Welcome to my top 10 things you should stop doing in order to maximize your muscle gains. Let’s jump in shall we?
Skipping the Warm-up
This is probably a no-brainer to the seasoned athlete, but to the beginner it may just be an item of uncertainty. Why should you warm up and what should you do? You should warm up the muscles you are going to train during your next workout. For instance, if you are planning to go heavy on bench press, ensuring your shoulders/rotator cuff are warmed up will help prevent injury and poor form. Don’t skip the warm-ups – if you have questions, just ask! We love sharing with you all!
Using momentum to lift
Momentum is NOT your friend! I’ve seen many people use momentum to make their reps go a little easier. Using momentum takes the load off of the prime mover (the main muscle being worked) and engages other muscles to make the lift easier. For instance, an individual doing barbell bicep curls may swing their entire body just to get the bar up. This is not good because instead of your biceps doing the work, you are using your entire body. Leave your ego at the door, lighten the load, and focus on using your biceps (or whatever muscle it may be) to move the weight! NOT using momentum will yield better gains, I promise!
Going through the motions
There are days you may not feel like being in the gym – I’ve been there. However, it’s important to not simply go through the motions of the exercise. Rather, focus on the muscle being worked and try to establish a proper mind-muscle connection. The mind-muscle connection will help you engage the target muscle for a better contraction and pump. Try focusing on the muscle and really squeezing at the peak of the contraction for a better exercise experience. Avoid going through the motions!
Repeating the same workout
Ahh, one of the worst things you can do, the same thing every day. Our bodies are meant to adapt, that means if you do the same workout day after day, it won’t continue to grow muscle; this is because your body isn’t being exposed to new stimuli. If you want to reap the most out of your time and energy, change up the routine. Changing up the routine at the right time will force your muscles to adapt and grow!
Forgetting your water bottle
This one is overlooked sometimes as many gyms have a water fountain. I highly suggest bringing in your own personal water bottle for a couple of reasons. The first is that you should be hydrating throughout your entire exercise. Second, if you do not have a water bottle and are forced to go to the water fountain for a drink each time, that is more time spent away from your weights (and I bet it’s more than the 45-60 second range!). Bring your own water bottle!
Not doing compound exercises
I’ll keep this short – if you aren’t doing compound exercises and you’re expecting to see mass…you’re in for a rude awakening! Compound exercises, such as barbell curls/barbell press/bench press/squat/deadlifts/etc., are crucial for mass as these exercises work almost your entire body! Don’t neglect these!
Too much cardio
For some, cardio is a good go to for relieving stress and anxiety, but don’t over do it if you’re trying to pack on muscle! Cardio burns excess calories which can keep you from being in an anabolic state. If you burn too many calories and you aren’t in a surplus, you won’t be packing on much muscle. I recommend utilizing High Intensity Interval Training (HIIT) more often, and perhaps one endurance session to maintain a health heart, per week!
Resting too long
There’s a reason most programs have a designated rest time – it matters! If you want muscles to be broken down so they can grow, you need to reduce the amount of time spent away from the lift. One of the critical elements needed for muscle breakdown is metabolic stress. Resting too long can cause your muscles to remove lactic acid and replenish ATP/energy therefore restarting the work that you’ve already done. Reducing the amount of rest time to 30-60 seconds will maximize the metabolic stress placed on your muscle and will increase the likelihood of tearing those fibers.
Not only does lifting alone cause a huge safety concern, it hinders your gains! Lifting with a partner has many benefits such as: motivation to squeeze out another rep, innovation which can lead you to try new lifts, your partner can help you lift heavier weight to force your muscles to adapt, your partner can also help with what’s called “forced reps,” a training tactic that involves one person working to failure and then having their partner aid them by physically moving the weight the rest of the way when the person working gets stuck (for instance, person A is doing tricep push-downs and gets to their 13th rep and has no energy left, person B can come along and help by pushing down on the rope while person A gives it everything they have!) Finding a lifting partner can be hard, but I highly recommend meeting someone and becoming buddies!
Having a poor diet
I saved the best for last – your diet! They say that building muscle is 90% kitchen and 10% training, and I am a firm believer in this. You can train all day but if your diet is off and you’re in a caloric deficit, you will not gain muscle, period! Eating to be in a caloric surplus will lead to putting on weight, which will hopefully be muscle if you are training hard enough. There’s more that goes into a proper diet such as eating a good ratio of macronutrients, ensuring your carbs are good carbs, healthy fat choices, etc. If you have questions about what a good diet looks like, drop a comment!
There you have it ladies and gentlemen, 10 things you should stop doing in order to maximize your gains! I hope you enjoyed this read, and if you have any topics you would like for me to cover in my next article feel free to comment below (I want to write things YOU care about!). Be sure to follow #TEAMFLEXAPPEAL on Instagram (@TEAMFLEXAPPEAL) and follow me too if you want, I share workouts and photos of friends/family in the gym (@toddactual). Thanks again for your time!