Gaining muscle for some is easy. For others, not so much. Do you feel that no matter how many hours you put into the gym, the gains never come? You’ve come to the right place my friend!
Apart from being just blatantly stupid, there are some misnomers when it comes to lifting wights. Look, lifting weights isn’t exactly rocket science. You just lift the weight up and put it down. There are numerous reasons you’re not gaining muscle but only two concepts that you may not be following. Not training hard enough and not going heavy enough. If you can swallow your pride, then read on on some of the grave mistakes you might be making that are causing you to be a permanent resident of no gains city:
- Not squatting correctly- My squats hurt my knees! Haha
- Using the smith machine unnecessarily
- Going for fluff and pump workouts
- Front delt raises are a waste of time
- Neglecting your hamstrings
- Arms workout- Do you even lift bro?
- Focusing on forearms- Are you kidding me?
- Using light weights- It’s the mind muscle connection bro! NOT
- Calf workouts for high reps- Go home dude
- No intensity- But I workout for 2 hours!
I see this all the time in the gym. The so-called bro scientists are squatting with pathetic weights and moreover they are using high reps. To put the cherry on the cake, these so called lifters are not squatting deep. Partial squats, half squats, squats that look like good mornings and deadlifts. You name it, I’ve seen it all. The common factor to all of them? No quad development and poor knees.
It’s been proven multiple times over that squatting deep is more beneficial to your knees rather than partial squatting. Why? Because apart from it being the biggest muscle building misfire, partial squats don’t advocate the usage of hamstrings, thus putting unnecessary stress on the joints. When your joints take a hit, the exercise gets a bad name. The only people who should not be squatting are the people with a slipped disk in their lower back or people with similar acute lower back disorders. For everyone else, lower the weight initially and squat deep.
Oh and this doesn’t mean you squat 40kg for 20 reps. Go heavy, become a beast and watch as your entire body transforms because the squat is a full body developer. No light weights here!
Here’s another fact. The smith machine is possibly the most useless piece of equipment in the gym. Other than calf raises and the occasional old school leg press, the smith machine should not be used, let alone overused. If I had a rupee for every lifter using the smith machine for shoulder press, I’d be a millionaire by now! The shoulders and especially the front deltoids are designed to not go up vertically. Once you remove the natural movement, and restrict the deltoids to only moving vertically, you are inviting a world of pain to yourself and no I don’t mean the good kind. This is a sure shot way to increase your chances of any common workout injury.
Continuing with our hate against the smith machine, the equipment by nature makes everything easy for you. In the wise words of Kai Greene, this is bodybuilding. You want to make the exercise harder. Another issue with this is that your poundages will be off. A 100kg squat on the barbell squat, god forbid you squat on the smith machine, will not even be half of a smith machine squat. So please! Get off the smith machine and start making actual gains.
Hate to break it to you, Arnold got it wrong. The pump is no indicating of gaining muscle but only focusing on attaining a pump is definitely one of the reasons you’re not building muscle. Steroid usage is the reason enhanced junkies speak so highly of the pump because then, the pump indicates you’ll build muscle. Hell you’ll even build muscle doing lateral raises from 5kg dumbbells. High repetitions only build muscular endurance and hence are not a contributor to muscular development. The pump will force more blood into the muscle cells, thus enlarging them and giving that swollen feeling. Besides feeling bigger than you already are, it doesn’t really do much else. So the next time you are asking yourself why am I not bulking up? Look at the reps for each exercise.
Who even does this? Here’s something groundbreaking. The front deltoids get enough development while you bench press. That’s right. The most favorite exercise for all lifters builds the front deltoids so please just stop wasting your precious gym time (more on this later) and start focusing on the other sides of the deltoids. Exercises like lat pulldowns, deadlifts, and bench press are developing your front deltoids so focus on exercises like face pulls, rear deltoid fly’s and side lateral raises to not only give your deltoids complete development but also save from a world of joint pain trouble later on!
Most gym bros version of a hamstring version includes 4 sets of leg curls. That’s honestly not enough. Take it from a person who has a dedicated day for hamstrings and lats, and also basically every pro bodybuilding judge; you can never have too much hamstring muscle. Also the staple exercises for developing this muscle group should range from stiff leg deadlifts, leg press with the foot placed so that your hamstrings get the most amount of exposure, goblet squats and jefferson squats. Use a normal 8-10 rep range and go heavy with the exception of leg curls. Because thats a single-joint exercise, you don’t want to bust your knees by going heavy here.
Oh don’t even get me started here. Two facts. Firstly everyone wants bigger arms. Secondly, theres no harm in curls or presses as long as they are done correctly. Three sets of 15 reps do little to make your bicep grow. If you want your guns to grow, not only do you need to do some unusual exercises but you also need to do these exercises with a challenging weight. Progressive overload is king when it comes to muscular development and the most important surprising reasons for not gaining muscle. Incorporate at least close grip bench press, skull crushers and a pushdown movement for your triceps. The tricep comprises of 2/3rd of your arm so targeting that area the hardest to develop some massive arms makes sense.
This is for all those people I see doing a 100 sets of wrist curls but can’t deadlift their bodyweight or do any amount of rows. Forearm exercises are really just not necessary if you are doing heavy barbell bent over rows, deadlifts and heavy rows. These rowing movements then will not only ensure you have a tremendous grip but also incredible lats. Interestingly enough your grip strength and therefore your forearm strength is linked to your back strength. The back, if not strong enough, will send the signal to drop the weight, if it senses it will get damaged. The cure? Indulging in heavy back workouts of course!
The mind muscle connection works. Everyone knows this. This however isn’t an excuse to feel your lateral side deltoid by using 1.5kg. The mind muscle connection will also truly work when you use an engaging weight. In terms of maxes, if you can lift 40kg for 1rep, that becomes your 1RM (1 rep max). Technically to use mind muscle connection effectively go upwards of 50% of your 1RM at the very least. When Ronnie Coleman says “light weight baby” he means the heavy weights feel light, not the fact that he is using light weights!
Seriously which idiot even does this? The calf as a muscle group is built for endurance. Not only does that mean that it won’t respond well to high rep training, setting genetic anomalies aside, but it also means that the calf muscle best responds to heavy training. Just make sure you use proper form rather than jerking around on the calf raise.
Last but definitely not the least, dear to my heart is your lack of intensity is possibly the number one gains killer that there is. It is the reason that you are doing EVERYTHING right and still NOT gaining muscle. The best argument to this is that people tell me they workout for 2 hours or even more! If you are working out with the ideal training mindset and making every set count, trust me you’ll be exhausted in an hour max and quite honestly you don’t even need an hour. Sleeping in the gym won’t ensure your gains. People talking, chatting on their phones, taking 5 selfies for every 1 set done are the people who lack the intensity. Do yourself a favor. Switch off the phone and train yourself to only think about lifting that damn weight. Don’t waste time and your gains.