Have you painstakingly created the perfect workout schedule for yourself? Do you head to the gym faithfully and perform all the reps without cheating? Now, despite all of this do you find yourself unable to gain muscle mass as quickly or as well as you like?
After months of continuing this way, it is natural to want to give up. This is especially if you have to see other people get gains without as much effort. Now, what you may not have stopped to think about, however, is how your lifestyle may be affecting all your efforts at the gym. After all, you do spend most of your time with a completely different mindset than inside the gym. So, although you may not realize it, you could be compromising yourself in your daily life. With this in mind, let’s take a look at some of the things that could be messing with you gaining muscle. This will give you the chance to make the necessary changes immediately and finally get those results that you were hoping for.
What are Your Extracurricular Activities Like?
If you are someone who loves staying active, there is a good chance that you play sports during your free time. Maybe it’s a quick pick up game of basketball or maybe you’re a permanent fixture on a football field. While this may seem like you are actually boosting your body’s ability to build muscle, the opposite is actually what’s true. This is because when you break it down, most sports are largely cardiovascular activities.
Now, even if you’re sticking to a proper protein regimen, you are probably only taking your gym workouts into consideration. Therefore, you’re burning extra calories out on the court or field which means that your body taps into your muscles for additional supplies of energy. There is also the fact that in order for your muscles to grow, they must first be able to rest. So, if you are lifting, working out, and playing sports, your muscles are simply not given the chance to do so.
The good news is that you don’t actually have to give up on your beloved game just so that you can gain muscle. After all, despite what you may have heard, cardio is actually a valuable part of gains. What you need to do instead is to cut down on your playing time. The most common piece of advice that you will hear is to limit your cardiovascular workout to about twenty minutes a day, three times a week. If you are going to pick more playing time instead, reduce the number of times a week that you engage in this activity. After a few weeks, you will begin to notice that your muscles are responding to the work that you are doing in the gym.
Are You Eating the Right Foods at the Right Times?
You really don’t need to be told that you should be consuming adequate amounts of protein in your diet. In fact, you have most likely perfectly calculated the number of grams of protein that you need to eat on a daily basis to maximize muscle mass while ensuring fat loss. So, regardless of this, why are your muscles just not growing? Well, one of the mistakes that you could be making is how much protein you eat at each meal.
As you are almost certainly aware, eating a smaller number of meals throughout the day is often more effective than eating three large meals. Despite breaking down your meals, though, it is quite possible that your protein consumption drastically changes from meal to meal. What you need to do is to even out your total protein consumption across the four to six meals that you might be eating. Let’s say, for example, that you need to be consuming 200 grams of protein each day. This means that if you are eating four meals, for instance, you should be eating 50 grams of protein at each meal. Of course, it would be ideal if you get tostretch this to six meals but basically, balancing out your protein intake is key.
The next thing to think about is when you are eating your protein. To figure out the right time to eat, you must first factor inhow many times a week you work out. Since you are probably working out around three to four times a week, you need to be aware of the fact that the time after you exercise is vital in relation to protein consumption.
See, this is the time when your body goes about synthesizing and utilizing proteins so that they can be converted into muscle mass. Your window is for up to forty-eight hours after you work out. During this period, you will need to ensure that of your total energy intake, between 12 to 15 percent is dedicated to protein consumption. Of course, the type of protein that you consume is also important. For muscle protein synthesis, all you really require are essential amino acids. So, focus on getting enough of these as the non-essential amino acids aren’t that helpful in this respect.
Protein isn’t the only food group that plays an important role in muscle development, though, carbohydrates do too. As you can imagine, the significance of carbohydrates is to provide your body with energy. At the same time, it also leads to elevated levels of insulin. In most instances, this wouldn’t be ideal. However, when combined with the right amount of amino acids, insulin can generate bigger muscles. So, make sure that your post-workout meal is loaded up with non-processed, non-starchy healthy carbohydrates.
To summarize, make sure that you balance out your protein across your meals, consume protein at the right moments, and ensure that it is accompanied by carbohydrates at the correct times as well.
