6 Factors That Might Be Preventing You From Building Muscle

Muscle Building

Hello everyone! The following is a guest post by Joshua Hardwick on building muscle. Enjoy!

###

We’d all like to be ripped, but very few of us actually take the steps necessary to achieving our goals. Building muscle requires a lot of dedication in terms of both your workout routine and your eating habits. Even those that really ‘go for it’ are often surprised when they see very little in the way of results and often, it can be down to just a couple of factors that they didn’t take into consideration or slightly misunderstood.

Gaining muscle is hard work, both physically and mentally and there is certainly a lot to think about. A lot of people find that initially, their results are great but after a few months, they seem to hit a brick wall and muscle mass gains come to a halt. To help you out, I’ve rounded up 6 of the most common reasons that you might experience this, and that could be preventing you form building muscle.

#1 – You Aren’t Eating Enough

To gain muscle, you need to eat a lot as you can’t gain weight from nothing. Every day, your body will burn a certain amount of calories just to maintain itself (by that, I mean to fuel its normal daily activities) and to build muscle, you need to be eating more calories than whatever this requirement might be. The problem here is that everyone’s daily calorific needs are slightly different, as daily activities vary, as does each individuals metabolic rate (the rate at which you burn calories).

Calculating the exact amount of calories you should be eating per day is no mean feat, but you can use one of the many online metabolic rate calculators to calculate how many calories your body needs each day just to function (your basal metabolic rate). Following this, you can use the Harris Benedict Equation (here is a calculator that uses this formula) to calculate how many calories you need to consume each day to maintain your current weight. Once you have this number, you need to make sure to consume slightly more calories (with a good percentage from protein) if you want to gain weight.

#2 – You Aren’t Eating Enough Protein

Protein is the building block of muscle tissue and without it, you don’t have a hope of building muscle. If you’re regularly working out and looking to gain muscle, you need to be consuming quite a hefty amount of protein. Again, it’s hard to calculate an exact protein requirement but the general rule of thumb is to consume around 1 gram per pound of body weight. For example, if you weigh 180 pounds, you need to consume around 180 grams of protein per day.

It is important to realize that this is substantially more protein than you would usually consume on a regular diet and doing so is going to take a fair amount of effort. Bearing in mind that a tin of tuna, 100 – 120 grams of chicken breast and one protein shake are all likely to contain around 25 – 30 grams of protein, you can quickly see how much you are going to need to consume.

Protein shakes are a great way to get the extra protein you need but it is important that you get the majority of your protein from high-quality, protein-rich food sources. Consuming them in excess can lead to a number of side effects but in moderation, they are perfectly fine (ideally no more than 2 per day). You should also note that some protein shakes are of a higher quality that others so choosing the right one is extremely important (see my top 10 protein powders).

#3 – You Aren’t Lifting Enough Weight

One of the things that is always subject to much debate is the ‘weight vs reps’ argument. Some argue that you should opt for a slightly lower weight and do more reps, whilst others argue that a heavier weight with less reps is best for muscle hypertrophy. The reality is, there is no right and wrong answer as different combinations will work differently depending on each individual.

Personally, I think aiming for around 8 – 10 reps is best as this is most likely to work for most people. Lifting heavier weights and doing less reps (under 8 reps) is likely to focus too much on strength rather than mass gains whereas anything over 10 reps is likely to be focussed more on endurance. Higher reps can lead to mass gains but the quality of muscle is likely to be low, although as I mentioned, the exact optimum number of reps to build muscle varies from person-to-person.

However, whatever number of reps you do opt for, you need to make sure that you are pushing yourself. If you can get to your desired number of reps on every set without at least a little bit of a struggle, you need to increase the weight; although you need to make sure that you don’t increase the weight so much that you can’t execute the correct form as this is crucial to a successful workout.

