Gaining muscle is a goal for many but few ever achieve their targets. People often try and fail several times before giving up for good. A few persist to get the physique that they have always dreamed of. So what makes the difference between success and failure? Are significant gains possible without using drugs? How much can a person realistically expect to achieve if he works hard at it? Is it ever too late to start?
There is no need to despair as everyone can go about building muscle at any age. There is no need to use drugs just to see notable results. What people require is patience, consistency, knowledge, and motivation to succeed. They should be clear on exactly what they want to achieve so that they can take the right steps to get there. Below are some of the things that experts recommend:
- Progressive Overload
One of the biggest mistakes that people do is to lift small weights until they get sore. This is not effective if you want to get stronger and develop bigger muscles. You need to lift heavy to stimulate muscle growth. Challenge your body to lift something that is heavy yet manageable. It may be difficult at first but adaptations will occur to make it easy after a while. Your form will get better and your strength will increase. Once this happens, you must add more weight to the bar to tax your body again. This progressive overload will have you gaining muscle slowly but surely.
- Reduce Repetitions
Another common mistake is to repeat movements a large number of times before moving to a heavier load. For example, beginners might take a 5lb dumbbell and use it until they are able to do 20, 50, or even 100 reps. Sure, they will make some gains this way but they are likely to get more lean than bulky. If the goal is to boost muscle mass, then they should lift a heavier weight even if it means getting only a few reps at a time. Single digit reps are better than double digits when it comes to this type of activity. If it is too easy, then add weight.
- Lift More Often
While the number of reps should drop, the frequency of your workouts should increase. Training your muscles more will push them to develop faster as long as everything is done properly. Beginners may only be able to do squats and deadlifts once a week because these put a lot of strain on their bodies. However, they should get used to it after a while. Then they can do these exercises twice a week without getting too fatigued. Advanced individuals may even do them as often as three times a week. Stick to the same exercises so you can monitor your progress over an extended period.
- Try Compound Exercises
Doing exercises that isolate certain muscles will take more time to complete yet are less effective than compound exercises overall. If you don’t have a lot of time, then ditch the curls and the extensions. Perform whole body movements instead such as deadlifts, squats, rows, benches, and overhead presses. These will engage multiple muscle groups in every repetition so you are virtually doing more work in less time. Since you are using more of your body, you can also lift heavier loads. This should result in more rapid gains. Compound exercises should comprise the bulk of your routines. Isolation exercises can come later for refinements.
- Use Free Weights
The bulky gym machines may seem intriguing and intimidating at the same time. A lot of newbies are eager to try them out so they can feel like real bodybuilders. However, there is nothing magical about these things. There are great for targeting certain muscles but that it not really what you need when you are trying to build a strong body. It would be better to lift weights using a barbell because this tool will require balance while allowing you movement in virtually any direction. This means that even the small supporting muscles will be activated. This is challenging so make sure that you begin with light loads.
- Rest and Recharge
A strong motivation to succeed must be tempered with a respect for the body’s needs. You can’t just train every single day and expect that gains will come faster. This could be a recipe for burnout and injuries. The body should be given ample time to recover from the stress or else it will not be able to adapt to the stimulus. It will simply accumulate muscle tears until things break. Rest every other day at the very least. Novices should have an even longer rest period between workouts. Your mind also deserves a break from intense focus. Get lots of sleep and plenty of food.
- Fuel Your Body
The food you eat will be the fuel that your body will consume when powering through exercises and creating more muscles. You will be able to bounce back faster from hard efforts if you get adequate calories. Everyone has a unique requirement based on their weight, goals, metabolism, and activity level. Some might need 3,000 kcal per day while smaller people will be good with 2,000 kcal. Professional bodybuilders can easily exceed these by a mile.
- Check the Nutrients
The quantity of food is not the only thing that you should pay attention to. The quality is just as important. To be specific, you must try to get enough muscle-building nutrients in your meals. Protein is vital to make sure that you include protein-rich sources including red meat, fish, poultry, eggs, and dairy. If you need more, then you can consider getting whey protein powder. The exact recommendations differ but consuming around 1.8 grams of protein per day for every kilogram of your body weight is a good level to aim for. Increase this gradually so that your body can get used to processing the large amount.
- Have Realistic Expectations
Don’t think that you will look like a bodybuilder a few months after you start weight training. Those people have been doing these exercises for many years. They also use steroids to speed up their gains despite the negative effects of such drugs. If you want to bulk up naturally, then set your expectations accordingly. Look for natural bodybuilders and see what they can achieve. Then focus on yourself and try to reach your own maximum potential.