execute with good form and keep the tension on the muscle consistent and constant throughout the entire set. This enables your body to recruit a bigger number of muscle fibers and provides a better overall muscle development.
4. You don’t eat right, but not the way you think
We’re not saying you’re eating too many cheat meals, we’re saying you’re simply not eating enough. The amount of calories and macronutrients you should consume daily should match the intensity of the training you are doing.
If you are sure you are eating whole clean foods with a fine macronutrient ratio then it’s very likely you’re simply not eating enough. Here’s a small checklist for you to check out:
• The protein amount you should be aiming for on a daily basis if you want to get good results is 0.8 grams of protein per pound of bodyweight.
• You should switch to complex carbs like oats and brown rice which can supply you with a slow-releasing energy and prevent insulin spikes.
• You shouldn’t avoid good fats. They are excellent for boosting your testosterone levels. Eggs, avocados, macadamias are excellent choices.
If you follow these guidelines and still not seeing the results you desire even though you are training fiercely, then it’s time to increase your calorie intake.
5. Focus on the negative part of the movement
If you have a hard time getting “pumps” in the gym lately, it’s likely you haven’t tried doing negatives. You may not only change the exercises in your routine but the way you execute them also. Negative reps are an excellent way to force your muscle to recruit all the remaining muscle fibers and put your muscles to a stimulus they’ve never experienced before.
Negative reps basically consist of slow execution of the eccentric part of the exercise movement. You can apply to them to any exercise you like, but for this article, we’ll choose the biceps curls. You may wanna start with a lower weight when doing negatives. They’ll make you humble.
• Start by doing a standard biceps curl and pause at the top of the lift.
• Now, lower the weight slowly to its starting position, while resisting gravity.
• You’re done.
The reason why negatives work is because training for size requires that you keep the muscle under a constant tension, meaning you increase the time under tension (TUT), which is an important parameter in measuring progress in bodybuilding.
6. You’re fond of booze
Who doesn’t like a nice glass of scotch or a bottle of cold beer? Who doesn’t want to party? But too much of it can seriously derail your progress, and weight gain is the least of problems. Consuming large amounts of alcohol can tremendously lower your testosterone levels. Especially beer.
One of the essential ingredients of beer is hops. It might seem like natural healthy source, but they actually wreak havoc on your testosterone levels. The reason for that is that hops are highly estrogenic. One study confirmed that they were so bad that the women who harvested them and had to pick them up with their hands actually experienced menstrual problems.
Consuming alcohol in big quantities has been correlated to boosting the activity of aromatization which is the process in which testosterone is converted into estrogen. That’s a thing you should most definitely avoid. It will destroy your entire hormonal balance and will prevent you from making even the slightest muscle gains.
If you’ve been unable to bust through your plateaus for the past couple of months, it’s likely you’ve been making the aforementioned mistakes and have stopped your progress altogether. They are very common even though you may think otherwise. It’s very easy to get comfortable with your training program and miss out on some fantastic muscle growth opportunities. It’s not just your training and nutrition that you will need to change, but this also requires that you change your lifestyle too. Incorporate these tips for about three months and we guarantee you’ll definitely see excellent results.