1) You Don’t Have Enough Variety
Working out is effective because it stimulates the body to make adaptations to meet the demand placed on it. Since you start moving more, your body is forced to change. If after some time the stimulus does not change, your body will have no need to change either. You need to have variety in your workouts to continue changing and building muscle.
Here are a few tips to add variety:
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- Work in different rep ranges. Try a 5×5, 4×6, 6×4, 4×10 set and rep range to stimulate change. The different rep ranges mean you will be using more or less weight than you are used to. For example, if you do 3×10 bench press at 100 pounds, using a 5×5 will help you lift more weight for less reps, so you can perhaps do 130-140 instead of sticking the same 100 pounds.
- Change the grip. Simple things like changing how you hold a dumbbell or barbell can stress different muscles.
2) You’re Doing Too Much Cardio for Building Muscle
We should all have a baseline of cardiovascular endurance. It will help us be healthier but more importantly, promote faster recovery between sets. Too much cardio however, can hold your gains back. If your goal is building muscle, stick to one or two twenty to thirty minute cardio sessions that focus on High Intensity Interval Training (HIIT). If HIIT is too much for you, stick to steady state and gradually add the intensity bursts.
3) Lack of Progressive Overload
Very much in line with not adding enough variety, you need to progressively overload your lifts. This means that over time you need to lift more and more weight. So for example, if you can get 100 pounds bench press for three sets of ten, try adding 5 pounds. The first time you may only be able to add the extra weight for the last set but over time you can get all three at 105. Then start the process with 110, and so on. You need to create the change you wish to see in your body.
4) Not Eating Enough Calories for Building Muscle
This is a big one. You need to be in a calorie surplus if you want to build muscle. Yes, you read that right. You need to eat more calories than you burn if you want to build muscle. A simple way to figure it out is calculate how much you burn and add 250 calories. Make sure you get your bodyweight in protein, use 25% of your total calories for fat, and the rest carbs. Aim for a weight gain of around .5 – 1 pound per week. Talk to a dietitian for more personalized nutrition programs!
NOTE: Can you focus on muscle building and weight loss together? Yes. But unless you are a beginner, you will not get far. For optimal results, focus on one goal (muscle building or fat loss) for a few months then switch. The popular scheme is bulk (eat more) during winter months(Sept – March) and lean out(eat less) during summer months(Mar – Aug). Keep in mind your workouts need to reflect your goal.
5) You Are Not Consistent with Workouts
Work out with your goal in mind. This means being consistent (3-4 times per week) and not program hopping. Once you start a workout program, stick to it for 6-8 weeks and see how it works, after that make changes. Sticking to a program for less time may not allow it to work its magic.