#4 – You Aren’t Achieving The Correct Form

Following on from our last point, we reach another common reason that a lot of people aren’t building muscle; correct form. Personally, this is one of my ‘pet hates’ and the number of times I see this on almost a daily basis at the gym is astonishing. Correct form is usually compromised when you try to lift too much and can be compromised during almost any exercise.

One of the most common examples of this tends to occur when people are exercising their biceps. You will see skinny men grabbing the 20kg dumbbells as they believe, the heavier the weight, the more muscle they’re going to build. The truth is that it doesn’t always work like this as without correct form, you aren’t going to be targeting the muscles correctly. Still, you see them doing dumbbell curls with these overly heavy weights and in order to lift them, they launch them into the air with every rep with the help of their back.

Not only does this mean that they’re now inadvertently targeting other muscle groups rather than their biceps, but it also puts them at risk of severe injury. You should always perform every exercise with a controlled, slow movement. If you can’t do this, then lower the weight

#5 – You Are Working Out Too Much (Or Too Little)

Another part of gaining muscle mass that is exceptionally important is how frequently you workout. Unfortunately, getting the balance right is a pretty hard thing to do and most people will either workout far too little, or far too often.

First of all, let me tackle the ‘far too often’ guys. Working out too often is going to hold back your muscle building efforts as one of the most important phases in muscle building is the rest phase. It is not actually the act of working out but rather the resting period that actually builds muscle mass. When you workout, you create microscopic tears in your muscle fibers and as these are repaired by your body, muscle mass increases. If you are putting your muscles under too much stress and not giving them sufficient resting time, it can actually lead to a decrease in muscle mass.

Now, for those that workout too little, it’s simple, get to the gym more often! Ideally, if you are serious about gaining muscle, you should be heading to the gym and performing weight lifting exercises at least 3 – 4 times per week. It is a good idea to focus on no more than 2 muscle groups per day (e.g. biceps and triceps, or back and chest). This way, you will allow each muscle group plenty of resting time if you stick to a regular workout schedule.

#6 – You Are Doing Too Much Cardio

You’ve probably heard a million times that you won’t be able to get good muscle definition (or reveal those six pack abs) if your bodyfat percentage is too high. To combat this, you’ve decided to hit the running machine for an hour or so every few days. Sure, this is going to keep you fit but if your primary goal is to get ripped and build muscle, chances are that you could be doing too much.

Every time you do cardio, you are burning calories quicker than you do normally. Of course, this is what leads to weight loss for a lot of people. If you’re burning too many calories, your body isn’t going to have enough energy to function, and then you are at risk of your body breaking down your muscle tissue in order to obtain enough energy.

As strange as it sounds, unless you are substantially overweight, cardio will more than likely need to be kept to a minimum during a muscle building phase. If you do want to do cardio, you need to realize that you will need to eat more to ensure that you aren’t burning more calories than you are consuming.

Conclusion

While there are a number of other things that can prevent you from building muscle, I find that these tend to be the most common. Nutrition and exercise are complex subjects and the truth is, nobody’s perfect. Most people are usually at risk of incorporating at least one of these problems into their routines, so hopefully, this post will have pointed out any flaws you might not have realized were flaws and promote a change.

Bio: Joshua Hardwick is a fitness enthusiast, with a particular interest in muscle building and getting ripped. He mainly writes for his own website; iWantASixPack.com, giving muscle building advice and regularly dispelling common muscle building myths.

You can follow Joshua on various social networks including Twitter, Facebook, Pinterest, StumbleUpon and Google Plus.

photo credit

47 Factors That May Be Preventing You From Losing Fat

Working out too much might be preventing fat loss!

You may tell me that it’s as easy as burning more calories than you consume. Thus, eat less and move more.

My reply?

Have fun starving!

The following are 47 different factors that may be preventing you from losing fat. There are thousands out there but these are what came to my mind first. I’d love for you to add to this list by leaving a comment below.

