There could be a number of reasons why you are not receiving the gains you like. Six months is definitely ample time to make some progress, although depending on weather you already have muscle mass now, and how much more you want to add. A novice trainer should have a lot more success with initial gains.
I will highlight some mistakes that anyone of us could make when trying to put on muscle and lose body fat. Hopefully these may help you or anyone else who’s having the same challenge.
5 common mistakes that are stopping your gains
- Not enough volume of training. Higher volume is what makes our body composition change. You must develop your strength in order to handle the volume and power you need to gain some significant muscle mass. Here are the 3 main components of volume:
– Muscle damage: Train to failure or using eccentric enhanced training causes muscle damage or small disruptions within the muscle fibres. This means muscle needs to be repaired. The process of repair leads to growth factors, stimulating the muscles to enhance. The muscle cells swell with fluid (that awesome pump) which enhances protein synthesis and leads to your muscles growing in size.
– Tension: Contracting muscles produce tension. When you are lifting a heavy weight, tremendous amounts of tension are being repeatedly produced, activating genetic pathways to produce tissue growth. Over a certain amount of time, muscle grows larger and stronger.
– Metabolic stress: The body uses energy without oxygen, then it releases metabolites such as lactate and hydrogen ions and cytokines. Growth hormone is then released and testosterone. This is ideal combination to trigger muscle development and fat loss.
- Not structuring your training sessions correctly: Programs for muscle mass need to be designed in 3–6-week phases (all dependent on your experience) It should always progressively increase as the amount of weight you lift gets heavier. Focus on multi joint exercises in the beginning of your workouts, as these train the entire body for both aesthetics and functional strength. Be consistent and stick with it.
- Not focusing on strength. It’s extremely important to implement training within your programs, which focus on strength phases. Too many programs are focused on higher reps and increased intensity for fat loss but neglecting the heavy training phases that are needed to maintain strength and hit those high threshold motor units in the muscles. This means, many of your muscles are not being trained -which is like leaving your gains on the table.
The heavier the weights, the more motor units will be channelled, therefore more muscles get trained – this is crucial if you want to optimise your body composition and put on some serious muscle.
- Being insulin resistant. The more sensitive you are to insulin, the more your muscle mass will increase and the easier it will be to lose body fat. Although, nutrition needs to be a core focus for this to happen. Ins is an anabolic hormone, and drives nutrients into muscle cells whereas when you are resistant to insulin, you’re more likely to store the food you eat as fat. Even people that are somewhat lean have some insulin imbalances. The best way to combat this is to implement intermittent fasting into your lifestyle, reduce your inflammation by eating a nutrient rich diet with plenty of protein, green vegetables and regulating your carbohydrate intake.
Doing too much cardio. This is a big killer of any gains. It’s so common for people to use cardio as a fat burning mechanism, when you should be monitoring your nutrition and focusing on conditioning your body through weight training. So do focus on high quality weight training and only resort to interval training if you really need to. Make your diet a priority and focus on those core nutrients that make all the