The lifestyle which accompanies the goal of gaining muscle and strength is a complex, structured one. Progress can often be frustrating if you are not doing the right things at the right times. There are some common mistakes people often make whist making the initial steps toward gaining muscle, and here are the top 5...
Prior to adding any kind of weights, aim to learn the correct techniques of each lift. This will ensure your body is moving through the correct movement plane to induce growth in the area you are targeting. Poor flexibility can also lead to bad lifting technique, a particularly common example of this is when people first begin to squat and they move the force of the lift onto their toes, as opposed to the heels of the feet. This is often due to bad form and poor hip flexibility. If you are struggling with technique and hitting the correct muscles, seek professional assistance early on to help rectify this issue and set you on your way for correct, independent training in the future.
When you first enter a gym and see other people moving big weights, you may be tempted to keep up – don’t! Most of these people probably have years of weight training experience behind them and assuming you can keep up with minimal training experience is a quick way to an injury. Instead, focus solely on yourself and your performance, keeping technique and tempo the primary focus, whilst gradually increasing the weight you lift.
In order to grow good quality muscle, you must ensure you are taking in more calories than you are expending. At first this can seem like quite a burden and a big change to eating habits and lifestyle, but in order to give your body a chance, this is a necessity. Aim to drip feed your body and muscles with 5-6 smaller meals per day consisting of quality proteins, greens, and low g.i carbohydrates.
For a muscle to grow, it must be continually exposed to new stimulus. This can be achieved by progressively adding more weight to the loads you lift or changing up the exercises which target a specific body part. The only constructive way this can be achieve, is by logging the weights lifted and the type of exercise, allowing you to monitor progress and change your regime when you hit plateaus.
Perhaps the initial reason for going to the gym was social; your friends were going so you thought you’d tag alone. If your motive has now changed and you’re serious about building a better body, then you’ll need to make your training less social and more focused. The issue with training with friends – particularly more than one – is that recovery between sets often becomes stretched and thus, training intensity is sacrificed. If you are going to train with friends, try and train with just one other and insure that your training partner is someone who will always push the training intensity, as opposed to hindering it.
By Steve Watson
BSc Sports & Exercise Science