1 – Too Much Cardio
Aside from helping you lose fat, cardio is actually great for your health. It helps improve the flow of nutrients to your muscles and keeps your heart in good shape. Having said that, if you do too much cardio you can actually make it harder for yourself to make gains. Ever notice how long-distance runners are typically extremely skinny with little to no muscle? That’s because endurance cardio training tends to cause cortisol levels to spike which in turn lowers testosterone resulting in less muscle mass.
You also have to keep in mind that in order to build muscle you need to be consuming a calorie surplus. That means every calorie you burn through cardio needs to be compensated with an extra calorie consumed. Instead of doing tons of endurance cardio stick to 2 sessions per week of 25 minutes or less. This will give you the conditioning you need without compromising your bulking goals.
2 – You Goals are Unrealistic
If you want to put on muscle and no fat you really need to go slowly. If you are putting on 1-2 pounds per week it’s likely that a good portion of that is fat. If you really want to bulk while minimizing fat gain you should be aiming for the 0.5-1 pound per week range for beginners. Even less for more experienced lifters. If you try to bulk too quickly your body will take the calories it needs to build muscle and then store the rest of them as fat.
It’s important to weigh yourself each week and to take progress pictures. They will help you determine if you are on the right track. If, for example, you see your weight go up by 2 pounds for 2 consecutive weeks you are likely bulking too quickly and putting on fat. It might be frustrating to put on only 1-2 pounds of muscle per month, but after 1 year you will have put on 12-24 pounds of muscle – that’s enough to make your body look significantly better.
3 – You Don’t Eat Enough Fat and Carbs
Most guys will load up on protein thinking it will speed up their gains. While protein is definitely necessary for building muscle, so is dietary fat and carbs. Dietary fat contains key nutrients that help boost testosterone levels and increase muscle mass. Carbs are used by your body as fuel for those difficult workouts and as building blocks for muscle.
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A lot of guys are hesitant to consume too much dietary fat and carbohydrates because they believe it will lead to fat gain. This is not the case. Simply stick to your daily calorie surplus target and you will continue to make the type of gains you are looking for. Ensure that you are getting plenty of dietary fat and complex carbs as well. In terms of the ideal split it varies from person to person. Some people do well on a 40/40/20 (protein, carbs, fat) split, while others prefer to lower the amount of protein and increase either carbs or fat. Play around with the numbers and see what works best for you.
4 – You Aren’t Getting Enough Rest
If you go to the gym 7 days per week to train you will actually hurt your results. Bodybuilding actually puts a lot of stress on your muscles so they need time to recover. Training chest 4x per week won’t make it grow faster – you are far better off training 2x per week and giving it the time it needs to repair and grow. Also, if you don’t get 8 hours of sleep per night your gains will suffer. Your body actually does a lot of repair work and produces the most testosterone while sleeping. That means if you cut your sleep short you will produce way less of this crucial hormone.
When it comes to making consistent gains, getting enough rest has to be a priority. Make sure you get 8 hours of sleep each night. On top of that, if you feel tired throughout the day feel free to take a nap. It might seem childish to take a nap but we all get tired at random points of the day – add in heavy lifting and you can expect that to continue!
5 – You Change Programs too Much
While mixing things up every once in awhile is a good way to shock your muscles and keep them growing, if you do it too often your results will suffer. It takes time for a program to be effective and if you keep changing from one to another you will never see that benefit. One of the best ways to prevent this from happening is to pick a program (or design one) and stick to it. If after 3 months you aren’t seeing any progress then consider switching to something else. The fact that you are committing 3 months to a program will make you think more carefully about which program to select.
6 – Your Testosterone Levels are Too Low
We mentioned testosterone levels a few times in this article so we might as well give them their own section. Did you know that testosterone levels are a key component of muscle growth? In fact, testosterone levels play a significant role in determining muscle mass, body fat, energy levels and recovery ability. Simply put, the more testosterone you have, the faster your will progress.
Now that you know the benefits of testosterone you will want to make sure you are doing everything you can to boost your levels. First of all, as mentioned earlier, get at least 8 hours of sleep per night. Second, eat a clean diet. Third, lift heavy focusing on compound exercises. Finally, take a testosterone booster. More importantly, make sure you take a high quality testosterone boosting supplement – one that uses natural ingredients. Click here to check out our dedicated testosterone booster page. On this page we breakdown all the ingredients you should be looking for, as well as our top product picks.