Growing up your parents probably taught you that patience was a virtue. But when it comes to gains we all want a little instant gratification. Nobody wants to feel like they’re wasting their time or risk becoming discouraged because their one-pack hasn’t at least split into two by now.
Sometimes even though you’ve invested your time and money into crafting a good meal plan, buying healthy foods, and turning your life around nothing is working. We understand the frustration. Nobody wants to feel like the only exercise they’re doing is an exercise in futility.
If you’re one of these people then this article is for you. We’re going to drop some knowledge that will help out your progress on the fast-track instead of the sidelines.
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Tip #1 – Show up
It may sound obvious, but we all know that when the time comes to hit the gym a lot of us would rather stay firmly planted on the couch. When you’re marathoning a series on Netflix it’s tough to pull yourself away. This can be especially true if your gym is far away or you’ve had a though and exhausting day at work.
Here’s the thing, being a couch potato doesn’t pack on the muscle. If it did we would all be Schwarzenegger. If you’ve committed to a regiment that requires 4 days of exercise per week, show up 4 days a week. You won’t be making gains if you take days off with regularity and you certainly won’t be maximizing your potential progress. There isn’t really any such thing as “making it up” the next time you’re in the gym.
One way to overcome missing sessions is to re-visit what inspired you to begin this journey in the first place. Maybe you’ve lost track of why you want to change your body and become a healthier you. If you can re-ignite that flame the motivation should return.
Another alternative is that maybe you just need to adjust your schedule and train with higher intensity but less frequently. It’s possible that you were overly-ambitious to start with and just need to gradually work yourself up to a schedule with greater workout frequency.
Tip #2 – Commit
Too many treat exercise like a college class. They expect to show up for a semester, get what they need out of it, and be on their merry way never to use most of this knowledge again. Unfortunately lifting doesn’t work like that. You can’t just show up for a couple of months, develop ripped abs and biceps that look like they were carved out of stone, and then never look at the inside of a gym again.
Lifting is a lifestyle, and it’s going to be incredibly difficult so see results if you don’t treat it as such. Even if you did develop a great physique in a short amount of time, those muscles need maintenance. That means discipline in the gym and the kitchen.
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Tip #3 – Trust Your Gut
When it comes to putting on mass, the simple truth of the matter is that it’s going to be tough to replicate the results you had in year one by year three. Lifters experience diminishing returns over time. It’s unavoidable.
What this means for you is that as your returns diminish, so does your need to bulk as drastically as you did the year before. Otherwise, you may end up undoing the progress you’ve made.
In order to determine what sort of intake you’ll need for bulking purposes, the first thing you need to do is determine how many daily calories you need to maintain your current weight level. There are many resources online which should be able to help you determine this number. It’s a pretty straightforward calculation.
Once you have your caloric intake necessary for maintenance, add 500 to it. This should be your daily intake for the first year of training and should roughly translate to 1.5-2 pounds of weight gain per month. When year two comes around, drop your caloric intake to about 300-350 above maintenance level. This should result in just 1 pound of weight gain per month. From year two onwards, you’re going to want to cut your intake again to approximately 200-250 calories above maintenance level.
Remember that the guidelines above are just general guidance. At the end of the day make sure to trust your own intuition and experience. After all, if your gains you’re trying to preserve.
Tip #4 – Not All Exercises Are Created Equal, Embrace It
Exercises can generally be classified as one of two types, compound or isolation. Compound exercises involve working more than one muscle while isolation exercises (as the name implies) are the opposite. There are guys out there who go to the gym religiously, but avoid compound exercises like the plague. And it shows when you look at them.
That’s not to say that isolation exercises shouldn’t have a place in your routine. But there’s a reason why compound movements like deadlifts, bench press, squats, military press, and pull ups are so well known even outside of lifting circles. These exercises are more difficult, but if you embrace them you’ll be better for it.
Another thing to consider is making sure you maximize every set. It’s not enough to take on these more challenging movements if you’re only going to half-ass them. Here’s what you do: on the last set of a particular exercise push yourself to your limit. Pump out as many reps as you possibly can and then stop right before you think you’ll fail the next one.
Put these four tips into practice and you’ll start noticing results in no time.