Correct these mistakes that are costing you your muscles
You avoid fat
You won’t add lean muscle with a low fat diet. A study in the Journal of Medicine, Science and Sports Exercise found that men who ate a normal diet with a moderate amount of fat gained 5lbs more muscle and 86% more strength than those on a low fat diet. Get yours from liberal quantities of vegetable oils, nut and seeds.
You think cardio stops muscle gain
Cardio is not kryptonite to your muscle. It helps you recover faster from weight training. “Your respiratory system improves which helps you get more nutrients to your muscles so they can repair faster,” says Ross Sherman the senior sports science lecturer at Kingston University London. Add two to three 20 minute cardio sessions to your routine each week to run up your muscle gains.
A dry mouth can shrivel your muscles. Research at the American College of Sport Medicine found that when you become dehydrated the strength in your smaller muscle groups – such as shoulders and arms – declines. Ensure you’re drinking enough with this formula: take your body in kilograms and divide it by 30 to get the amount in litres you should drink each day.
You skimp on salt
If you’re training at a high intensity – and you should be to add muscle – you will lose sodium through your sweat and need to top up with salt to replace it. “It helps you store carbohydrates for energy and absorb amino acids for muscle building,” says Sherman. Don’t exceed the RDA of 4g, which is about a level teaspoon’s worth, or you put your ticker at risk.
You’re too committed to training
After 4-6 weeks of doing one routine you need to take a complete layoff for a few days or greatly reduce your intensity. “You need to give your body a rest so your muscles can repair and trigger a growth spurt,” says Sherman. If you start getting paranoid about wasting away, do some stretching. Ten minutes twice a week will not only drop your risk of injury but also help add more muscle.
Not only will being dozy make you feel sluggish in the gym but it will also make you weaker. Research at John Moores University, Liverpool found that men who had a late night, bench-pressed and deadlifted less than they could when they were well rested. Less weight shifted means less muscle. A stiff price for skipping your 7 hours of kip.
Don’t wolf down carbs like a marathon runner if you want to look like a sprinter. A study in the journal Amino Acids found that men who took 20g of protein before and after a workout had more muscle, strength and less fat than men who took only carbs. For the best results use a protein shake with 50:50 ratio of carbs to protein to get the energy to finish your workout.
You only train your trophy muscles
Yes, t-shirt muscles are all you’ll need in a nightclub but overworking these muscles will cause injuries and stop your training. “Sixty percent of your body’s muscle is in your legs and back,” says Sherman. “You’ll boost your overall testosterone levels by targeting these muscles which will add more mass to your favourite body parts.”
You train till you drop
Yes, you should train till you can’t manage another rep but not on every set. Doing more than 20 total sets per muscle group, or more than 15 reps per set, may leave your muscles swollen, but it will be from inflammation, not actual muscle growth. Any weight that allows that much work is too light to cause substantial growth, and you’ll reap no lasting gains.