There’s nothing like a lack of results to make you want to quit the gym. And never is this more the case than when you’ve genuinely been doing your best. Contrary to popular belief, this is actually a pretty common problem, particularly among those new to personal fitness.
What many people fail to realize is that results in the gym arise not out of working hard, but out of working smart. And if you find yourself sweating without any muscles to show for it, chances are, you’re doing something wrong. Here are seven of the most common causes of painfully slow gains at the gym.
The Wrong Diet
A poor diet can prevent anyone from progressing at the gym. In fact, it’s not uncommon for people to join a gym for a few months and actually start looking worse. The reason for this is simple; they think that 30 minutes in the gym entitles them to a kebab on the way home.
If you want muscles, working out alone is never going to be enough. You also need to eat the right things. For every kilo you weigh, you should be eating between 12 and 14 calories per day. And those calories should be coming primarily from complex carbohydrates and protein.
Not Pushing Hard Enough
Muscle gain is achieved in two stages. First, you push your muscles hard enough to make tiny tears. Then you rest, allowing your muscles to slowly regenerate. As your muscles repair themselves, they slowly become both stronger and larger.
Not everyone pushes themselves hard enough to make these tears. While intense pain is a sign that you’re hurting yourself, moderate pain or “burn” is a sign that you’re actually making progress. If you’re not feeling it, you’re probably not pushing hard enough.
No Rest Days
As I mentioned above, the second stage of muscle growth involves allowing your muscles to rest. Some people think that they can skip this stage. The result is muscles that refuse to grow and in many instances, the result is injury.
In other words, if you’re hitting the gym seven days a week without making gains, perhaps try going five days instead. And never exercise the same muscle two days in a row.
If you’ve gained some muscle but not a lot, it could be that there’s a consistency problem. Let’s assume that you plan to hit the gym three times per week. If you regularly miss one of these sessions, you’re only operating at 66% of your capacity. This is not how you make progress.
Another example of inconsistency is doing everything right for one month and then taking it easy the following month. Unfortunately, if you want to make real gains at the gym, a long term and consistent commitment is very much required.
Too Many Isolation Exercises
As I mentioned at the start of this article, muscle growth is not just about working hard, it’s about working smart. In other words, your choice of exercise is just as important as how much you put into it.
If you want to make speedy gains, you should be focusing on compound exercises rather than the isolation variety. Do you know why bench presses and squats are so popular? Because instead of working one muscle, they work several. The result is bigger gains, faster.
Too Much Cardio
If you’re going to the gym with the goal of losing weight, doing plenty of high intensity interval cardio makes sense. If you’re trying to build muscle however, it’s the last thing that you should be doing.
Every calorie that you burn running is one less that you can use lifting weights. If you’re serious about building muscle, limit your cardio to your warm up sessions.
Finally, there’s the small matter of variety, a crucial workout ingredient that many people forget about. If you keep performing the same exercises again and again, your body is going to look for shortcuts. And eventually it’s going to find one.
In other words, what really pushed your muscles to the limit last month can easily become a walk in the park this month. If you want to make gains, it’s therefore very important to switch things up occasionally.
Author Bio: Chris Rodman is a certified fitness trainer at Fargo gym. The common complaint which people have is the lack of muscle mass. He believes that merely joining the gym doesn’t help, proper diet and other factors are also essential. He also blogs about many such fitness related issues.