Building muscle is a marathon, not a sprint.
No one lifts heavy weights once and wakes up with huge arms the day after. It takes time, dedication, and hard work.
Even then, many of us find that results stall after initial successes. Here are some dos and don’ts to help you to build and maintain muscle mass.
1. Don’t Change Things Up Too Often
You might have heard that your muscles will get used to the same workouts, and you’ll stop seeing results. To an extent, this is true. Your body adapts and adjusts, and you do need to keep challenging it to maximize gains.
But, changing things up too often means that your muscles never get a chance to build. Stick to the same routines for 4-6 weeks. Increase weights and reps to push yourself instead of making significant changes.
2. Do Get Plenty of Sleep
Sleeping gives your muscles the chance to repair and build upon all of those micro-tears you’ve created during a heavyweight session. Without a good night’s sleep, your muscles don’t get the chance to recover fully, which means that they aren’t ready to perform to their best, and you won’t see the same high results.
Sleeping more also means that you have higher energy levels and reduced stress, which can help you push yourself harder with both weights and cardio. Getting better sleep for bodybuilding is crucial.
3. Don’t Push Too Hard
Building muscle is a process. It doesn’t happen overnight, and to see the most significant gains, you need to commit. One heavy workout won’t make any difference.
Instead of pushing yourself, risking injury and muscle fatigue, take it slowly, get to know your limits, and commit to sustained training.
4. Do Take Rest Days
Like sleep, rest days are essential to building strength and fitness. If you never take days off, you just keep breaking your muscles down, never letting them recover.
If you don’t feel like a complete day off, practice yoga to stretch achy muscles out, or go for a long walk or gentle swim to boost your cardiovascular health. Just remember to take it easy and listen to your body.
5. Don’t Skip Cardio
When we’re looking to build lean muscle, we often wholly neglect cardio. We see cardio as a way to lose weight, which might be the opposite of what you are looking to do if you want to bulk up. But, while cardio does burn calories, it still increases muscle. Cardio also boosts your stamina, focus, and cardiovascular health, all of which will help you to take your strength training to the next level.
6. Do Make a Plan
You’re never going to make the most of your time if you head into the gym without a plan. You’ll waste time and struggle to stay focused. Instead, make schedules.
Have a long-term plan with goals and weekly plans, so you know exactly what you are doing every time you hit the gym.
7. Don’t Rush Your Reps
It can be tempting to rush through your reps to get them out of the way and give yourself more time to hit different muscles. But this can be a mistake. Taking each contraction slowly and holding it will help you to create metabolic muscle stress. Keeping your muscles exposed to this tension will increase metabolites triggering hypertrophic growth.
It’s important to remember that muscle growth is different for everyone. Your age, gender, genetics, and metabolism will affect your muscle mass, and you can’t always do much about it. Workout, enjoy yourself and push your body, but try not to worry about the results too much.