“I work out for x months now, nothing is happening!” “I train my biceps, but I always get sore in the shoulder!” “I train like mad, but I don’t get stronger!” Here are five very common reasons for these frustrations and how to solve them.
1. You Use Too Little Weight
Your muscles grow when they have to work against resistance big enough to induce muscle growth. Imagine you click a ballpoint pen for 12 reps in 3 sets (seriously!) – will your thumb become stronger if you keep this up for weeks or even months? Nope, because the resistance you are working against is far below the threshold at which muscle growth starts to happen.
You could also go and do this for 100, 200 or 500 times, but in that case you would only train your muscle endurance, which mainly involves what are called “slow-twitch muscle fibers”. These are responsible for tasks that are done for long stretches of time, but they don’t need to grow a lot bigger to get better at their work.
Therefore you need to involve your “fast-twitch fibers”, which make up the bulk of what you see as, well, your bulked muscles. This generally happens when you work against resistances where you can’t do more than 15 reps in a set.
2. You Use Too Much Weight
That’s the other angle: People highly overestimating how much weight they should be using.
Imagine yourself wanting to do a biceps curl with a dumbbell and you load that dumbbell with 30 lbs, but to be then able to do the curl movement, you actually have to lean back and forth your upper body and start swinging motions with your entire arm.
What you end up exercising is a whole lot of muscles and only a fraction of the action comes from the biceps – it’s no wonder that it won’t grow.
To get the most out of an exercise, especially when it comes to isolations, try to do the movements almost in textbook-worth form. Watching yourself in a mirror or having a good spotter does wonders here.
3. You Begin With The Wrong Workouts
Thanks to magazines and websites recommending “amazing” workout plans done by professionals with 10 years of experience, especially beginners are often prone to start with workouts not really suitable for them.
For a seasoned trainee doing a 5-day-split with tons of isolations can be the right thing. But a beginner doesn’t yet have the foundation for these exercises and also doesn’t know how they should actually feel when done correctly. They often end up exercising totally different muscles than they think they are.
Picture it like building a house: First you lay a solid foundation, which is as exciting to look at as sitting in a traffic jam. The bells and whistles, the bathroom with jacuzzi and the cool furniture, come last. Don’t set your furniture up on a construction site.
4. You Stay With The Same Workout Too Long
Experienced trainees, on the other hand, are sometimes prone to “exercise x always worked so well, I always do it” or “I saw the best gains with workout y”. But if your body does the same thing for too long, it gets used to it.
I always loved dumbbell rows and did them for months on end, until I finally realized that for a long time actually hadn’t found it possible to increase weight on those. I still didn’t want to believe that sticking with my beloved rows was the problem and tried all kinds of variations: drop sets, pyramids etc. It didn’t work and I looked the cold, hard fact in the face: this exercise for now should better be left out.
Instead I tried to incorporate pullovers into my training. Those I had originally hated, because they gave me shoulder pain. But I finally sat down and examined the cause for this and saw that I simply had to prepare my shoulders with some isolations. This took care of the pain and pullovers became quite enjoyable. In fact, the first time I went full weight with them, the next day I felt my latissimi more than I had ever felt them with dumbbell rows.
5. You Have The Wrong Expectations
This is probably the biggest cause of people being dissatisfied with their results: Commercials, advertisements, magazines and websites raising very unrealictic expectations about how much size can be gained in x amount of time.
In reality, what is promised there almost never happens, but people of course then often think it’s their fault, that they are doing something wrong or, worst, that there is something wrong with them.
Forget all those promises and simply keep in mind that as long as you are getting stronger, you are doing it right.
More Reasons Or Totally Wrong?
Did I leave something out? Are there more or other reasons why sometimes workouts don’t work? Or is it all rubbish? I’d love to hear your take on this!
Picture courtesy of “cumi&ciki“.