How to Get Bigger by Avoiding the 6 Cardinal Sins of Training
If your progress has stalled, chances are you are committing one of the six cardinal sins of training.
Sin #1. Cherry picking exercises
If most of us had a choice, we’d do flyes and curls or things we are generally good at. They are fun and we can impress other gym members with the numbers we put up. The problem is that it will hurt your overall development.
if you are not progressing, make a list of exercises you’d love to avoid for reasons other that injury and start adding them back in. Lunges come to mind.
Related: How to Gain Muscle Fast
Most likely, the reason you are avoiding certain exercises is because you find them hard to do. Chances are the muscles you need for said exercises are not all that developed. Once you bring those dreaded exercises back into your routine, you ll see progress again since your body is forced to cope with a new challenge.
Sin #2. You don’t have a plan
You need to break down your year into 4-5 weeks blocks with specific goals for each block. I am a fan of progressive overload where you increase weights an intensity for four weeks and then back pedal for a week but you may also focus a specific body part for a month or run a mini-cut.
Whatever it is, you ll need a structure otherwise you are simply spinning your wheels.
Sin #3. Your pre and intra-workout is missing
Sure, you have you post-workout shake all lined up and ready to go. But what if I told you that pre and intra-workout nutrition matter as much if not more than post?
Why? Think of it this way. Whatever is in your body before the workout is the first defense against muscle loss as well as the fuel for your performance. Therefore, you should eat a low fat, medium carb, medium protein meal about 45 minutes before training. Think chicken with rice, oatmeal with egg whites, etc.
As for the intra workout shake, here is a neat little formula to figure out your caloric needs.
Every 2 work sets require 5 grams of glycogen.
So a 20 set workout will set you back 50 grams of carbs, protein would be about half that (20-25 grams). In this case, a scoop of whey mixed into a bottle of Gatorade would do it.
Sin #4. You don’t train often enough
Training frequency matters more than anything else. In fact, you should train every muscle twice week which spells death for most traditional splits. The reason being that you are leaving too many sessions on the table by under-using you time.
Muscles can recover within 48 hours. So you can train your chest more often that just on national chest day, aka Monday.
In order to achieve this, you can go push/pull/legs or Arnold-style and train chest/back, legs, and arms/shoulders, take one day off and repeat. As for overtraining, it is much more rare than you are led to believe.
As long as your sleep and nutrition are on point, you should be ok training 5-6 times a week.
Sin #5. You are too focused on numbers
Recently, people are obsessed with putting up big numbers on the bench, squat, etc. There is nothing wrong with that but low rep training is not optimal for hypertrophy.
Case in point: compare top powerlifters to top bodybuilders. Both have great genetics, both use drugs, both train hard, yet bodybuilders are that much bigger and more muscular.
The difference lies in their training: high rep work, rest pause sets and isolation exercises cause greater damage withing the muscle for a few reasons.
Here is why you should add sets with one of these techniques.
- High rep training also activates type 1 fibers, and even though these fibers have less potential for hypertrophy than type 2, they should not be neglected. Heavy sets with 1-4 reps do not provide enough stimulus for those fibers since they are more endurance orientated.
- You are missing out on the pump. The pump ensures proper circulation of nutrients, increase hypoxia and the cellular swelling can cause in increase in glycogen storage (since glycogen loves water) along with diminished protein breakdown. All this translates to greater hypertrophy.
6. Your intensity is too low
Very often, my gym looks like a Starbucks with weights. We even have free Wi-Fi so people can do Skype calls on the leg curl machine. True story!
All kidding aside: cell phones killed training intensity. The solution is simple: do not bring your phone!
I know, you need it for the music. But VERY few people have the discipline to put it on music alone and train (I know I don’t). having the phone around is almost a guarantee that he breaks between sets will be too long.
Why does this matter? Because shorter rest intervals (think 90 seconds or there about) have been associated with an increased anabolic hormonal response, particularly testosterone and growth hormone.
So get an iPod shuffle for your tunes – it is also more stable in case you drop it or put a dumbbell on top. As for the social media aspect, one post workout selfie should is proof enough that you went to the gym.