Not growing? We’ve all been there; that dreaded place where the dominant thought in your mind seems to be a worried ‘why aren’t I gaining muscle?!’ You wake up in the morning, jump on the scale, and you weigh the same as you did one month ago. Fully pumped after a huge workout session at the gym, you measure your arms and think to yourself, ‘wait a second… isn’t that exactly how big they were back a couple of months ago?’ You get out of the shower and look at yourself in the mirror; you just plain aren’t getting any bigger!
What a terrible place to be in! If you can’t seem to pack on the weight, there’s almost 99% chance that you’re breaking one (or more!) of the three rules of bodybuilding; lift big, eat big, and rest big!
First of all, we’ll take a look at your diet. If you’re not making any gains, the most likely reason is that you’re simply not taking in enough calories. Remember, a simple bulking program will have you in a caloric surplus of 500 a day. What this means is to take in 500 calories over your regular maintenance level.
Are you getting enough carbs? Bulking phases consist of significantly more carbs than a cutting phase, where the majority of calories are taken up with protein. Remember to take in a lot of complex carbs (low GI) within each meal, to supply your body with the energy it needs so it doesn’t have to go feeding on your muscle!
Also be sure to keep your protein intake at at least one gram of protein per pound of body weight daily.
Secondly, make sure you’re getting enough rest. A problem many bodybuilders have is simply not relaxing enough (we understand – training can be extremely addictive!). Remember, all the growth is done during the rest phase. You stress the muscles during your workouts, and let them rebuild stronger when at rest.
Former Mr. Olympia Dorian Yates uses this simple (if not brutal!) analogy:
You take sandpaper to your hand. You rub and rub and rub (training), until the skin disappears and a wound is left fresh. Your aim is for a callous to grow – you want your skin to come back stronger (hypertrophy/recovery). However, before it has finished healing, you take the sandpaper to it again – the wound is reopened, without the callous having had the time to develop.
In other words, make sure your muscles are getting the required amount of rest time between training them! Damaging them again and again without giving them the time to rebuild will keep you skinny for life.
Also, make sure you’re getting eight hours of sleep a night (or at the very least, seven).
In regards to working out, you may be training outside of the ideal rep range for hypertrophy.
Remember, 6-12 reps (though I prefer 8-10) for 3-4 sets of a particular exercise will as a general rule produce the best results. Try hitting your target muscles using this rep/set range with a range of different exercises, and you should see the muscle piling on quicker than ever before!
Remember, if you’re not gaining any muscle, check on observer to see if you’re obeying the three rules of bodybuilding; large amounts of lifting, eating, and resting! Bulk with a proper caloric surplus, don’t skimp on the required amount of rest, and keep your workouts in the most effective rep ranges. Keeping this bodybuilding triad in check is a surefire way to pile on slabs of rock-hard muscle.
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