  1. Eating too little
  2. Eating too much
  3. Excessive stress
  4. Excessive cortisol production
  5. Lack of sleep
  6. Excessive rancid omega 6 fatty acid consumption
  7. Too little sunlight
  8. Too little activity
  9. Too much activity
  10. Too much coffee
  11. Being too attached to your material things
  12. Not spending enough time outdoors
  13. Lack of saturated fat intake
  14. The act of counting calories
  15. Mindless eating
  16. Poor digestion
  17. Constantly wishing to lose weight
  18. Not engaging in any strength barring exercises
  19. Dining out too often (rancid omega 6 heaven!)
  20. Being anti-social because you are so conscious of your weight
  21. Reading too much while taking no action
  22. Deficiency of vitamins and minerals
  23. Low consumption of probiotic foods
  24. Consuming too much insoluble fiber (veggie skins and grains)
  25. Spending too much time on your computer, iPad or iPhone (or similar devices)
  26. Spending too much time watching television
  27. Not being able to calm and relax yourself
  28. Living in constant fear
  29. Worrying about every little thing
  30. Limiting salt intake
  31. Not drinking enough water
  32. Drinking too much water
  33. Eating too low carb
  34. Attempting to be perfect with your diet (there is no such thing)
  35. Copying exactly what someone else is doing
  36. Losing the ability to listen to your own body
  37. Eating based on your emotions
  38. Treating nuts and seeds as more than a condiment
  39. Thinking plant form ALA is doing you much good
  40. Avoiding fruit even though you digest it perfectly fine
  41. Avoiding white potatoes but instead eating tons of sweet potatoes
  42. Thinking too much about the destination rather than enjoying the entire journey
  43. Not going cold turkey into a strict 30 day protocol
  44. Avoiding baby steps that will allow you to build better habits
  45. Drinking too much alcohol (or any at all for that matter)
  46. You are at your ideal weight but just want to be skinny
  47. Your hormones are way out of wack

Photo Credit

7 Reasons Why I Love Exercising (And You Should Too)

Exercise is an absolute must if you want optimal health.Without movement, you will slowly deteriorate.

Yet, millions of humans will do whatever it takes to avoid any type of movement. Even my brother, who is very fit and strong, prefers to drive a car versus walking one mile. Is this really where society is headed? Yes, but I am here to change that.

Why should you exercise? To me, exercising means walking and engaging in bodyweight exercises. It means to play. To have fun. To play tag with adults. To play sports. I guess it means to be a kid again.

There are probably hundreds of reasons why I love to exercise (and why you should too). I’ll present to you 7 in this article. Please leave a comment below stating why you love to exercise.

1. Exercising makes me feel awesome

Every single time I exercise I feel like I am on top of the world. Even when I am just walking. There is something about movement. I enjoy standing, like I am now while writing this article, but I most definitely would prefer to be walking, jogging, sprinting, engaging in bodyweight exercises or playing a sport.

When I sit around all day and do nothing I feel like crap. I don’t want to do anything. I want to remain lazy and stay in all day. Sometimes this can be a beautiful thing.

However, obesity rates are now at 38% in the US which scares the living daylights out of me.  We don’t need to run 5 miles a day. We simply need to move more.

2. Exercise trains me to do the impossible

That’s a 2 pound burger and about 2-3 more pounds of fries. I ate it all in 45 minutes. Bam!

Have you ever completed the impossible? Like climb Mt. Everest? Walk across America? I’m not sure I want to climb Mt. Everest but I do want to walk across every single state in America. You’ll learn more about this adventure soon.

Wouldn’t it be awesome to be able to do 100 push-ups at once? What about 50 pull-ups? Maybe you want to dominate the beach volleyball court or throw a frisbee with precision. If you have never come close to doing this and if no one else has done it then you will immediately assume that it’s impossible. It’s humans natural instinct.

Yet we can fly to the moon, land on mars, fly to anywhere in the world, go scuba diving, jump off a plane miles in the air, and more. These things are impossible. Yet humans are doing them daily. I want to be able to do what most think is impossible. What most wish they could do but believe they can’t do because they are not physically fit enough.

