Featured story October 26, 2013
If you’re working hard in the gym, the last thing you want to do is sabotage yourself. That’s why you do a great job drinking water, eating protein, and lifting heavy weights – those are the things you know will help you pack on a ton of muscle. But don’t commit muscle-building suicide by doing something you think is good, but really isn’t.
Here are six mistakes that seem good, but actually pull a ripcord on your progress.
For most people, these are overkill. You’re risking overreaching (which leads to overtraining), and you’re hurting your recovery and sapping your physique changes.
Muscles grow when you’re outside the gym. Because you’re tearing them down when you lift weights, you need to rest long enough to let the muscles recover. Within a day or two, your body will re-strengthen itself to handle even more weight – a process called “supercompensation.”
Unless you’re an elite athlete – like an Olympic weightlifter – skip a two-a-days and just train harder every workout.
Training to failure once every few weeks to test your strength levels is fine. Once every workout, however, is not.
You might make quick gains and get a “pump,” but your progress will stall because you’re pushing your body to exhaustion every workout. Over time, your body won’t recover well, and your strength will decline.
Instead, “save some strength in the bank.” Don’t use all your bullets; save some for your next workout and continue to make gains.
Often, gymgoers have every supplement and pre-workout drink known to man, but eat poorly otherwise.
Supplements are great, and essential to getting additional nutrients if you train hard, but it’s more important to eat a diet with plenty of nutrient-dense foods like vegetables, lean meats, fruits, fibrous, whole grains, and healthy fats. It’s amazing what that alone will do.
By eating whole foods, you’ll naturally build more muscle, feel more energized, sleep better, recover faster, and boost your metabolism – not to mention you’ll get an A+ on your blood and cholesterol tests.
4. Skipping carbs
Carbohydrates aren’t evil – far from it.
Carbs are energy. And if you’re doing intense, muscle-building workouts several times a week, you need carbs to refuel your muscles and optimize your body for the next workout.
If you’re trying to lose fat, you still need carbs. Rather than eliminate carbs, focus on the timing: eat them when you have a good carb tolerance, typically within 2 hours after a workout.
Also, use a good source of carbohydrates like sweet potatos, yams, quinoa, brown rice, or fruits.
This comes from the misconception that cardio is for weight-loss. If I want to gain weight, I should ditch cardio, right?
Well, cardio does much more than just burn calories – it strengthens the heart, clears cellular waste, and helps in recovery. It also develops the aerobic energy system, which fuels everything from a relaxing stroll to triple-overtime basketball game.
Also, if done at the right intensity, it burns fat and prevents you from adding love handles during a bulk.
This – again – comes from the misconception that cardio is for weight-loss. If I want to lose weight, more is better, right?
While cardio can help burn fat and calories, the focus of a cutting phase should be 1) your nutrition and 2) your strength training. When dropping weight, you risk losing muscle because you’re burning more energy (calories) than you’re consuming. Keep your workouts hard and heavy to maintain what you have.
Too much cardio, however, can fatigue your muscles and sap your strength.