Whether you’re a man or woman who works out, you’re probably looking to gain muscle to some degree. We all have our goals and areas to focus on, but there are some essential things to consider if you want to maximize your gym efforts.
1 – Prioritize your goals
If you want to build overall size (or just muscle in specific areas) then you’ll need to spend the right amount of time in the gym to lift. Spend the time to prepare your meals and plan when you’ll be eating them. Commit to getting enough sleep and rest so you’re recovered before the next workout. Thinking about it won’t make it happen; you need to put in the work – both mental and physical.
2 – Train Hard
Have a plan when you walk into the gym and expect to work. Not every set has to go to failure but you should be struggling for the latter portion of the reps once you’re doing the working sets. If you can get those perfect 12 reps in, then you’re not pushing hard enough. Either add more weight or add a few more reps to further fatigue the muscles.
3 – Do compound lifts
Sometimes it’s the simple movements that make the best gains. Deadlifts, pull-ups, bench, military press, squats are staples to a solid foundation. The more muscles your recruit, the stronger you’ll get and more muscle you can build.
4 – Use proper form, for the most part
Know how to do the exercises correctly to build the right muscles. Often times you’ll see guys with huge biceps but no lats; or women with big hams but no glutes (which is what they want to build), get the mind muscle connection right to develop an overall well developed physique. Of course there will be times you need to use momentum to get a few more reps in (ie. forced reps, negatives, etc), but that should be less than 15% of your total workload.
5 – Be consistent
Plan your week both gym-wise and food-wise. Training hard for two weeks and then taking a mini hiatus for a month isn’t going to get you any closer to your goals. A good 8-10 weeks of hard training and good nutrition can earn a few days of rest, if you feel you need it. After all, it’s when we rest that our muscles repair and grow.
6 – Track your progress
You don’t know if you’re going in the right direction if you aren’t tracking your progress. Keep a journal and record the weights used to establish your rate of progression. It doesn’t have to be for all exercises but for the main lifts is a good place to start.
7 – Have a personal trainer or good training partner to push you
You can’t always rely on yourself to push yourself to the point of failure and not hurt yourself. There’s always a chance of minor (or major) injury if you’re always training to failure or not taking a long enough break in between sets. IF you don’t have a coach or partner, then consider using machines when going for broke.
8 – Do things you don’t like to do
WE tend to pick exercises we like to do because they’re either easier or more enjoyable. It’s the exercises we hate that we should be doing more of; because they’re usually the ones that target our weaker muscles.
9 – Shock your system
Don’t just do straight sets; keep it interesting. Drop sets, Rest -Pause, Super sets, Giant sets, isometric holds, etc The body adapts easily and if you want to maximize your gains, then shock your body into growth.
10 – Spend enough time in bed
You need to match rest and recovery methods with your gym time. Whether you take an afternoon nap or go to bed earlier, rest is key to recovery. If you don’t stretch then try foam rolling or using a percussion tool. These methods will help loosen the knots and adhesions you’re sure to get from all the weight you’re lifting.
11 – Eat more protein
It’s pretty hard to overeat on protein. Use that as your base and then add calories from carbs, followed by fat. But don’t eat to gluttonize; track your weight and measurement gain. If your waist size keeps increasing every week then you’re eating too much. Slow and steady is the best way to minimize fat gain whilst gaining good quality muscle.
12 – Have deload weeks, when needed
If you start to lose strength (because you’re tracking the numbers so you’ll know), feel run down, or lack motivation then take a few days off. Try to avoid any fitness related stuff (ie social media, fitness documentaries and/or podcasts, etc) just to clear your mind from it. Your mind and body will be better for it when you hit the iron again.
Hope these tips help – sometimes we’re so eager to get to the finish line, we don’t consider all of the minute details that are attached to reaching it.
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