5 Habits That Are Hurting Your Gains
5 Habits That Are Hurting Your Gains
Gaining muscle mass can seem like a confusing process when you give it a go. You can burn yourself out for months on end and find yourself with little to no results to show for it. But as a matter of fact, it's actually quite simple; millions have done it, and there is a ton of information to aid you in your journey. You just need to watch out to the details that you're missing.
Here are 5 habits that might be hurting your gains.
We all love the weekend, and we all wait for it in hope for some relief from our hectic weeks of work or study. As soon as the week is over, we're off to some club or bar where we'll get dead smashed before we devour whatever horrendously unhealthy meal that our intoxicated bodies crave at the moment. That's fine; you don't need to become a monk in order to get in shape. But if you're looking to build an exceptional physique, you'll have to give up on certain parts of the typical weekend that you're used to spending or at least practice these habits less frequently.
If you feel like it's too hard to control yourself on the weekend, then give yourself a small challenge; for 30 days straight you'll pass on those outings where there is alcohol and food that you know is incompatible with your body goals. Just one month, and by the end of it, you can go back to your weekend insanity, but by then you will have become able to control your urges while enjoying your time out, and the urges themselves will not be as strong as they seemed to be. You'll find that you can actually spend a night out without chugging a bunch of cocktails and munching down on a Big Mac afterward.
Sets of 12
There's this magic number 12 that has become almost universally adopted in weight training. Sets of 10-12 reps are the norm, and usually, 3 of these sets are done for every exercise. This number is often used for its own sake without the slightest clue of why it became the magic number in the first place.
So, here's the reason.
In order to reach hypertrophy, which is the growth of your muscle cells, you need your muscles to spend at least 45 seconds under tension in each set. That's the main aim.
Let's say you're doing bench presses. If you spend an average of 1 second pushing upward (concentric phase), another second in an isometric pause (fixed on your upward position) then 3 seconds on the way back down (eccentric phase), then you're spending 5 seconds per rep.
In a set, your body will have spent 60 seconds (5 seconds x 12 reps) under tension.
This surpasses that 45-seconds threshold, which makes the exercise effective. If, however, you spend an average of 3 seconds per rep because you're rushing the workout in order to hit the 12-rep bar, then you're putting more emphasis on the magic number than on the actual results. Three seconds per rep means that for each set your muscles will have only spent 36 seconds under tension, making them ineffective and thus keeping you from making the gains that you wish for.
Ignoring Compound Exercises
We go to the gym with the ultimate goal of bettering our shape and reaching a certain ideal physique in our heads. Soon after we begin lifting weights, we start checking ourselves out in the mirror in search of the muscles to focus on in our next workout. "I need to focus on those biceps" or "that chest needs a pump," you would tell yourself. A lot of people would immediately resort to isolation exercises in order to catch quick results then complain that they're not getting the results they're looking for. That's usually because they're missing out on the basic compound heavy lifting.
Yeah, we forget that this remains necessary.
By heavy we mean weights that would get you to the point of fatigue after 8-10 reps; exercises where you would maintain a strict posture and work with your loads. For example, squats, deadlifts, dips, and so on. You can't expect to build a proper physique without building its strength, and the isolated workouts do not do this. You will have to find the right balance between isolated workouts and compound heavy lifting.
Excessive Cardio Training
Cardio is important for your health and might help you stay lean, but overdoing it will definitely prove to be counterproductive. First off, while building muscle, you obviously need as much energy as you can in order to produce force which can help you increase your time under tension (TUT) during your workouts. Burning yourself out on the treadmill will definitely affect your total force generation capacity, which in turn will hurt your gains.
Also, excessive cardio has been proven to cause a decline in testosterone levels, and in men, this has the effect of promoting the storage of body fat and decreasing the person's total lean mass. Add on top of that the fact that low-intensity cardio teaches your body the efficient use of energy, which means that it learns to use as little calories as possible for as long as possible. That's exactly the opposite of what you want to do while bulking up. You want your body to burn insane amounts of calories as you throw in more for it to burn. That's how you create gains. You can throw in some high-intensity cardio into your bulking program, but keep it at levels that don't affect your muscle recovery.
You can religiously stick to your diet, hit the gym every day, get 8 hours of sleep every night, and still not see the results you're hoping for because you're not making water an essential part of your day. That's ironic given that it consistently drinking water is definitely the easiest and most effortless bodybuilding requirement to stick to, albeit the most disregarded.
Your dehydration levels affect you at every point of the bodybuilding process, from the workout itself to the recovery. If you're not dehydrated, even partially, you'll reach fatigue and nausea very easily during your workouts. You certainly won't be in optimal shape to perform well. You have to enter your workout sessions while properly hydrated and make sure to drink throughout it. The general recommendation is 1-1.5 liters throughout the course of the day, but if you're sweating heavily (and you should if you're hitting the gym) then you'll need more.
13 Habits that Hurt Your Chances of Gaining Lean Muscle Mass. (2018, May 21). Retrieved from https://www.mensjournal.com/health-fitness/13-habits-hurt-your-chances-gaining-lean-muscle-mass/
SimplyShredded.com. (2010, August 24). Retrieved from http://www.simplyshredded.com/time-under-tension-the-scientifically-engineered-set-timing-technique-2.html
ShannonClarkFitness. (2018, July 25). 6 Mistakes That Are Killing Your Gains. Retrieved from https://www.bodybuilding.com/content/6-mistakes-that-are-killing-your-gains.html