You read all the magazines, buy all the best supplements and construct workout plans so complicated they make Jay Cutler and Derek Poundstone look like they have no clue what they are doing.
But your results suck!
No matter how hard you try, no matter what you eat, nothing changes. You feel like a hardgainer with the worst genetics in the history of poor genetics. The only thing you have in common with Derek Poundstone and Jay Cutler is that each of you sweat while pumping iron.
So what's wrong?
I am going to tell you exactly what's wrong. I am going to give you 4 tips that will turn things around.
If you listen to my advice you WILL get big and strong. If you ignore my advice you will remain small and weak. It's your choice.
The following tips work. I know because I have used them myself to make rapid progress.
Reason #1 - You Obsess About Your Abs
If you want to get big and strong as quickly as possible you need to eat, and eat big. Trying to maintain shredded abs while gaining 30 pounds of muscle is a complete waste of time, unless you are genetically gifted. Undereating is a huge mistake; one that nearly every gym rat makes. Nothing will slow your progress faster than trying to eat like a 7 year old school girl.
Trust me, you won't turn into a sumo wrestler overnight. But you will gain some bodyfat. The best bodybuilders in the world, natural and otherwise, add at least 20 to 30 pounds of weight during their off-season. They realize that to look good you must have periods of time where you put on your sweat clothes, hide your abs, and eat as big as you train.
Are you willing to gain 10 to (gasp!) 20 pounds of fat over the next several years while getting big and strong? If not, you'll likely see very little in the way of gains.
Reason #2 - You Do Not Squat Or Deadlift
If you want to remain small and weak, ignore squats and deadlifts. Don't believe me? Think I am some ignorant meathead filled with bravado? Fine. Don't take my word for it. Check out the natural bodybuilder profiles on Muscle & Strength. Most of the biggest (natural) bodies in the world list squats and deadlift in their top 3 exercises.
There are no two better lifts for building muscle and strength, period.
Continue to focus on Smith machine squats, leg extensions or light weight leg presses and I guarantee your legs with remain puny and frail. Add squats to the mix and it's like hitting your body with gamma radiation. Your legs, and for that matter the rest of your body, is forced to respond and grow.
The same goes for deadlifts. The deadlift is a raw, primal, mass and strength exercise that will turn you into a freak. Stop using the lat pull down as your main "back building lift" and start ripping heavy barbells off the ground.
Reason #3 - You Train Like You Are On Steroids
In case you haven't figured it out yet, there is a reason bodybuilders and powerlifters take steroids. Steroids not only allow lifters to get unnaturally big and strong, but they also allow you to recover much more quickly. In addition, athletes who take steroids gain a greater benefit from performing additional volume. A battery of frequent and intense contractions help the steroid-user to stimulate receptors and ignite new gains.
You, on the other hand, do not take steroids. You are not training with superhuman recovery abilities, nor will you benefit from a 5-6 day split with a crazy volume of sets. You are not trying to re-ignite desensitized receptors because...wait for it...your receptors are normal because you don't take steroids.
Most prominent coaches and authors from John Christy to Mark Rippetoe to Jim Wendler to Stuart McRobert to Casey Butt to Louie Simmons to Dante Trudell (Doggcrapp training) have you lifting no more than 3-4 times per week. Want to ignore them and play a big game of pretend? Go right ahead, but you will be wasting your time and sweat.
If you can't blast your body into oblivion with only 3-4 hours of heavy training a week, you have no business training more frequently with a greater amount of volume.
Reason #4 - You Don't Obsess About Progression
Want to know a magic secret? Progression, or the adding of weight over time, is the fuel that drives muscle and strength building. You could use pretty much any workout system in the world - no matter how poorly structured or devised - and if you're adding weight to the bar, you will get bigger and stronger.
How do you progress? Simple. Push yourself during every workout for more reps, and add weight when you hit your upper rep limit for that set. If you are performing bench presses with 200 pounds and a set calls for 5 to 10 reps, add weight when you can perform 10 reps.
Remember that pesky list of trainers and authors I mentioned in the previous section? Yes, you do. They all preach progression of weight. Jim Wendler's 5/3/1 training system has a structured system of progression that helps you rapidly build strength. Doggcrapp training (DC training), a bodybuilding workout system, requires you to push yourself on every set for more reps.
The best way to stall and limit your strength and muscle gains is by using the same weight week in and week out.
But wait, I know what you're going to say. Somewhere along the line you've heard the following from a big, beefy bodybuilder: "I don't train heavy." Guess what...heavy is a relative term. When a mass monster states they aren't lifting "heavy", it means that instead of squatting 450 for 5 reps, they are squatting 375 for 12 reps.
No matter how you slice and dice it, you must get stronger to get bigger.