I did a few blog entries and articles recently explaining (mostly for the ladies) where people go wrong in trying to lose weight. What about the rest of us though who actually want to get bigger?
So this one goes out to all my boys who are hitting the gym and doing their best, but not quite seeing the results that they want to. This is based on having trained for rather a long time and then suddenly over the past couple of years (since becoming qualified as a PT funnily enough) suddenly getting it together and thinking, “wow, why wasn’t I training like this all along?”. Also though some stuff I’ve never done, but have seen other people doing for inexplicable reasons.
Here. We. Go!
NUMBER ONE: Your program probably sucks.
Don’t get me wrong. There’s a million ways to skin a cat and one GOOD program is probably as good as another… but that’s not to say you can just throw a random collection of exercises together in a random order and expect to get great results from it. You should have a good reason for doing whatever you’re doing, and “some guy told me and I thought it sounded hard core!” isn’t good enough!
Your program needs to be balanced, with enough attention on all the different body parts / muscle groups. Or the way I look at it, it needs to cover all of the natural human movement patterns. You should be utilising compound exercises (especially the “big three” aka squats, deadlifts and bench press) and supplementing with appropriate isolation exercises as needed.
NUMBER TWO: You’re not lifting heavy enough.
It’s just like the famous quote, “everyone wants to get big, but no one wants to lift no heavy ass weights”. Heavy is a subjective term though and what’s heavy for me might not be so heavy for you. The point is, you should be lifting as much as you possibly can, to the point that you struggle a little especially on the last few reps. You definitely shouldn’t be lazily pumping out reps without much effort while carrying on a conversation with someone! For muscle growth it is generally agreed that rep ranges of 8 – 12 reps are suitable, although you might want to mixing this up with periods of even heavier weight for less reps, to build strength. The theory of course is that when you come back to 8 – 12 rep ranges, you’re able to use a heavier weight than previously. I developed quite a nice little program called “Progressive Power” with this in mind. Maybe you’ve heard of it?
Oh also this is very important. You should be trying to increase the amount you lift regularly. If you just lift the same amount of weight every week, week after week… you’re not sending your body the message that it needs to get bigger and stronger. Every couple of weeks you should be trying to go just a little bit heavier.
Number Three: Stop getting your idiot mates to “spot” you.
Spots are a good idea when you want to really push yourself to the limit and still be safe. Just having someone there keeping an eye on you might help you get that last rep or two out, that you might not otherwise attempt. A good spotter can assist you for the last couple of reps to make sure you complete the full set too. BUT… that’s how it should work – “keep an eye on me and help me out on the last few reps if I need it”, NOT “lets use way too much weight and you can lift half of it for me from the first rep”.
Number Four: You aint eating enough.
This is probably the most important aspect that most people struggle with or ignore completely. Personally it is my own biggest stumbling block, physically consuming enough calories every day to grow bigger and bigger. It’s quite logical though right? You’ve gotta eat big to get big. Of course, you’re probably not going to build a great physique from just pigging out on junk for easy calories… so you have to make sensible food choices. I would say you need to be eating AT LEAST 500 calories a day above maintenance (1000 is probably better) to gain size and weight, and of course with a good balance of proteins, fats and carbs. I would say at least 40% protein, and at least 35% carbs or thereabouts. You NEED carbs to fuel your training session, and to recover from it.
Train hard, lift heavy, eat right. Get big and strong.