Why You Are Not Making Gains
Those who lift have probably at some point in their training life experienced the following: you work out like crazy, maybe 4-5 times a week, make an extra effort to make it to the gym, perform multiple exercises per muscle group – and yet with all that extra training you are not making any significant gains (size or strength).
It’s not that you are not working hard enough in the gym. Many trainees simply fail to recognise that building muscle or strength does not equal time spent in the gym.
Equation for Training Success
If you want to improve your training success, bearing the following equation in mind will be key:
TRAINING + SLEEP + FOOD (+TIME) = MUSCLE/STRENGTH
You don’t grow in the gym. You grow at the dinner table and when you tune out to sleep. And yet, most trainees are convinced that the training part is the more signicant variable in the equation. At the same they will be in a caloric deficit and subsisting on too little sleep. This highly inefficient process will be frustrating and the end result is that muscle/strength improvements will be slow and tedious.
In my opinion, the 3 variables above are roughly equally important. However, if the SLEEP and FOOD components aren’t taken care of properly, no training in the world will give you the most optimal results in the long term. You need to allow your body to take the stimulus you gave it during training and supercompensate by eating and sleeping enough while letting sufficient time pass between training days. If you want to learn more about why our body needs to supercompensate to become better, check out my article HERE.
I realise that changing somebody’s belief that „More Training = More Muscle/Strength“ is not easy. Therefore, I think that two relatively small changes can go a very long way in allowing your body to improve dramatically.
Go To Bed 1 Hour Earlier
During sleep, your body is most actively repairing the damage you inflicted in your muscle fibers during training. At the same time, the release of growth hormones is at its highest during sleep. Combine that with sufficient nutrients and calories in your diet, and YOU WILL GROW.
That’s why I having 1 extra hour of sleep is one crazy powerful biohack. It doesn’t sound like a lot. But in just one week. you will have an extra 7 hours of recovery sleep. That’s how much most people sleep during one regular night. Except these 7 hours are given to you for free at no cost whatsoever with the side effect that your recovery and gains will be better.
Forget 99% of the popular supplements out there, and supplment with 1 hour extra sleep instead.
Eat One Meal More Per Day
Gaining mass and getting stronger means that you have to eat. A lot. However, it’s stupid to make drastic dietary changes by jumping from 2500 cal/day to 4000 cal/day thinking that it will build more muscle as opposed to only a slight caloric surplus. Most trainees ramping their calories up so much will end fatter with more muscle AND BODYFAT to show off. If you diet back down to your previous bodyfat level, you will not have made exceptional gains just because you ate like a madman for some time.
Therefore, don’t overeat! In the long run, your body won’t grow faster and overeating will fatigue the shit out of you. Instead, try adding an extra 300-500 cal/day. Doesn’t sound like a lot. But similar to the 1 hour extra sleep per night, these calories will also sum up over time. Unlike overeating, you won’t become a fat slob on 300-500 cal/day extra but you will likely be making decent gains.
This extra meal could be in the form of a snack in the early afternoon or late at night. I personally love low-fat curd cheese mixed with marmelade, coconut flakes, cinnamon and some fruit. Yoghurt, nuts, fruit, cottage cheese etc are all options. I wouldn’t worry so much about what food it is but paying attention to the extra calories you are getting from that meal. I don’t usually count calories but I would for this one extra meal.
Eat like you would normally and just add an extra 300-500 calories. This won’t be hard to do because you are not increasing daily caloric consumption by a huge difference.