From Fitness & Power
If despite the hard workouts and the time you spend in the gym, you still struggle to build muscle, you might want to take a look at these 5 scenarios that might be happening to you. Chances are you are making some of these basic mistakes.
Scenario 1 – You have no clue how many calories you eat a day
Ask any skinny guy in the gym how much they eat and you’ll get the answer: “I eat a LOT”. But when you ask them to specify what they ate this week or how many calories they consumed every day during the last few days, I bet they’ll get confused. The average “hardgainer” usually has no idea how many calories a day they eat.
The solution? Take notes of what you drink and eat during the next 7 days. Then visit one of the numerous online calorie calculators and see how many calories you are really consuming. This is a good starting point. This way you’ll be able to calculate exactly how many calories you are consuming each day, and how many calories you should consume to support certain muscle mass.
Just don’t be surprised when you find out that you are actually eating a lot less than you are claiming to eat.
Scenario 2 – You have no idea how much protein you consume on a daily basis
Perhaps you sometimes eat a chicken breast meal, drink a protein shake or two, and maybe even eat a few eggs – but the truth is … you have no idea how many grams of protein a day you eat.
Studies suggest that every active individual has an increased need of protein. Athletes need about 0.9-1g of protein per lb. Weightlifters need even more protein. Having no idea of what your daily protein requirements are, it is time to find out.
In a world focused on carbohydrates, it’s easy to consume less protein than needed. This is why you need to do the same thing as you did with the calories. Write down every protein food you eat and go through your log after a week or so. Aim to get around 1g of protein per lb of weight and if you are not gaining in couple of months increase the protein a bit more. You can reach your daily requirements by consuming supplements like amino acids, whey protein or casein. Just remember – supplements are just supplements, nothing can replace the most anabolic thing – real food.
Reason 3 – you are “Exercising” instead of “Training”
Although exercise is great for overall health, it does not guarantee that you will build muscle mass or look like an athlete. Sweating while working out means only one thing – the body is regulating its temperature, and it usually happens when the body burns calories.
Hard workout is not equal to smart workout. Smart exercise involves the use of the best muscle building tools in the gym – complex exercises such as bench press, squats, deadlifts, shoulder presses, barbell rows, etc. You also need to focus on progression or becoming stronger with each session in the gym Lifting 10 pounds for 30 minutes you can really make you sweat, but it will do next to nothing for increasing your muscles.
Do your weight training smart. After your warm up sets, do a few work sets where you will lift a heavy enough (for you) weight. For most people this is a weight that they can lift 5-8 times till failure. Also try to increase the weight you lift every two to three weeks. These don’t need to be big increases – a pound or two more on the bar is just enough.
You can do the same thing with the reps. If last time you did squats with 250 lbs for 8 reps, this workout try to do 10 reps with the same weight. This constant desire for progress is the magic behind the process of building muscle.
Scenario 4 – You do too much cardio
You are thin and cannot gain any muscle. Why would you do 5-6 hours of cardio a week then?
Cardio exercises are great for overall health and losing weight. They have their own role in every training routine. But for hardgainers, too much cardio can only hamper the process of gaining weight and building muscles.
Limit your cardio sessions 3-4 times a week, and let your cardio sessions last about 25-30 minutes. This is quite enough to rip the benefits of doing cardio and improve your health.
Scenario 5 – You want to keep your six pack so badly that you are afraid to gain a little weight
Ok, so you may be able to see your six pack, but that’s only because you are too skinny. Take a look at your arms, legs, back and shoulders. Are you missing about 15 or more lbs on your frame?
Rather than having to worry about the level of fat in your body, focus on adding 15 lbs muscles. The extra weight will make you look great and “jacked”, so no one will notice those extra 2 pounds you are currently obsessed about.