Once upon a time there was a term going by the name of the “beach body”. Now, we’d argue that said body is desired for the entire year. In other words, big and bulky is completely in fashion – and it doesn’t matter which month you read the magazines.
Unfortunately, the popularity of bulking hasn’t exactly helped us. It’s meant that countless fads and myths have been put out there and in short, it’s hard to see what really is the truth. It means that there are countless bad pieces of advice mulling around the industry and suffice to say, as you will have probably gathered, we are here to outline five of the worst offenders.
Therefore, if you are looking to bulk, sit back and read the following five mistakes that can stop your progress completely in its tracks.
To bulk, you’ve got to consume calories
Newsflash. If you are looking to bulk, you have got to consume calories. Unfortunately, this is one rule that many of us just don’t like to follow.
The reasoning is simple, and perhaps understandable. Eating is associated with getting fat and naturally, none of us want to fall into this category.
However, you’ve got to view bulking a little differently. It’s not a form of dieting, and if you don’t consume calories you just won’t have any energy to make the gains that you crave. In fact, if you don’t eat enough to certain levels, you will start to lose muscle mass.
The best way to approach this is just to accept the predicament. Accept that you need to consume more calories and as such, more fat. It’s the only way that a successful bulk is going to occur.
Additionally, this fat doesn’t have to be for the long-term. Sure, it might be a little unsightly (although in some cases it won’t be noticeable in the slightest), but by the time you are back to dieting you can cut it away and boast that chiseled body that the magazines love to throw in front of us.
The cardio imbalance
Like a lot of the mistakes that we’ll focus on, this is another that is completely understandable.
Let’s firstly concentrate on the “no cardio” mistake. Again, it’s something that is seemingly natural – after all, we don’t want to lose calories, why would we perform cardio which is going to achieve exactly that?
There’s a couple of reasons for the above. Firstly, by turning to a little cardio, your appetite will be ramped up. It will be easier than ever before to eat and for some of you, this will be crucial.
Then, there is your cardiovascular system. Sure, you might have the required strength to lift your desired weight, but those last two reps might just prove impossible if you become out of breath. A touch of cardio will help this no-end.
However, let’s focus on that last sentence, “a touch of cardio”. As we’ve already commented on, you should be doing everything you can to avoid overdoing it when it comes to cardio. You won’t make the desired muscular improvements if you expend too much energy – you will just lose size.
As such, a happy medium is key. Several 20-30 minute sessions per week is perfectly adequate and will keep things ticking over nicely.
Beating yourself up with a lack of rest
Again, this is one rule that we can almost be forgiven for breaking – but it’s something that will hinder your progress significantly anyway.
There’s a common statement amongst fitness gurus, “muscle growth occurs outside of the gym”. Yes, you may have put all of the grueling work on the gym floor, but the results don’t start to develop until you are away from the weights and your body is in the recovery phase.
It’s important to know when your body needs this – and not to push it too far.
As well as the obvious risk of injury, your muscle tissue just won’t have enough time to rest and recover from workouts. Some people believe that up to three days is needed after a hard workout, which perhaps emphasizes just how important this recovery period is.
Put simply, even if you were to pound away at the gym seven days a week and destroy your lifting program, you wouldn’t experience anywhere near the gains as if you were to incorporate that elusive rest into your schedule. It’s as important as your workout.
Not having an end goal
Another common mistake relates to the psychology of your bulking. A lot of guys simply hit the gym without really knowing what they are looking to achieve. Or, they’ll simply want to look “bigger” – but what exactly does that mean?
The answer to this question is going to vary on a case-by-case basis. For some of you, who are perhaps elite bulkers, it might be the case of fine-tuning muscles which bodybuilding judges deemed were not up to scratch during your last competition. For others, and probably most of you, it’s probably more of a case of setting an end weight goal.
On the subject of the weight goal, the measurement of this is crucially important. Resist the temptation to hit the scales on a daily or weekly basis.
Unfortunately, bulking can be a slow process and by doing this, you may just allow yourself to turn to more calories just to inflate that figure on the scales.
There’s every chance that these are the calories you don’t want to be chasing, so it’s better to measure less frequently and just concentrate on your workouts and proper diet.
By keeping a steady goal in mind, it not only acts as motivation but will also allow you to track your progress. The two almost go hand-in-hand, particularly when you can see just how much (or maybe how little) progress has been made over said period.
Relying too much on machines
In some ways, machines have transformed the gym floor. They have opened the facilities up to a much larger audience, for the simple reason that they are so much easier to use.
Rather than wondering how to lift free weights, the easy-to-use instructions just make machine workouts a doddle.
It’s the easy-to-use factor which is a problem though. Like anything related to bodybuilding, and particularly bulking, nothing should be easy.
Free weights such as dumbbells and barbells will cause much more stress to your muscles than the machine alternatives. There is no guide, there’s no smoothness and they just make life a little more difficult for your muscles.
Free weights will boost your muscle fiber emphatically in comparison. Of course, few people will have a workout which is solely comprised of free weights.
Many for example will progress to machines or cables once they have surpassed a certain level in their training. Additionally, machines can be a great way to supplement your weight training workout.
What we are trying to highlight is that they shouldn’t be the be-all and end-all of your bulking though as put simply, it just won’t yield sufficient results when pitted against good, old fashioned free weight exercises.
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