Trying to add lean muscle can be one of the most challenging fitness goals to achieve. Many people fail to realise it can take a lot of time and dedication, which means you need to set realistic expectations and understand that this isn’t going to happen overnight. There are also a few mistakes that I’ve come across several times with new clients. These are things that they have or haven’t been doing prior to starting training with me that are crucial in order to achieve this type of goal:
1. Poor programme design – any programme for any goal should show progression and periodization. You should know what you’re training, when you’re going to train and how you’re going to train. Any programme designed around strength and muscular hypertrophy (the term used for muscle fibre growth) should include progressive overload. Most importantly – STICK TO YOUR PROGRAMME.
2. Poor nutrition – so many people think that because they hammer the gym so much, nutrition doesn’t matter. Not true. I encourage my clients to think of nutrition as one of the main factors, with exercise and gym work there to build on a good quality diet. Make sure your nutrition matches your goals and spend just as much time on meal planning as you do planning your workouts. Reaching your goals is 60% nutrition and 50% exercise (you should always give 110%)
3. Not enough compound exercises – compound exercises is the term we use to describe any exercise that uses more than one muscle group. These are your deadlifts, pull ups, squats, press ups etc. Hitting more than one muscle is one of the most effective ways to stimulate an increase in the size of muscle fibres.
4. Poor form – If your letting your weight control you then you’re doing it wrong. You control the weight. If you think you might be doing an exercise wrong ask a professional. You should be lifting the weight, pausing at the end of the lift, then lowering it down at a slower controlled pace. Another effective way to stimulate muscle fibres.
5. Not enough balance between push and pull exercises – you need to ensure you programme contains a variety of push and pull exercises. Too many people focus on popular ‘pushing’ movements (i.e. chest press) and forget about pulling movements (e.g. seated row) You need a good balance to ensure all muscle groups are stimulated.
6. Skipping leg day – probably everyone has at some point skipped leg day, or avoided it altogether. Leg day is essential not only to balance out your upper body with your lower (when did you last see a tree with a tiny trunk and huge branches?) but leg exercises also rely heavily on the core muscles. Finally working out your legs is one of the best triggers of the growth hormone testosterone.
This article is part of my muscle building series. Check out the second part of this post HERE for even more reasons you might not be adding muscle and what you can do about it!
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