Everyone goes to the gym with the intention of getting somewhere in their fitness routine. Whether it be fat loss or muscle gain, there are obvious ways to help or hinder the process. Unfortunately, muscle growth is surprisingly easy to undercut. However, the good news is that you may remedy them with relatively easy lifestyle changes.
Not Enough Rest
Sleep is absolutely critical to the process of muscle growth. When we sleep well, it gives the body an opportunity to recover from the stresses of the day, exercise stress included. It's during our deepest levels of sleep that muscle recovery takes place. And if we miss this opportunity to recover, our muscle growth is stunted. To remedy this, aim for 7 to 9 hours of uninterrupted sleep every night. This will give your body the proper rest that it needs.
When we overdo it in our exercise routines, we don't give the body enough time away from stimulus to allow for muscle growth. Keep in mind that we don't build muscle only by lifting weights; we build muscle when we recover from lifting weights. When we exercise, we put small tears in the muscle, which are referred to as microtrauma. When the body repairs this microtrauma, it grows back bigger and stronger. Give the muscle at least 24 to 48 hours of rest in between sessions.
Poor Food Choices
With the goal of losing body fat and increasing overall health, be careful to not cut calories too drastically or the body won't rebuild. Calories are essential for muscle building but shortchanging them of energy will stunt their growth. Eat nutrient-dense foods, such as, fruits, vegetables, lean meat, and whole grains. The vitamins and minerals found in the foods will help the body recover, which will allow muscle growth to occur.
The Wrong Exercises
It is nearly impossible to create optimum muscle growth if you are consistently sore or injured. Choose exercises that are safe for you to perform, and then gradually increase the weight and/or repetitions. If an exercise hurts, you should stop, learn the form properly, and then try the exercise again. An injured muscle doesn't develop. Choose exercises that provide the "most bang for your buck." Exercises that utilize multiple joints while working together, such as, squats, lunges, and rows, are among the best. These exercises provide the most stimulus and will promote muscle development.
Carl Galloway is a strength-and-conditioning coach at a high school in Southern California. He is certified as an Olympic lifting coach through USA Weightlifting and as a Certified Strength and Conditioning Specialist (CSCS) through the National Strength and Conditioning Association (NSCA). Galloway holds a bachelor's degree in kinesiology and a master's degree in coaching and athletic administration.