You might have put in a lot of time and hard work in trying to build muscles but you’re still not seeing the results you want. No need to stress over it, though. What you do before, during, and after a workout can either negate your hard work or elevate your growth to a new level. Fitness experts have found seven major factors that could be hindering your bodybuilding progress. These popular mistakes could be the reason you aren’t seeing the results you would like to:
1. Skipping Basic Exercises
A lot of people think that doing isolation exercises like chest flies and leg extensions is the best way to make their muscles grow. But basic moves such as bench presses and squats force several muscle groups to work together, imposing more stress on your body for bigger gains. The body responds to this extra stress by stimulating the anterior pituitary gland to secrete more growth hormone to compensate for the extra effort.
Solution: Jot down the exercises in your routine and if compound exercises aren’t at least 40-50%, you may be doing too many isolation exercises and it’s time to tweak your routine a bit.
2. Extra Sports Activities
Playing sports too often can sabotage your muscle growth goals. Muscles typically need 48 hours of rest to adapt to the stresses placed on them during exercise. Extra athletic activity makes your body more likely to use excess calories for fuel, and not for rebuilding itself though that is necessary for you to see the muscular gains you would like.
Solution: Cut down your cardiovascular activity back to about 20 minutes, three times a week and see what effect it has on your body. If cardio is stealing your muscle, you should begin to notice strength improvements like being able to lift more weight or complete more repetitions, within 2 to 3 weeks. If your main goal is to increase muscle size and strength, and not necessarily to build your overall health, try cutting back even more. Don’t want to miss a game? During your workout, ease up on the muscles you use most in your extra activity so they have more time to recover.
3. Smoking And Drinking
When you smoke you increase your chances of getting cancer, stroke, and other health issues. But did you know you’re also sabotaging your strength training?
Smoking increases carbon monoxide in your system, which deprives your muscles of the oxygen that is necessary for them to use for energy. The less oxygen that is available to your muscles, the less efficient they are at contracting, which can limit their capacity to work hard.
Alcohol can cover your abs with a stubborn layer of fat and interfere with hormones that help build them. Drinking regularly can also keep your testosterone levels lower than normal and decrease muscle mass.
Solution: Quit smoking, and don’t worry about the cold-turkey symptoms. Thirty minutes of exercise three to four times a week not only helps control body weight but can also produce positive psychological effects that might reduce the need to smoke. Drinking moderately – two or fewer drinks daily – won’t harm testosterone levels and can actually improve your cardiovascular health.
You need to eat immediately after working out. Right after a session, your body is hurrying to convert glucose into glycogen so your muscles can repair themselves and grow. If you don’t eat after exercising, your body breaks down muscle into amino acids to convert into glucose.
Solution: After working out, eat a high-carbohydrate meal—with protein. A study in the Journal of Strength and Conditioning Research found that a four-to-one carbohydrate-to-protein ratio can provide 128 percent greater muscle glycogen storage than a high-carbohydrate drink alone. For even better results, have a sports drink before and during exercise.
5. Inadequate Sleep
If you don’t get enough deep sleep, your muscles can’t recover from exercise. Also, when you work out on inadequate sleep, you exercise at a lower intensity than you realize—but you feel as if it’s high. So your muscles are less likely to experience enough stress to grow.
Solution: Go to bed and wake up at set times every day, even on weekends, to keep your sleep cycles regular. Avoid caffeine as much as possible, especially close to bedtime. Try to exercise about 4 to 6 hours before bedtime. You don’t want to elevate your heart rate before going to bed which can interfere with sleep.
6. Excess Sugar
Sugary drinks like soda can fool your body with a blood-sugar spike, making you more likely to overlook other, nutrient-rich foods you could be eating. Sugar may be limiting your intake of muscle-building amino acids, and therefore draining the fuel you need for your workouts.
Solution: Stick to water and low-sugar sports drinks. And watch out for sugar in places where you least expect it like dried fruits, certain nutrition bars, and even ketchup.
For an active man, eating about a gram of protein for every 2.2 pounds of body weight helps build muscle—if the protein is processed properly. High-protein meals could have a slight diuretic effect. When the body utilizes protein for energy, it has to remove the nitrogen component of the molecule to convert it into glucose. This process needs ample water.
Solution: Drink eight to 10 glasses of water a day and divide your protein among five or six small meals throughout the day. Not only will you put less stress on your kidneys, but you’ll also utilize more of the protein you’re eating by giving your body only as much as it can use each time.