Are you looking to put on muscle?
Don't know where to start?
Not making any progress?
I'm hoping this article will help you out.
I launched my LET'S GET MASSIVE! programme earlier this month and it reminded me of a few mistakes that we want to avoid when in the gym.
You can find out more about LGM! here.
I am a big believer in effective habits making the results you see before you. It's rare to see healthy people in good shape who don't have a great set of habits to help them stay in shape.
But what if you don't have those habits yet?
Many people will start from a place with a few bad habits that we can change to improve your results.
Mistake/Bad Habit #1 Eating Isn't A Priority
Skinny guys and gals have a tendency not to listen to their hunger signals on days off because when they are work or at school they have a routine to eat around. They don't need to feel hungry because the routine dictates when to eat.
When there isn't a routine many skinny or underweight people simply don't eat.
If that sounds like you then you need to change this in order to get the best results.
Remove the days that don't have an eating routine and create times where you eat by preparing your meals in advance, simply making a plan and sticking to it or be creative with alarms or something similar.
Do what you need to do to create a routine that allows you to get enough calories in no matter what.
Underweight or skinny people also skip meals because when practically ANYTHING stressful happens it increases the likelihood they won't eat because not eating gives them a sense of control in a stressful situation or eating isn't a high enough priority.
Normally it's because of eating being such a low priority.
If eating isn't a priority it takes the smallest excuse or justification in order for someone to skip a meal.
Prioritise eating or you'll never add the size, muscle and strength that you are working so hard for.
Mistake/Bad Habit #2 Ineffective Programming
To get the best results in the gym we need to make sure we are following the right plan.
Luckily when you first start training pretty much any plan will build muscle as long as the person is consistently eating enough.
Even someone starting a running programme will build muscle if they were sedentary beforehand.
These are our famous NEWBIE GAINS.
But you'd never recommend a bodybuilder to follow a running plan to build a lot of muscle!
So what programme should someone follow?
To get the best results we need to train our entire body each week to stop the newbie gains running out incredibly quickly.
What many people will start doing is something like the below:
Monday- Chest + Biceps
Tuesday- Back + Triceps
There are a couple of issues with this kind of plan:
1) Each muscle group is only trained once a week
2) There is x3 times the amount of upper body work compared with the amount of lower body work
3) It's over-complicated and can be done in a far simpler way
So instead of splitting the training week by body part I would split the training week into either 4 whole body sessions or by using 2 lower body sessions and 2 upper body sessions so you hit each muscle group AT LEAST 2 TIMES EACH WEEK.
This is how you get the best results.
In the LET'S GET MASSIVE programme we perform 4 whole body sessions each week and break the week down as follows:
Monday- Whole Body A
Wednesday- Whole Body B
Friday-Whole Body C
Saturday- Whole Body D
Make sure your plan is hitting each muscle group at least x2 times a week if possible to keep those gains rolling in.
Mistake #3 Not Training Hard Enough
There are many ways to not train hard enough.
Here are some I'm going to name of the top of my head
Not going heavy enough
Performing exercises through a shortened range of motion
Too much rest
Lazy exercise selection
Not training legs
Not performing supersets
Not controlling the eccentric portion of many lifts
Only performing exercises you like
Being too relaxed in the gym
Sacking off the gym to go swimming (i.e the hot tub)
Not going to the gym regularly enough
Lifting the same weight week after week
I've missed about a million others but this covers most bases.
Especially as you get older every single session doesn't need to be FUCKING BEAST MODE IS ON!!!!! some people might think so but that attitude is going to result in a broken human. Broken humans don't get the best results!
Sessions should be GOLDILOCKS DIFFICULT rather than every session becoming a feat of survival.
Here are some general guidelines to keep you training hard and effectively enough to help you avoid the issues above.
Creating Goldilocks Level sessions:
1) Try to improve on something in your workout each week
2) Get a coach
3) Always train through a full pain-free range of motion- don't cut a movement short because you've put more weight on the bar. If you have to cut down the range of motion then you have gone too heavy
4) Gradually increase the amount of weight you are lifting
5) Have no more than 3-4 minutes as an absolute max between sets (if someone is using the equipment you want have an alternative!)
6) If you can do 2 more reps at the end of your set and your movement is goo it's time to try upping the weight
7) Train in an environment offering support and encouragement
8) Make sure you've had enough calories and water before your session to make sure you don't feel faint
9) Make sure you aren't overheating while training as this can hugely reduce performance
10) Go into each session with an intent to push yourself and do all of your plan
If you struggle with these from time to time that is to be expected and normal. Just make sure you address whatever is causing you to have a bad session. Once this is resolved you can get back to training effectively.
How will you know when you are training effectively?
It's simple really.
You'll see results over time.
You'll see muscle growth and you'll improve in strength.
If you feel you do train hard and effectively enough then the problem lies outside of the gym.
Address those issues. Speak to coaches and professionals who can help you and build a strong healthy body that makes you happy and fulfilled.
Be happy. Be strong. Be fulfilled.
By Chris Kershaw
Chris is a Personal Trainer, Strength Coach, writer, man of small stature and reader of The Discworld Series with a decade of experience in the industry.
He trains everyone from beginners to high level athletes. His favourite clients are people getting into the gym for the first time because they can make the biggest changes in their lives.
You can reach me through the email address firstname.lastname@example.org
My Instagram is Chris_Kershaw_Strength.
Thank you for reading!