With the plethora of muscle building information online and in offline magazines, you’d think there’d be enough advice to have nobody experiencing muscle gaining problems. Yet that’s hardly the case. People experiencing lackluster progress are ubiquitous, at gyms and in online chats, banging their heads against the wall in the frustration of muscle gains so minuscule that they’re hardly worth the time and effort of trekking to the gym and going through the motions. It’s a mini-tragedy when one considers that it doesn’t need to be that way; results can be commensurate with efforts – natural muscle gains can come steadily and without plateaus. This should be of interest to anyone who not only doesn’t like falling short of achieving what they’ve set out to accomplish – but wasting precious time in the process.
Let’s go over five natural ‘muscle gaining truths’ that are often at the root of the problem and you’re not likely to hear from many other sources. These are muscle gaining truths that are unique to natural bodybuilding – things I’ve discovered from years of trial and error. A couple of them were discovered from a simple willingness to drop the status-quo theories and go where most trainers won’t. Others are commonly repeated muscle building dogmas that simply need the addition of an important caveat. So let’s just jump in.
You Need Enough Food to Build Muscle… but…
… Eating too much food can actually slow down your progress. Your body has a finite amount of daily energy. It uses energy to digest and process food. It needs energy to recuperate worked out muscles. These are requirements in addition to the energy expended to go about your daily activities. Stuffing down mega daily calories in the 3,000 to 5,000 is NOT anabolic, but rather… energy draining. And it doesn’t force torn down muscle tissue to recuperate any faster
If you’re a slim guy or gal, you’ll likely hear a lot of self-appointed experts telling you to “eat more; you’re not eating enough.” But many will keep saying this even if you are eating enough and your slow muscle gains are due to something else. It’s easy to confuse the body’s lack of a tendency to deposit body fat with a difficulty in gaining muscle. Yet if a “fast metabolism” is the cause of your muscle gaining frustration, why is the fat person with a slow metabolism having no easier time of it?
The muscle gaining truth is this: Eat a high protein meal with some nutritious and energy-sustaining carbohydrates every three to three-and-a-half hours while taking in four to six meals per day. But don’t stuff down mega calories unless your goal is to get fat.
Workout Intensity is Important…but…
… Too much intensity is detrimental to progress. If you perform workouts that incorporate intensifying techniques like forced reps, drop sets, pre-exhaustion, super-sets…etc., you’re practically asking to hit a progress plateau.
I came to bodybuilding with a background in tough military training. I had a predilection for pushing my body and muscles to the max. It took me years of frustrating setbacks to finally get it through my thick skull that muscle building isn’t effective through application of a simple “the harder you work – the better your results” equation.
The muscle gaining truth is this: A certain amount of measured intensity for muscle growth stimulation is necessary. Anything beyond this might build character, but not much of a body.
Recuperation between Workouts is Key… but…
… Recuperation varies with a lot of factors. To think that your muscle building efforts will be successful because some guru told you that you only need exactly six days of rest after doing ‘workout X’ on Monday is ridiculous. YOU might need seven or eight days for your tissue to recuperate from that workout. And if you’re fifty-five years of age instead of twenty-five, you might need nine or ten days for that tissue to recuperate from the same workout.
Where did the notion originate saying muscle tissue needs 72 to 144 hours to recuperate and anything beyond that is atrophying? Have you ever asked yourself that? Did you ever see the hard evidence to prove it? I’ve never seen a friggin’ thing. Yet I have observed for over twenty-five years now that countless people adhering to this notion are going nowhere with their natural “muscle gains.”
What’s more, I’ve long been thumbing my nose at this bit of “bodybuilding wisdom” and reaping the rewards of doing so. How long do I take between the working of each body part? For concern of shocking you, let’s just say it could be counted in weeks instead of day. Do I have your attention yet?
Here’s the muscle gaining truth: Recuperation time requirement between workouts varies among people. It varies greatly with individual response to a given amount of workout intensity. It varies with age, gender, genetically determined hormone levels, daily stress levels, and a host of other minute factors. It even varies with respective muscular development; the more muscle you have, the more tissue there is that needs recuperation so you can develop further muscle. The only way for you to know how many days rest is optimal given a particular workout is through testing and attention to feedback.
You Do Want to “Gain Weight”… but…
… You really don’t want to gain fat. “Bulking up” or gaining body fat with the idea that it will make you stronger does not help you gain more muscle. Believe me, if it did, I might be the first in line at Cheesecake Factory to buy a week’s worth of “bulk-up food.”
You need to make the distinction in your mind between “gaining weight” and ‘gaining muscle.’ Of course, muscle has weight. But that doesn’t mean the prescription for gaining fat weight is the same as what’s needed for gaining muscle weight. To gain fat you simply need a daily caloric intake that exceeds your caloric expenditure. To gain muscle, you need more protein intake for tissue repair along with some additional carbs for workouts and the energy expenditure of tissue recuperation. It doesn’t take much; you don’t need mega-doses of calories.
Here’s a corollary: Don’t use the bathroom scale to constantly monitor your muscle gains. Muscle doesn’t accumulate on the body fast enough to make the scale a good short-term measuring device for success. Body weight gains that are seen in days and weeks are typically water and fat accumulated from excess sodium, water, and calories.
Instead, use your strength in the gym as a measuring stick of progress. Steady and uninterrupted strength gains (especially in the context of volume within time constraints) will eventually translate to solid weight gains of lean muscle mass.
So here’s the muscle gaining truth: “Gaining weight” is too general a description to convey the distinctive knowledge necessary to gain natural muscle. It connotes merely stuffing down extra calories and tossing around heavy weights as the prescription for a more muscular body. It’s nonsense. Bottom line: if you’re eating enough protein and carbs to build muscle and sustain energy but still not making muscle gains, try increasing your rest days between workouts.
Stuffing down excess calories when the tissue just needs more time to recuperate is a prescription for weight gain alright. But it will be “dead weight”; the kind that just hangs uselessly off your body.
Bodybuilding Supplements are Often a Waste of Money… but…
… Selectively using supplements in a way that’s merely “supplemental” to good eating habits and sound training practices can accelerate progress. The key is in selectivity and having everything else optimized prior to forking over hard-earned money on ‘supplemental’ help.
It’s in vogue these days among online bodybuilding experts to slam the supplement companies and to label them as pure rip-off operations. I remain cautious about such broad accusations and assert as with so many contexts – “there are good companies and bad ones, with effective supplements among the purely bottled garbage.”
Case in point: Creatine is a wonderful workout performance enhancer. Yet its ability to push your workouts to higher performance levels might necessitate more recuperation days between workouts in order to actually build muscle by capitalizing on its performance enhancement capabilities.
Here’s the muscle gaining truth: Bodybuilding supplements should be used selectively and on only a ‘supplemental’ basis to an optimized workout and recuperation program.
Imbibe these natural muscle gaining truths that few will tell you. They can get you on a trajectory toward getting a body that has your relatives more envious every time they see it.
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