So you are working out and aren’t getting stronger or bigger? That is actually easy to fix if you avoid the pitfalls on your road to success.
1. You train without intensity
You only get stronger when your body has to work against a weight it considers difficult. The last rep in the final set you do of an exercise should be really, really difficult to perform. If you did that last rep and it felt like you could do another or even more, you aren’t working out with intensity.
The rule of thumb is to increase the weight once you are able to do three sets with 12 reps each. If you can do more than 15 reps, you are training endurance, and that doesn’t make muscles bigger.
2. You switch exercises too often
You want to train your arms and this week it’s dumbbell curls, next week it’s preacher curls and the one after that it’s hammer curls you do? If you go for that, you practically start out at square one every time you go back to one of the previous exercises. Because for each exercise your brain needs time learning to get all involved muscle fibers into the action and once that has taken place, those muscle fibers need some continuous input of the same ilk to be coaxed into becoming larger.
A good rhythm is to stay with a workout / an exercise for two months before you make changes.
3. Your nutrition sucks
You can have a great, heck, perfect workout schedule, where the synergists of the synergists of the stabilizer muscles are accounted for, but doing it without fuel and the right building blocks is like sitting in a Ferrari with an empty gas tank, staring at the blueprint of the great villa you want to live in.
4. You don’t keep track
Ok, you spent the entire weekend planning a negative bench press drop set pyramid supersetting with forced negatives workout and start doing it on Monday. How do you know that that complicated rigmarole increases your strength if you don’t keep track of progress over the next weeks?
This can easily be rectified with a simple piece of paper where you write down what you did with how much weight and how many reps you managed.
5. You don’t rest enough
Many, many guys, especially when they start working out, think more is better, and venture into a program they do from Mondays to Wednesdays, repeat it from Thursdays to Saturdays, then Sundays to Tuesdays etc. etc. etc. As your muscles don’t grow during training, only after, that leaves them little room to do that growing.
Giving the body at least one entire day of rest (rest as in “no, you won’t be doing light exercises either”) can increase results dramatically.
6. You use too much weight
Practically the opposite of #1. The dumbbells look cool when you put four 20 lbs plates on them. But if you then have to bend your entire upper body back to do biceps curls, you aren’t actually exercising your biceps all that much – you are doing more of a lower back workout.
If with the weight you are using you can’t do at least three to five reps with proper form it’s too much and you are sabotaging yourself and your progress.
7. You do the same thing for too long
While changing things too often is counterproductive, the same is also true about doing the same exercises or workouts for too long.
You can stay with an exercise, but vary the intensity from medium (8 – 12 reps) to high (5 – 8 reps) or do it as a pyramid (3 – 4 – 5 – 4 – 3 reps) etc. Once you have exhausted that, you can switch the exercise for one that targets the same main muscle, but calls in different synergists. Together with the intensity from #1, this will always provide your body with new and engaging challenges. Once again, the rule of thumb is every two months.