What’s the hardest thing about gaining muscle?

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. One person may find it easy, whilst someone else will need to train using different strategies. Both are quite distinct, and it has everything to do with your genetic disposition.

If you have been lucky enough to receive help from a personal trainer (a knowledgeable one that is) you will have developed some great skills and expertise. Some of have not walked down that path (perhaps not yet). Let me get into the nitty gritty of what building muscle is all about, as well as give you some strategies that can improve your own performance.

5 challenging aspects of building muscle, and how to overcome them

  1. Plan your programs well, or fail in achieving your goals.
    It amazes me how many people go into a gym without a clear plan on what they are going to tackle, as well as writing down their chosen exercises. I do understand that this is a learnt skill, but goals and plans need to be in place in order for results to form.

    There are 2 different ways to structure your programs. One is a hypertrophy phase, and the other is a strength phase. In order to succeed in training a balanced physique, one must cater to both of these in order for the body to respond rapidly, and diminish any chances of becoming despondent to training. You definitely want to make sure your body never hits a training plateau, but increase and pivot between different protocols. This also creates variety and interest in your own workouts. If you keep this in mind when creating programs, you will get some awesome results – and this is apparent with both men and women.

  2. Correct training technique is key.
    The mind and muscle connection is an old one, but one that holds true. If you are repping out your session, not even conscious of things like tempo, time under tension, and just unconsciously lifting weight, you are not going to get any results. Haphazard movements can cause injury and lead to structural imbalances.
    One must be aware of the speed of the movement, and the contraction of the muscle. This can be felt as a burning sensation. This is what you want! It’s essential to get to the point of where you simply cannot move the weight anymore.
    Full range of motion is also a tough one for some people. Something like the squat, is not correctly executed. The notion “ass to grass” is one that’s extremely challenging, but extremely effective. Your goal in training is to always perform a full range of motion, in order recruit the most motor units – therefore growth.
  3. Varying the speed in which you lift, as well as counting your tempo.
    Tempo is the speed in which you lift and lower the weight. The best speed in which to perform the lowering phase is 3–6 seconds, with a faster lifting speed in order to allow more time under tension. This takes some 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.
    One thing you must remember, is that you don’t want to go too slow or too fast. Going against the grain in a positive way, would be when you perform circuit training. This is by no means the kind of session where you will gain much muscle, but more focused on fat loss, due to the non stop lifting or weights within different exercises. Even though you pivot from different exercises, it’s still really important to perform them properly
  4. Using machines instead of performing compound exercises.
    Using machines is sometimes the most simple and convenient way to perform an exercise, especially when you are inexperienced. I would recommend you only use machines if you are injured, or as a finisher to your workout – why?
    Because the magic is in the compound movements! These are my absolute favourite exercise, and hated by many. Think of squats, deadlifts, lunges, bench presses, chin and pull ups. These exercises recruit the most muscle fibres, and that means more growth, strength and loss in body fat! Master these exercises, and perform them whenever you work out. I would become an expert at these by watching lots and lots of professionals perform them, and then trying them in the gym – perhaps with no weight to start. As a personal trainer to help you as well. Once you master these, your results will magnify. Remember, it’s only hard because you haven’t done them.
  5. And of course, what about nutrition?
    Yes! Nutrition is a hard one, and one that I can only give general advice about. Trying to work out how much protein, carbs and fat you need are very important, but unfortunately, these numbers fluctuate on a daily basis. What I tell clients is to develop a baseline, and then begin trusting that their bodies will let them know how much they need on any given day. There are a few strategies to help with this, and I save this information for my one on one clients, and I’ll give you a hint.. Intermittent fasting!
    If you want to gain muscle, then you will need to eat well, but not in excess. You can find a happy medium and the faster you discover this, the better results you will have. Remember, protein is one aspect of this puzzle, it’s also about your nutritional timing too.

If you would like to keep in touch during your muscle building journey, please do contact me on these various platforms if you need further assistance. I have plenty of other material on my blog or join me on facebook and instagram account. Please feel free to upvote this answer.

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