No one likes slow gains. Feeling like your time in the gym is being wasted isn't exactly good for motivation.
I know many of you are frustrated. You plan your training, plan your meals, plan your supplements yet can't seem to make any decent progress. A good percentage of lifters that go through this madness eventually give up.
This article is for you. I am going to give you some tips to help turn things around. Let's set aside your "no gainer" days, and turn you into a huge gainer.
Tip #1 - Maximize Every Set
Are you focused on progressive overload? Do you push every set for as many reps as possible? Many lifters don't.
Here's my advice: push every set for as many reps as possible, stopping that set when you feel like you might fail on the next rep. Add weight when it makes sense.
By doing this you will be maximizing every set of every workout, and improving your gains.
Tip #2 - Build Head to Toe Strength
Muscle building isn't just about raw, brute strength, but it does require you to get a lot stronger than you are now. Head to the gym with the following goal: to make every body part from head to toe as strong as possible over the next several years.
Placing fancy workout protocols or advanced training techniques before strength additions in the weight room is a good way to fail. These tools have their place, but only when you are using them as a method of building extra strength. For example, supersets alone won't do much if you are not trying to get stronger while using them.
The goal of getting every muscle group as strong as possible, in concert with hypertrophy-style rep ranges and workouts, will help you maximize the muscle building process.
Tip #3 - Embrace Challenging Exercises
Lifters who avoid the most challenging exercises develop a body that looks like they avoid the most challenging exercises. It's really as simple as that.
It's not that you need to do every compound exercise under the sun, but rather you need to have a fair amount of quality compound exercises at the center of your program. Movements like squats, deadlifts, bench press, barbell rows, military press, stiff leg deadlifts, dips, pull ups, etc.
When you choose the best tools for a job, you make completing the job much easier. This applies to building a house as well as muscle building.
Embrace challenging exercises and you will build a body that looks like it was challenged.
Tip #4 - Start a New Lifestyle, Not a New Program
Lifting is a lifestyle, not an 8 week program. If you think you can build a great chest in 8 weeks and then get on with the rest of your life, you are sadly mistaken.
Even if you could build the world's most amazing chest and biceps in 8 weeks, and strip away body fat to reveal six pack abs, it would still require a lifetime of work and proper dieting to maintain them. Unfortunately, the premise itself is a fantasy: no one builds a great chest or biceps in 8 weeks.
Instead of approaching weight training as an 8 week program, enter it as a lifestyle change. Understand - and embrace - the reality that to reach and maintain your goals, you will be at this the rest of your life.
Tip #5 - Stop Missing Workouts
Seems like an obvious tip, but you would be shocked by how many lifters:
- Miss workouts every week, or every other week.
- Never train longer than 6 months without taking an extended amount of time off.
You can't build an impressive amount of muscle mass if you take extended layoffs with regular frequency. You also won't be maximizing progress if you manage to miss a substantial percentage of your scheduled sessions.
If you find yourself missing too many workouts, maybe it's time to train less frequently.
Tip #6 - Stop Changing Workouts
This is a huge problem for many lifters. They find a new and exciting program, and just have to try it.
Understand this...there are no magic workouts. Different styles of training exist for different experience levels and age ranges. If you remain patient, eat right, get a lot stronger and stop missing workouts, nearly any reputable program will help you build muscle.
Seek out a program that suits your needs, age and experience levels. You will likely find many programs to choose from. It is best to select a program that motivates you to hit the gym, rather than immediately gravitating towards the one filled with all the bells and whistles.
If you find a program isn't to your liking, consider evolving it to fit your needs. If you spend your time trying to find a program that fits you perfectly, it may take many months or even years. If you learn from a program and try to analyze and change what you don't like, or what doesn't fit your needs, you will be working towards creating a unique system of training that you enjoy.
Tip #7 - Eat to Maximize Muscle, Based on Experience
Natural lifters experience diminishing gains over time. First year gains should be impressive, with second year gains being about half of first year results. Progress continues to be cut in half each year thereafter. The take home point is this...if you ARE experiencing quality gains, you want to bulk less aggressively each year moving forward.
A good plan for your first year of training is to eat about 500 calories over your maintenance level. This should translate to about 1.5 to 2 pounds of weight gain max per month. In a perfect world, 75% of this should be muscle gain; fat gain will be minimal.
During year two aim for one pound of weight gain per month. You may need to drop calories to 300-350 above maintenance to hit this mark.
After year two it's best to bulk with only about 200-300 calories over maintenance. Gains will be slow, and there is no point in adopting an aggressive bulk. Once you have built up a nice muscular base, eat mostly clean, hit your daily calories, and understand that gains after this point can't be rushed with massive amounts of food.
Final "Huge Gainer" Recap
- Maximize every set of every workout
- Make every muscle group from head to toe as strong as possible.
- Don't avoid challenging exercises, embrace them.
- Approach muscle building as a new lifestyle, not a short term program.
- Get your back side to the gym and stop missing workouts.
- Quit jumping from program to program, chasing after magic workout systems.
- Eat to maximize muscle mass and minimize fat, based on experience levels.