With all of the superhero movies these days it seems that everybody and their dog wants to look like Mr. America. Nothing wrong with that, but many men have trouble gaining the muscle mass they want. In this article I am going to cover the main reasons our Boise personal trainers see as the reasons their clients don’t gain the amount of lean muscle mass that they want. The reasons come down to simple principles that either people don’t want to implement or simply don’t know about.
Muscle takes considerable effort and energy to build. The older we get as adults the more challenging muscle builder becomes. In our later years the game becomes trying to hold onto as much lean mass as we can forget about adding lean mass. A quick note to women, it is even more difficult for you to gain lean muscle mass due to the lower levels of male hormones. If you want to build lean mass you can with the same principles as men, just understand that it is more challenging for you because of your physiology.
Our Boise personal trainers say that the most common reason for a client not putting on weight and muscle is due to calorie consumption. To gain weight we must be in a caloric surplus, meaning we need to consume more calories than we burn. The opposite is true for weight loss. People who are trying to gain weight often don’t understand just how much food is needed to pack on slabs of lean muscle. It doesn’t have to be complicated though. Do a food journal to determine how much you are eating now and simply add a serving of protein, carbs, or fat to your daily intake. If you are under one gram of protein per pound of bodyweight, start by adding servings of protein. Adding a post workout shake will work for most people. If your goal is weight gain and lean muscle gain you will likely feel full most of the time. Pay close attention to how you are feeling and looking so you do not gain too much fat. It is best if you have some form of body composition measuring tool.
Let’s say you have the food thing figured out, but you are not gaining the amount of muscle you would like. The next issue that our Boise personal trainers see is people working out too much. Remember we need a caloric surplus. Well, if you are constantly working out and moving all day long then you are burning through more calories than we would like for weight gain purposes. With weight gain the saying goes, “Why run when you can walk. Why walk when you can sit.” In other words, reserve your calories for your workouts and muscle building. From a health standpoint this is not our recommendation, but if your goal is weight gain you want to keep the calories in your body. Try reducing your workouts to three full body workouts per week and see what happens. Play around with frequency to see what your sweet spot is.
How is your sleep? If you are not sleeping well your gains will be compromised. Sleep is like the magic elixir of muscle gain. When you sleep not only does your body get a chance to recover, but it is critical for optimal hormone regulation. Without either enough sleep or good quality of sleep your will not have an optimal hormonal profile for health and wellbeing let alone muscle gain. Sleep is critical to optimizing your time in the gym and quality nutrition. Work to get seven to nine hours of sleep every night. Make sure this is good quality sleep. If this is an area you have been slacking in then this alone could lead to significant gains over the next year.
The next reason is a great reason to hire a Boise personal trainer. You must workout at an intensity level that forces your body to adapt. If you do not have sufficient intensity during your workouts then your body will not be stimulated to add muscle. Do you have to kill yourself every single workout? No, but you do need to push your body to a point where it feels the need to overcompensate. Up your intensity and see what happens. A personal trainer is a great resource for learning how to do this properly and without injuring yourself.
Your volume is either too low or too high. If you are working very low volume reps working relative strength then you may not be getting the volume your body needs to add muscle mass. On the flip side of this is too much volume. This goes along with working out too much. Play around with the amount of training you are doing. If you are working out more than four days per week you will likely benefit from decreasing your training frequency and volume. If you are only doing low set work then you will likely benefit from increasing the volume per workout by increasing reps or sets.
You are getting too cutesy with your workouts. Our Boise personal trainers only get cute when the foundation is laid and even then, they focus on the foundational movement patterns and what works. When you want to put on size, doing straight sets is going to be your bread and butter. Straight sets meaning you do not do any movements in between sets of one exercise. For example, if you are doing bench press, squats, and pull-ups for your workout you would do all your sets of bench press before moving on to squats. You would then complete all of your squat sets before moving on to deadlifts. Straight sets build muscle. You can of course add other variations in, but keep straight sets as the bulk of your training program.
The fastest way to gain weight is complex exercises, with heavy weights, and lots of food. If you have done those three things for long enough and have hit a plateau then start to play around with volume, types of workouts, and different exercises.