Everybody who has ever picked up a weight or gone to the gym at some point or another has wanted to get big, possibly even huuuge. Sure, your initial goal when joining the Brotherhood of Iron may have been to lose weight or just not look bad when strutting your stuff on the beach, but eventually the idea implanted itself in your noggin that you should “bulk up.”
Lots and lots of individuals try this, and most do it unsuccessfully, much to their frustration and detriment. It can be one of any number of reasons. Luckily, we’ve got some of the most common culprits holding you back from turning into a future Arnold. Be on the look out for these, and you may just prevent many headaches and problems associated with trying to gain muscle.
Not Eating Enough
“You gotta eat big to get big!”
You’ve no doubt heard this plenty of times from gym bros, bodybuilders, and fitness forum buffs before. No one ever gained muscle (or weight for that matter) by undereating. This is by far the most common mistake people make when trying to add size to their frame.
If you’re not eating enough calories, all the hard work in the gym is going to waste. You have to provide your body with enough calories to repair the damage done in the weight room, PLUS some more to increase the size of your muscles and add additional mass to your frame.
Failing to Plan
Here’s probably the 2nd most common problem guys make when trying to bulk up. They don’t have a solid game plan when trying to gain muscle. They hop from program to program based on every recommendation they hear from a friend or read on another fitness blog. Or even worse, they find some routine a bodybuilder or actor did in a magazine and try that out.
What ultimately ends up happening is constantly trying new programs each week, or worse, every workout, and never make any solid commitment to staying on track with one proven hypertrophy based program.
To keep it simple, pick ONE program, and write down EVERYTHING. Each set, rep, rest period like your life depended on it. Failure to accurately monitor your progress and stay on track with your program will result in program hopping and you spinning your own wheels.
Doing Too Much
Yes, it is possible to exercise too much, especially when it comes to gaining muscle. Many people will either do an 75-90+ minute workout for just their chest, and then finish their 30 set workout with several drop sets. Just like how others may be scared of gaining too much fat and do excessive amounts of cardio.
Both of these accomplish the same effect: preventing you from gaining size. Go back to our first mistake. You have to be in a caloric surplus to gain muscle. Doing too many sets of exercises or endless amounts of cardio eat away at the caloric surplus you’re trying to maintain and therefore hinder your body’s ability to build muscle.
On top of that excessive amounts of exercise will hinder your body’s natural recovery ability, which can lead to overuse injuries or not allowing your body to adequately build muscle.
Setting Unrealistic Goals
Here’s a less common one, but one that can affect many a broski. You have to have a realistic idea and goal of what you can accomplish naturally (i.e. without steroids). Setting high goals like being able to deadlift 500lbs or have 20” biceps is great. However, if your current deadlift is 150lbs and your bicep is 12” flexed, you need to get more realistic and check those goals for a while.
The body can only build a certain amount of muscle over a period of time. Your long term goals may be high, but also try to set some more realistic and attainable goals. For example, if you can only do 4 pull ups from a dead hang, aim to be able to do 8 in a month’s time.
These smaller goals are all working towards your ultimate goal, but they will help you stay focused and on track. They’ll also help you from getting frustrated at immediately not being able to pull 500lbs or having noodle arms!
Getting big can be a great motivational tool for getting you in the gym and making you work hard. It is going to take a lot of serious work and dedication on your part, not just in terms of weight lifting, but also eating and sleeping as well. Don’t let any of these common culprits hinder you from realizing your bigger, badder self!
Stay tuned next week for another entry here on the Nitramine Blog!
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