Gaining muscle isn’t easy, regardless of your body type and genetic predisposition. That being said, everyone has the potential to make gains. If you’re putting in the time and training hard but don’t feel you’re getting anywhere, this article is for you. The following is a list of the most common hypertrophy pitfalls, so you can see where you’re going wrong and make the change.
1. Not using training parameters that support growth
If you want to build muscle, it’s not just about lifting weights. It’s about how you are lifting weights. To build muscle you need to be using training parameters that are proven to promote hypertrophy.
Training Parameters for hypertrophy:
Repetition Range – 8 to 12
Sets – 3 to 10 per exercise (depending how many exercises per workout)
Tempo – Favor a faster lift (explosive or lasting one second) and slower negatives (3-5 seconds for most exercises)
Time Under Tension – 40-70 seconds (this is how long each set should last to optimally stimulate growth)
Rest – 90-120 sec between sets
Load – the resistance should be based on the rep range. So if your rep range for an exercise is 8-10 and you don’t make it to 8 reps, then the weight is too heavy. Likewise if you get to 10 reps and could keep going, then the weight is too light. It is also important to progressively overload the muscle by increasing the resistance over time. Another important point about load is that lifting heavy for 1-5 reps will do wonders for your strength, but will catalyze minimal muscle growth.
2. Changing Programs too late or too soon
Let me start by saying that there is no such thing as the perfect workout program. I say this because even the best workout program in the world is only useful for 4-6 weeks. The reason for this is simple: adaptation. After 4-6 weeks of a given program your body has adapted to that stimulus and now needs a new stimulus for it to continue to evolve. The key is to alter the rep ranges, exercise variations, tempos, rest periods, etc every few weeks in order to continue to stimulate the body optimally.
The flipside of this is the guy who changes workout regiments every week. By doing so he’s never giving his body a chance to reap any benefits from a given program before moving onto the next. The key is sticking with a program long enough to adapt to it, and then moving on.