5 reasons you’re not making gains at the gym, and how to fix them
Everyone wants to make muscle gains. However, beyond newbie gains, you need to rethink your strategy in order to maximize gains. Here are the most common mistakes you’re probably making and how to fix them:
1.You don’t prioritize the right exercises at the beginning of your workout when you have the most energy. You walk into a gym and start your workout by doing every biceps curl variation you know, before you even think about pulling exercises for your back muscles. Then, you wonder why your back muscles are lagging behind.. How to fix it: Prioritize compound movements at the beginning of your workout. Compound movements like chin-ups, presses, rows, squats, and deadlifts- are your “bread and butter” exercises- that bring you the most bang for your buck. These exercises engage several muscles at a time, thus increasing the metabolic demand of your workout, and promoting more overall growth. When it comes to deciding what compound exercise to perform first thing in the workout, the answer is easy. You prioritize the exercise you want to get strongest in. So, for instance, if you have both a barbell bench press and a barbell shoulder press on the training menu, and you’re trying to develop your delts, you would start the workout with shoulder presses. 2.You are not using wrist straps.
Most people will be limited by their grip strength when doing any type of pulling exercises. This means that the targeted muscles do not reach (close to) fatigue, it’s the forearms muscles that do. As a result, you’re leaving a lot muscle development on the table.
How to fix it:
If you are limited by your grip, please use wrist straps. You’re not a sissy because you use wrist straps- you’re training intelligently. When using wrist straps, you will be able to maximize the work of the muscles you’re intending to target. Nonetheless, your program should include exercises which specifically target your forearm muscles- carry variations such as farmer carries/ suitcase carries/ waiter carries are all great options. 3. You’re constantly trying to work on your core You’re performing all exercises either standing, half kneeling, or tall kneeling because you want to challenge your core muscles. Essentially, there is nothing wrong with this thought process, as the less supported your body is for any given exercise, the more core stability you’re going to work on. However, if your goal is to maximize muscle gains, you need to promote as much body and core stability as possible, in order to be able to use most of your energy for stimulating the muscles you’re trying to grow. Simply put, in this context, challenging your stability compromises your muscle growth.
How to fix it:
Try to get as much body stability as you can. This means, perform bench supported rows instead of unsupported bent over rows; seated shoulder presses instead of standing shoulder presses, and so on. 4. You’re not training the ‘core muscles’ of your shoulder and hip joints The shoulder and the hip joints are ball and socket joints. This means both joints allow for multi-directional movements. One of the movements is external rotation. More often than not, the muscles which perform shoulder and hip external rotation specifically- are the weakest link in the chain. These muscles are some of the rotator cuff muscles of the shoulder joint (infraspinatus and teres minor)
along the posterior delt, and the 6 deep hip external rotators (Piriformis, gemellus superior, obturator internus, gemellus inferior, quadratus femoris and the obturator externus) along the glutes. These muscles are extremely important for joint congruency, joint stabilization, and reducing risk of injury; and when they aren’t trained properly, strength is limited.. Simply put, you’re always limited by your weakest link. Consequently, these important muscles are also the first ones to give and get injured, when left untrained. How to fix it:
Start incorporating external rotation variations into your shoulder training: Choose one variation & perform 1-3 sets of 10-15 reps 2-3 times per week.
Standing cable external rotation
Standing band external rotation
Standing W’s with external rotation
Start incorporating external rotation/ abduction variations into your lower body training: Choose one variation & perform 1-3 sets of 10-15 reps 2-3 times per week. 3 variation to seated machine hip abduction
Banded hip abduction
Sidelying banded hip abduction ( you don’t have to use the band)
5. You’re sprinting through your workout
You’re thinking supersetting, dropsetting, and all kinds of ‘setting’ are going to maximize your muscle gains. News flash: they won’t. These are advanced techniques you can use when you’ve been lifting for a while and have already put a measurable amount of muscle mass on your frame, or when you’re short on time at the gym.
If you find yourself supersetting dumbbell chest press and bent over rows, then super setting squats and deadlifts, and so on, you’re not allowing your body time to recover between sets, and your breath to return to baseline. Basically, you’re in a state of sprinting through your workout, and leaving a lot of gains on the table. This workout style might make you feel fatigued and exhausted, but remember, fatigue and exhaustion aren’t indicators of progress.
How to fix it: As a general rule, rest between sets the amount of time it takes you to be close to baseline breathing.
For most people, 1-2 minutes is sufficient.
Your goal is to progressively overload your muscles, mostly in the form of lifting the same amount of weight for same amount of reps or more. And slowly increase weight over time.