It’s all crap. You can do anything you set your mind to. If a blind man can climb Mt. Everest then you can surely do anything you want to as well.

What are you waiting for?

3. Exercise boosts my confidence

Have you been lacking confidence recently? Ask yourself what types of movements you have done recently.

My confidence flies through the rough during and after exercising. Again, this can include a simple quarter of a mile walk, randomly doing 20 squats or push-ups, or sprinting for just 5 seconds. Even standing instead of sitting helps (this is why I am standing while I work 90% of the time).

I push myself but not to the point where I risk injury. I continue to get stronger and more fit overall. Knowing this is huge for my psyche. If I can do 20 straight chin-ups (so close!) then I truly believe I can do anything I set my mind to.

Lacking confidence? Go for a walk! Do a few push-ups!

4. Exercise makes me look good naked

Nutrition is 80% of it they say but that other 20% is very vital. Again, a short walk will do wonders for so many people.

Your biceps won’t grow if you eat a perfect diet but fail to move much. You have to engage in movements that work your biceps. Duh! Go do a few chin-ups. Do you want a strong chest? Drop down and do a few push-ups. The slower you go the more difficult it becomes and thus the more you are working your muscles.

I’m no Mark Sisson or Steve Kamb (2 of my many heroes) but I do look good naked. I’ll always be trying to look better but I will also always accept me for who I am. If I don’t ever get a 6-pack it will mean nothing to me. I’m close so I will fight for it. Time will tell.

On a side note, I absolutely must mention that both men and women look better naked with too much fat compared to not enough fat. Also, this is healthier. I’m not saying weighing 300 pounds is healthy. I think you know what I mean. Right?

Ladies: Begin building muscle NOW and the fat will come off if you have any that your body doesn’t want. Men don’t go after the skinny bitches.

5. I would not mind a 6-pack (no beer, thank you)

Sure, I may be able to only walk and do nothing else while eating very well and get my 6-pack. But, engaging in bodyweight exercises will accelerate the process. I know I have plenty of time (I’m 24 years young!) so I am not at all worried but that does not mean I won’t go for the gold.

6. Exercising is fun, relaxing and rewarding

Do you have as much fun as these kids are when you exercise?

If you are not having fun, feeling relaxed or rewarded while or after exercising, then well, you should consider quitting. Do something else. I sometimes engage in intense crossfit style workouts. This is fun and rewarding.

Walking is the most important exercise and is incredibly relaxing. It’s also rewarding and can be a lot of fun.

If you are running 5 miles a day and are stressed out because you hate it so much then you need to stop. Now. Start engaging in resistant exercises. Start playing like you’re a kid again. You will have a riot and feel rejuvenated. I promise.

7. More exercise means more real food

I’m a foodie. A lover of real, wholesome food. Food that nourishes my body and makes me feel awesome.

The more I exercise, the more calories my body requires. It’s amazing how true this is when the standard weight loss advice is to eat less and exercise more. How about begin moving and eat real food?! (Notice how I did not say more or less for either).

Food may cost money but it is my highest priority. It’s yours too, right? I can’t function how I want to if I don’t nourish my body well. I’ll purchase pastured eggs over eggs from a chicken stuffed in a cage egg any day. Why? More nutrition. I’ll also purchase 100% grass-fed beef over a factory raised cow any day. Why? More nutrition. These decisions go beyond nutrition but it is the main reason.

I also love smoothies. I particularly enjoy them after an intense workout since nutrients are utilized at a more efficient rate. Oh! Did you know that my ebook, Toadally Primal Smoothies, is now FREE? Yup. Click here to check it out!

So, that is my rant about why I love to exercise. Why something as simple as walking and doing a push-up or pull-up can be so beneficial.

Why do YOU love to exercise? What types of exercise do you engage in?

photo credit, photo credit