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Struggling to Build Muscle?

by | Apr 27, 2023 | Advice

“I’m hitting the gym 4 times a week”

“My calories are in line with what I need to build muscle, but I can’t seem to progress my lifts?”

“My weights have stagnated, I just can’t get past that deadlift PB?”

Does this sound like you?

Use this checklist to ensure you are ticking all the boxes to smash those big lifts!

Training on an empty stomach WON’T build muscle

Make sure you eat at least 1 hour before you train – ensuring the meal is high in protein and carbohydrates, meaning you’ll have enough energy to push through a hard session. Keep fibre and fats to a minimum as these are slow-absorbing.

Lack of energy WON’T build muscle

Take any pre-workouts no later than 30 minutes BEFORE the session, I see frequently people sipping highly caffeinated sparkling beverages during the workout. Now there’s nothing inherently bad about this BUT if the sole purpose of that drink is for the caffeine, whether it’s to wake you up or give you a bit of a boost then you are missing out. It usually takes between 5 and 30 minutes for us to feel the benefits of caffeine, so with that in mind, I recommend caffeine 30 minutes before your session to get the maximal effects.

Not resting long enough WON’T build muscle

In my opinion, this is the most important one. Underestimating the importance of rest periods is a real problem. Ensure you structure your training with non-negotiable rest periods. Rushing exercises and having short rest periods will only end in sub-par lifts, injury and a very fast onset of fatigue. As a general rule, for compound (multi-joint) lifts, the longer the rest period, the better you are able to perform. I usually allow 3-4 minutes. So, take that rest, breathe, visualise the lift, focus, and really dial yourself in ready for that next set.

Increasing the intensity of your sets WILL build muscle

Are you coming in and doing 4 sets of 10 reps on every exercise, but after the last set you could do another? This means the weight wasn’t heavy enough and/or you could have done more reps. Test yourself and increase that weight, go for 8 reps where you struggle with the last 2 reps. Now try to make that a 10-rep set in the next month. If you follow this approach on every exercise you WILL see progress, not only in the weight you are moving but also in your physique.

Every exercise you perform at the right intensity will challenge your trunk stability (the core muscles). So, if you need another excuse for lifting heavier, then this is it. As you work hard, your abs will work hard. You will tighten up around the waist and have better control over your spinal position! It’s a WIN-WIN!

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