You already have the vision of how this new body’s going to look, right?
And you’re definitely going to get there. No doubts in your mind about that.
Problem is, it’s just not happening fast enough. I know the feeling.
The garbage food has been going in the garbage. Healthy stuff all the
way. You’ve kept showing up at the gym…but you’re still not building
muscle. What’s happening? Healthy diet + weight training = muscle.
It’s a wee bit more complicated than that – and there are more than just
two pieces to the puzzle. This article will detail several important
mistakes you need to avoid to build muscle effectively and achieve a
stronger, better body.
You may be making three, four or more of them, which will undoubtedly be
hampering your efforts to add any mass and definition to your frame.
Address all problem areas and building muscle is the ONLY outcome.
You’re not building muscle because of…
#1 Too much cardio.
Not focusing completely on weight training and wasting your time on
cardio can lead to little or no muscle gains. You don’t want to be using
up more calories than you are taking in through too much cardio
exercise like running, cycling and sports like football or tennis.
Sure, the body uses carbs as its primary fuel but once reserves are low
it needs to make glucose from somewhere to get you through your cardio
sessions. That somewhere is your muscle tissue. If you’re doing cardio
in the gym along with lifting to try and burn extra fat then stop.
Weight training is hugely effective in building muscle and burning fat.
This is because it raises your metabolism levels – and these can stay
elevated for a day or more after your workout is over.
#2 Focusing on the wrong weightlifting exercises.
Too many isolation exercises and not enough compounds can limit
progress. This is the problem with some machines in gyms – they focus on
targeting individual muscles. Meanwhile, compound exercises like squats
and bent over rows work for several muscle groups at a time.
It’s like going into a shop and buying a six-pack of beers for $10…when
the place next door is doing a 3 for the price of 1 deal. You get a
better return for your energy investment with compound exercises.
Compounds also help stimulate an anabolic environment in the body which
promotes growth all over and thus better body composition.
#3 Not lifting heavy enough.
If the level of weights you do not change then don’t expect your body to
change either. Lifting the same weights session after session is going
to get you nowhere. Progressive overload must be brought into play to
induce hypertrophy effectively and spark muscle growth.
If you can manage 10 reps or more for any exercise – while maintaining
good technique – then it is time to up the weight and properly tests
yourself. This will properly fatigue your muscles and force them to grow
and adapt to deal with the increased resistance.
#4 No goals.
With no clear training goals you will lack direction and focus – and
ultimately won’t end up where you want to be. It’s one thing having a
vision of a bigger chest, developed arms straining against your t-shirt
and ripped abs. It’s another mapping out how to get there.
You’re not going to fall out of bed one morning after a month of
workouts looking like The Rock. You have to set individual targets and
go after them like nothing else matters. This free WTITW Goals Worksheet
can help you with that
Have your weekly workouts planned out in advance? Keep a training
journal and jot down to all the exercises and weights you are going to
lift well before you even step in the gym. Set yourself other targets,
such as ‘no alcohol this weekend’ or ‘eating clean 6 days, just one
All these small wins add up to your overall success. Everything counts.
#5 Eating junk food.
The typical Western diet is filled with too many processed, high sugar
and high salt foods. The UK and the US are among the richest countries
in the world, yet are also among the sickest. You must move away from
fast food and particularly the high sugar foods we are bombarded with.
Otherwise, your body won’t be getting the nutrients it needs to be
strong and healthy. It’ll be too busy dealing with an overload of toxins
and won’t have the proper tools, i.e. amino acids, vitamins, and
minerals, it requires to build muscle and maintain health.
Ditch microwave meals, cook fresh, eat plenty more vegetables and fruit,
and cut back on takeaways. Also, reduce sugar as much as possible as it
will spike your insulin, lead to fat gain and scupper your chances of
developing a great physique.
#6 Not drinking enough water.
The body is made up of around 65% water and is obviously essential for
the healthy functioning of the body. It’s also very important for muscle
strength and size. Studies have shown that just a small drop in water
of 4% can cause a loss of muscular strength and endurance. In order to
stay strong, you must stay hydrated. Aim to drink around 3 liters of
water per day.
#7 Not absorbing enough protein.
Notice I said ‘absorbing’, not eating. The body needs a sufficient
supply of quality protein to provide all the essential amino acids
needed to repair the damage to muscle tissue after a tough workout – and
to grow. But you could be getting plenty of protein from top sources
like chicken, steak, eggs, nuts, and shakes, but you may not be able to
absorb it properly due to poor gut health.
Eating a poor diet and not managing stress can affect the ratio of good
to bad bacteria in your stomach – which then inhibits your ability to
absorb nutrients from your food.
It may benefit you hugely to introduce fermented foods and probiotic
supplements to support healthy digestion. Digestive enzyme supplements
can also assist in breaking down your food if you have gut issues.
This digestive health article by expert Dr. David Williams provides more info on the importance of gut bacteria.
Also, many whey protein shakes are also difficult to digest. Opting for
organic plant-based brown rice protein and vegan blends is a much better
alternative as these are easier for the body to absorbs. I’ve listed
the brands I use and write reviews on each of them on the WTITW
Want to learn about three other areas you MUST address if you’re not building muscle?
If any of the above 7 reasons apply to you then it will inevitably be
more difficult to increase your muscle mass. But dealing with these 3
further issues is absolutely essential. Make these mistakes and you’ve
got no chance of developing muscle and maintaining a strong, healthy