Top 5 Mistakes When Adding Muscle
To accompany the top 5 tips for fat loss entry, here is a run down of the top five mistakes made by those looking to add quality muscle tissue. Adding muscle is not only an aim of a bodybuilder, but also for those who are generally looking to approve their aesthetic appeal, and those who understand the benefits of having a suitable level of muscle tissue for general fitness and well being.
#1 Not enough rest and breaks between workouts
The joy of lifting iron and seeing your body transform in the mirror can be a very satisfying, and in some ways addictive. Seeing muscles becoming larger in size and more defined can often drive an enthusiast to train more often, and harder. Similarly, the same can be said for those who notice less than optimal results, with trainers trying to train with greater intensity and in greater frequency to try to encourage gains in muscle size.
The troublesome aspect of this approach is increasing the frequency and intensity of workouts will more than likely not result in greater gains, and can often lead to the total opposite in a lot of cases. More can often equal less, and less equal more, when it comes to gaining muscle. To understand this we must appreciate what happens when we work out, and how we gain muscle tissue.
In a brief summary, resistance training often leads to micro tears and damage to the muscle tissue, accompanied by anabolic hormone processes. With the correct rest and dietary intake the muscle will repair itself and become larger in size to adopt to the stress applied to it. Repeating this process many times results in notable increases in muscle size. This muscle building process requires correct rest and nutrition for the muscle to rebuild and repair, and it is therefore clear to see that rest is an important factor in the process of adding muscle.
Generally, muscle groups should not be directly trained until 3 days after their previous workout to allow for sufficient rest. For example, training the chest muscles on a Monday, and then again on Tuesday will often not allow time for the chest fibres to repair themselves from Mondays workout ready for Tuesday. This of course does not factor in other variables such as the intensity of the workouts, and the quality of the rest and nutrition. After all, many people gain very well from three full body workouts per week. But generally 3 days should allow for adequate rest for a muscle between workouts, if using a typically body split which targets specific muscle groups within the week.
The CNS (Central Nervous System) is also an important aspect in recovery. Heavy stressful compound exercises can fatigue the CNS, which can have an impact on the overall function of the body. Having a couple of days rest in-between heavy sessions would be wise for sustainability of performance and results.
#2 Where are the compounds?
This is one of the most common issues with many trainers who are training for muscle size. Whilst cable lateral raises, leg extensions, triceps kick backs, and other isolation exercises are great for targeting a specific muscle, building overall mass is all about compound exercises. Bench press, dips, close grip bench press, shoulder press, rows, pull ups, squats, dead lifts, are all exercises which when performed will recruit and stimulate a large number of muscle groups. Compound exercises should ideally be the back bone of your workout program.
# 3 Poor structuring of weight training programs
This very much ties into the two points made above. The backbone of your weight training sessions should be compound exercises, such as the bench press, squat, dead lift and bent over row, which recruit many muscle groups during the execution of the lift. Stressing multiple muscle groups during these multi joint exercises will stimulate greater overall growth. With many muscle groups aiding in lifts which are commonly used to target a totally different muscle, we must structure our programs in a way which allows for sufficient overall recuperation. An example would be the involvement of the triceps during a chest day, where many pressing movements are executed. It would be therefore unwise to hammer your triceps the day before, or the day after a heavy pressing session.
Structure your program so each muscle group is repaired, and fresh for an effective workout.
#4 Over reliance on supplements
Many supplements can be a great aid for those looking to build muscle mass, but supplements should only be seen as a minor weapon in your arsenal. A protein powder product (typically whey) and creatine monohydrate are the only two non-hormonal supplements I would advise for the average gym goer. Your first step should be to ensure your diet is 100% geared towards your goal of adding sustainable muscle mass. If dietary intake is sufficient, supplements can be explored, with the first call commonly being a whey protein product directly post weight training, and a daily intake of creatine monohydrate.
Other supplements are available, but should only be investigated after the above advice is implemented. Do not get drawn into the flashy advertising and bold claims made by many supplements on the market. Always seek advise on forums regarding other products to gather real life feedback on results.
#5 Scared of saying bye to “six pack”
Building muscle requires calories. Most people (unless genetically gifted or taking performance enhancing drugs) will find it difficult to add new muscle tissue on a restricted diet and performing high intensity/frequency cardiovascular sessions. This may scare some trainers who closely measure calorie intake to ensure a conditioned look year round, but gains in new muscle tissue is going to limited with this approach. The addition of new muscle tissue requires sufficient calories, protein, carbohydrates, fats, rest and high intensity weight training. This does not mean adding muscle requires getting fat, its just a fact that adding new muscle often requires certain dietary and training changes which may not support the fully conditioned look which many natural trainers hold dearly.