Everyday I run into people in the gym who all share this common problem. The simple truth is that a lot of people struggle when it comes to building muscle, and if you ever have struggled to develop size, or the results aren’t coming as quickly as you expected, you are certainly not alone. The human body is a complicated thing, so it’s simple accountability that your physiology is unique and building muscle isn’t as simple for each individual. No, that does not mean you’re doomed, and your body just does not build muscle. Different things work for different people, but there are very simple principles which new or experienced weight trainers can tend to overlook.

1. Consuming TOO much protein, and TOO little carbohydrates

This reality check has been a long time coming. Don’t worry, it’s easy to make this very simple mistake with the abundance of poor quality nutritional information travelling around gym forum boards.

“250-300 grams of protein per day is necessary if you want to build muscle”. – some misinformed Bodybuilding.com troll.

That’s just an example, but it isn’t far from the truth. Suggesting such an excess of protein is completely unnecessary and ludicrous. A commonly theory which also misleads many is that you can substitute a low carbohydrate count with an excess of extremely high protein. This is NOT TRUE. In fact, what many people fail to understand is that carbohydrates also play their own unique role in muscle growth.

During an intense weight training session, your blood sugar levels significantly reduce. When you consume carbohydrates in your post workout meal, it gives your body an insulin spike. Why this insulin spike is crucial is because it puts your body into an anabolic state, which allows your body to build muscle.

This is significantly better than the reverse effect which is a catabolic state, a state which breaks down muscle to use as energy, which can be provoked by eating too little.

2. Research, Research, Research!

If the first step made you think then that only reinforces this next point further. It’s vital to follow up your training/diet with RESEARCH. With the internet and misinformed forum boards, we have entered what I like to call “The Age of Bro-Science”. And it’s okay, because a lot of people misinterpret things, that’s just who we are, we’re human. That’s why individual research with back up sources and fact checking is a must. I like to use this saying when I come across people in the gym worried about their form or asking whether the advice they have heard. 10 different people will tell you how to do 10 different things, 10 different ways. That’s simply how easy it is for people to be misinformed. To avoid getting caught up in a giant game of Chinese whispers around your local gym, listen to industry experts. They are out there and waiting for your subscription to their youtube page. It’s worthwhile and a little bit of time can boost the detail in your training and get you much quicker results than you may expect.

3. Timing your meals

Enough with the easy steps! Let’s get into the more difficult stuff. This step is challenging. If there’s one thing that will discipline and require consistency, it’s meal planning and timing. Meal timing and planning is where 95% of errors, and subsequently results are made.

We all know that both protein and carbohydrates have individual roles in muscle growth but the questions which follow (When? Why? How much?) are still left to be answered.

Your body is a car and carbohydrates are fuel. Meanwhile, protein is you servicing your car. I’m sure you would’ve come across this outdated analogy once, twice or more likely, a thousand times, but the reason so many people use it and it will be continued to be used is because it is still incredibly valid. This is because your muscles are very similar to a car except every time you use them, you intend to smash them.

It’s important, if you’re serious about training, to plan your meals accordingly to first and foremost, when in the day you’ll train. It is recommended that you eat a pre workout one to two hours before training of low G.I carbs, so that your body can use these carbs which moderately digest as an energy source when you train. Incorporate this pre workout meal as you would with one of the regular portions you would have in your daily plan.

Given that you’re training one to two hours later, the carbohydrates won’t bloat you whilst you train. Including protein in this meal will also not go astray. It’s important to consider adding protein to this meal as it will keep your body in an optimal anabolic state whilst you push the stacks and burn through the energy from the carbohydrates.

Now, what about the meal after training? The makeup of the nutrients for each meal aren’t quite as different as you would think. What is more important than anything is that the post workout meal contains a high amount of protein, to provoke the onset of protein synthesis. However, what people disregard about this meal, and what I mentioned in the first point, is that carbohydrates should not be disregarded in this meal. A small portion of high G.I, fast acting carbs will spike insulin sending your body in anabolic state to use the protein most effectively.

4. Train Smarter, Time effectively and hard

Bodybuilding is one of the very few cases where more is not necessarily more.

Picture the biggest, swolest bodybuilder at your gym. I’m sure a lot of generalisations come to your mind. This is the most common one I come across.

“He must train for three hours every day.”

This is not true and a popular misconception. Muscle growth is a commitment, but way too often people focus on the isolated training element, and how many different exercises people can fit in for each muscle group, when it just isn’t necessary. Too many exercises can become destructive for someone looking to develop growth.

Two to four high intensity exercises for each muscle group is more than enough to breakdown muscle. Most experts suggest weight training done with brief interval times at a high intensity offers a greater benefit and allows you to keep as time efficient as possible.

5.Don’t be afraid to change it up                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        Change creates shock, and shock facilitates growth. Getting to know your own physiology and the way it responds to different types of training is the unspoken beauty of training. In this case for several reasons, there are times when you don’t want your body to know what’s happening to it whilst you break down muscle.

Variety in training is one of the most underrated tools you can use to shock and confuse your muscles whilst breaking them down. Changing the type of exercise is crucial in facilitating constant growth. Like anything, if you are breaking down the same muscles the same way, they’ll eventually adapt to expect it and you will train yourself into a training plateau. Could this be the reason you’re not growing?

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