Do you really have to bulk up and get fat to build muscle?

You absolutely don’t have to put fat on to build muscle. This is just a myth that was passed down many years ago from old school body builders, that just wanted an excuse to eat more food!

It’s actually really detrimental to your health when you start accumulating fat stores. You do run the risk of developing insulin resistance, and then causing some hormonal dysfunction. It’s unfortunate that when you get into that spiral of eating, your body uses muscle to burn as energy, instead of fat. This is what will make it even harder to lose body fat over time. I suggest you take another look at something a lot more user friendly, as well as a strategy that can be used within your lifestyle that’s easy – not to mention effective.

Here are some mistakes that many people make whilst trying to put on muscle mass, in which I would recommend avoiding as much as possible. It could possibly help other people who weight train and may prove to become an integral part of their progression.

6 mistakes people make when trying to gain muscle mass (or bulking)

  1. Using isolated exercises too often, omitting the impactful multi joint lifts.
    If you want to put on muscle, you need to use the largest groups on your body, regularly and with alternate strategic exercises. These are squats, lunges, bench presses, deadlifts etc. You won’t get much growth from leg lifts, triceps kickbacks and lateral raises. In order to grow muscle, you need to recruit your large-scale motor units.
    We are genetically built for carrying, lifting and trying to fight against gravity in everyday life. Stick to these types of moments within your routine, and watch your strength, muscle growth and stamina reach its peak potential
  2. Always keeping your repetitions too low.
    Now, please do not misinterpret this, because we do need to practice our heavy lifts, with lower reps – this builds strength. If you want hypertrophy, you must focus on the opposite, which is moderate to high reps and sets. Occasional higher reps, even when working to failure, is a great alternative as well. You can use these as finishers in your program (I do this regularly to increase growth). Your best weight training program uses both high reps and low repetitions, therefore, alternating cycles of these will help you channel strength increases and muscle growth in union.
  3. Too much caffeine daily to keep yourself alert.
    Keep in mind that stimulants – such as high strength caffeine increases your cortisol. If you are just about to get to the gym, having a black cup of coffee, or taking your pre-workout with caffeine will help make your workout a lot more manageable and effective. Once you finish your workout, you should aim to cut the intake of any coffee or caffeinated drinks moving forward. Just focus on re-hydration and nutrition.
  4. Keep your hydration up – make sure you drink lots of water.
    Hydration is key to gaining mass, as dehydration can lead to increases in cortisol, and many other negative effects on the body. You should aim to drink at least 2–3 litres of water per day – even more so when the temperatures are warmer, or you are more active than usual. A good way to measure this is with a bottle that contains measurements. This will help you keep on track of your hydration goals.
  5. Not consuming enough protein.
    People often assume they are hard gainers, when in fact, they may not be consuming enough protein to fuel their hypertrophy goals. Keep it simple, and make sure you are consuming 1.5 grams of protein per kg of body weight. If you are unsure of how much protein you need per day, this is a sure-fire way you aren’t getting nearly enough. Do the math and stick to it.

  1. Not taking control of your insulin sensitivity.
    Insulin sensitivity determines how much body fat we lose, and muscle mass we can gain. If you are very insulin sensitive, your body will easily shuttle carbohydrates into the muscle cells. If you have poor insulin sensitivity, the nutrients will be transitioned into your fat cells! This is exactly the reason why I do not recommend bulking. When you strength train, watch your diet, choose the right fat sources (and allow some time) you will greatly increase your insulin sensitivity. Supplements that can help you are carnitine – which helps you to burn more fat stores, and probiotics, which assist the growth of good bacteria, and improve your glucose update and energy usage.

I do hope this may help someone along their hypertrophy journey. If you appreciate this, why not stick with my ranting via my website or join me on fb and insta social. Please feel free to upvote this answer if it has been useful in some way to you.

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