Are You Drinking Enough Water?
When you are working out, you are undoubtedly reaching for your water bottle every few minutes. To top that off, you may even be going through several liters of water a day. So, clearly you are drinking enough water, right? Which obviously means that your muscles are getting all that they need.
Even though our bodiesare made up largely of water, we don’t seem to realize just how many roles H2O plays in our physiology. This means that you drink just enough water to ward off dehydration while you are working out or going about your daily activities. What you may not be thinking about, however, is your protein consumption. Since your main goal is to gain muscle mass, you are clearly on somewhat of a high-protein diet. This will result in your body using up much more water.
Why? Well, one of the effects of eating more protein is that your body begins to use fat as a major fuel source. At the same time, there are lots of waste products created by the increased protein that you are consuming. Therefore, it is up to your kidneys to get rid of these waste materials, a process which automatically involves water. As such, your body loses more water.
If you are wondering how this affects your muscles, then it is simple – water helps to carry nutrients to make your muscles stronger and larger. The less water that your body has to work with, the fewerthe nutrients delivered. Of course, in the case of dehydration (or near dehydration), the effects on your body and kidneys are more important.
What’s really daunting about all of this, though, is that there is a good chance that you don’t even know that your body is approaching dehydration! It has been found that many people don’t feel thirsty when losing water due to high protein diets, which means that they won’t naturally increase their water intake.
To keep things simple, remember to considerably increase your water intake if you are on a high or higher protein diet.
Do You Lead a Stressful Lifestyle?
Speaking from an evolutionary perspective, the human body has always been focused on survival. This is why we are equipped with a biological system that reacts a certain way when we are faced with danger or threats. Unfortunately, the body hasn’t really evolved enough to distinguish between these types of threats. So, anything from working out too much to a high-stress lifestyle elicits a similar reaction.
In terms of muscle building, the main element to focus on here is cortisol – which is often referred to as the stress hormone. When cortisol floods your system, your body works to break down proteins into amino acids so that they can be moved out of muscles and tissues and into your blood and liver. Now, this is good news if you are trying to run from a predator or a mugger. However, this doesn’t work in your favor if you are trying to build up your muscles.
See, the fewer amino acids there are in your muscles, the fewer the proteins available for muscle growth. Now, when you are working out, you can combat this with certain things such as keeping your workout less than sixty minutes long. This can prevent the cortisol from kicking in.
However, what about the stress in your life that could be causing your cortisol levels to rise without you noticing? Also, considering that the stressors are also present for longer periods of time, there is a good chance that your cortisol levels are also elevated for longer. To overcome this, you need to be able to find ways to avoid getting stressed in the first place. The technique is often specific to you and depends on what relaxes you most. Nonetheless, yoga, relaxation techniques, and meditation are all options that you may want to consider.
Are You Getting Enough Sleep?
Poor sleeping habits could be another missing key to why you are not gaining muscle. Although you may be at rest once you doze off, there are a lot of internal operations taking place. One of these is the release of a growth hormone which helps to boost muscle mass. On top of this, your muscles are also allowed to repair, regenerate, and rebuild, all leading to an increase in muscle size.
Now, to be able to experience all these wonderful effects, you will need to be getting seven to eight hours of sleep. If this is interrupted in any way, you are going to lose out in terms of muscle mass. One of the steps to getting adequate amounts of sleep is actually planning your day appropriately. Avoid late nights at all costs and make sure that you get the recommended snooze time each day.
Something to remember is that exercise can actually mess with your ability to fall sleep. If you work out too close to your bedtime, your body is still going to be firing on all cylinders. So, although you may feel tired, you aren’t going to be able to fall asleep. Or you will find yourself waking up a short while later. To counteract this, make sure that you train at least four to six hours before you plan to go to sleep. This gives your body enough time to wind itself down so that you are able to relax.
As you can see, what you do outside of the gym is just as important as what you do inside it. With this in mind, you can now make the proper changes to begin increasing your muscle mass today.