Five Guidelines to Help you Overcome the Challenge of Building Muscle

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Take the expert’s advice when it comes to top performance

Gaining muscle is a simple but complex process that requires some knowledge and skill of how our bodies best respond to the stimulus of lifting weight. Every single person is unique in their response to weight training. With that in mind, it does take time and effort (quite possibly for life) to build and maintain muscle. But, the good news when you start the journey, it won’t take you a long period of time to build an excellent base of muscle mass. The problem lies when you get to a particular threshold and find it hard to take it to the next level. Usually, this happens when reaching your muscle-building capacity. It requires some intervention and a little bit of hard work. Here I will give you some insights and tips that have helped me build upon my foundational levels. 

Five challenging aspects of building muscle and how to overcome them

One: Plan your programs well

It amazes me how many people go into a gym without a clear plan of what they are going to tackle, as well as writing down their chosen exercises. I understand that this is a learnt skill, but goals and plans need to be in place for results to manifest. There are two different ways to structure your programs. One is a hypertrophy phase, and the other is a strength phase. To succeed,  it’s essential to cater to both and diminish any chances of becoming despondent to training. You want to make sure your body never hits a training plateau but increase and pivot between different protocols. Variety creates interest in your workouts. If you keep this in mind when developing programs, you will get some remarkable results — and this is apparent with both men and women. 

Two: Correct training technique is critical

The mind and muscle connection are so important when training. If you are performing repetitions without conscious awareness of things like tempo & time under tension — you may not get any results. Haphazard movements can cause injury and lead to structural imbalances. It’s important to be aware of the speed of the movement and the contraction of the muscle. It will feel like a burning sensation. You won’t miss that one! It’s essential to get to the point where you cannot move the weight anymore. Full range of motion is also challenging for some people. Something like the squat can be quite challenging to perform. The saying “ass to grass” is brutal but effective. Your goal in training is to perform a full range of motion to recruit the most muscle — therefore, growth. 

Three: Varying the speed in which you lift, as well as counting your tempo.

Tempo is the speed at which you lift and lower the weight. The best way to perform the lowering phase is 3–6 seconds, with a faster lifting speed to allow more time under tension. It takes practice, and you may have to count out loud for a while until you get used to the process, and it becomes an unconscious habit. It would be best to remember that you don’t want to go too slow or fast. The only time you won’t do this is in a circuit training session. Circuit training is best  for fat loss due to the continuous rapid movements. 

Four: Using machines instead of performing compound exercises

Using weight baring machines is sometimes the most convenient and straightforward way to perform an exercise. I recommend you only use weight baring machines if you are injured, inexperienced or as a finisher to your workout — why? Compound movements result in magical benefits. These are my absolute favourite exercise and are hated by many. Think of squats, deadlifts, lunges, bench presses, chin and pull-ups. These exercises recruit the most muscle fibres, which means more growth, strength and loss in body fat! Master these exercises by performing some of them whenever you work out. I learnt how to do them by watching professionals and then trying it out — perhaps with no weight. Once you master these, your results will magnify. But, remember, it’s only hard because you haven’t done them. 

Five: And of course, what about nutrition?

Yes! Nutrition is a hard one, and I can only give general advice. Trying to work out how much protein, carbs and fat you need is very important, but unfortunately, these numbers fluctuate daily. There is one strategy that helps with this challenge —  Intermittent fasting! If you want to gain muscle, you will need to eat well, but not in excess. It would be best to find a happy medium, and the faster you discover this, the quicker your results. 

Don’t forget that weight loss is a journey — and one that never ends. You will always have to put on your awareness hat; making sure you do everything necessary for attaining weight loss and a healthy, energetic body. 

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