In my 3 decades of training experience I have identified 5 major bodybuilding troubles or problems. These are:-
1 Overtraining...training too much...too often and too long. Not taking a complete week off every 3 months...
2 Under eating...Not eating enough...you need 6 meals per day minimum...every day, including weekends...
3 Neglecting the window of opportunity for rapid growth by not taking Whey protein and creatine immediately after training...
4 Not stretching properly to facilitate easy growth...
5 Not focussing your mental muscle on who you want to become...
1 Overtraining...training too much...too often and too long. Not taking a complete weeks break or rest every 3 months.
This would have to be the most common trouble that hinders many would be successful bodybuilders from realising their full potential. And it's a particularly insidious trouble because we have been taught that to get things in life , we have to work hard. Well that's true to some extent both in life and weight training. In weight training we have to train hard as far as intensity goes...if you want to get big you need to push big weights. But where the problem creeps in is that we apply rules from other places that don't apply to weight training. The rules I am talking about can be best illustrated with an example. I want to grow a big bank account...So I work a few jobs or set up a few businesses that give me multiple streams of income. Hey presto...that works...my hard work and long hours returns lots of money and a big fat bank account.
The problem is when we apply this more is better to weight training, with the underlying premise that if training 3 days per week made me gain 3 pounds of muscle in 8 weeks...then if I train 6 days a week I should be able to put on 6 pounds of muscle in the same time. Or if training 30 minutes per workout made me gain 3 pounds...then if I train an hour and a half(3 x as long) I should be able to put on 9 pounds(3x as much) BIG MISTAKE...BIG TROUBLE...The logic on the surface sounds OK...but the underlying reality is quite different. The only thing the extra training does is burn you out and frustrate you with diminished returns. When I owned and operated my two bodybuilding gyms I used to see this all the time...and you just can't tell some people.
They are so caught up in the belief that more is better that they are too scared to cut back on their routine lest they slip back...the irony is they won't "slip" back...they will actually burst forwards because they are unaware that they are being held back by over stressing their body. Don't get me wrong...hard work isn't bad...and sometimes its the persistence factor that gives (lands) us the big win. But the way to burst through sticking points is not to add exercises or volume (sets, reps)...but to add or increase intensity.( bigger weights...higher resistance...less rest between sets) Now since volume and intensity are inversely proportional, it is only logical that to increase intensity you also need to reduce volume. To overcome this block or obstacle requires you to do less...but make what you do even harder.
Another trouble related to this is the myth that as you become more advanced...you need to train more. Nothing could be further from the truth...you actually need to train less (but smarter...with more intensity) The reason for this is because although your strength and size becomes greater over time...your recovery ability does not increase to the same extent...your ability to recover improves only marginally compared to your ability to get stronger. Why does this happen? Think of it this way...when you first started and had, for example 12" arms...
If you did a set to failure of bicep curls, the amount of stress being inflicted on your total body wasn't that great because 12" arms don't require that much blood flow and the small muscle cell size isn't much of a drain on your energy or nervous system. However, when your arms have grown to say 18" and you do a set to failure...the weight will be huge compared to when you were a beginner...and the subsequent drain on the bodies total energy system and the shock effect this has will be immense. Although your strength may have improved by over one hundred percent, your bodies ability to recover won't have...your arms might be 50% greater in size...but your capacity for recovery won't have increased by 50%(more like 30% maximum)... and this leads to the condition of overtraining that we are talking about. So as you become more advanced...keep thinking of ways to make your training harder (more intense) but shorter in duration and less in volume.
I remember years ago I was at a sticking point with my own training...and I was getting really frustrated. Nothing seemed to work for me. I thought I was doing everything optimally...eating right...getting plenty of sleep etc...but my weight hadn't budged for months. I was at 89 kilos and I desperately wanted to break the 90 kilo barrier, but nothing seemed to work...I suppose the 90 kilo barrier to me was like Roger Bannister's four minute mile...this was my four minute mile...which the final solution was to be a four minute instead of four hour (I'm exaggerating here, but I hope you get my drift) exercise workout!
Time to try something different I thought...what I was doing obviously wasn't working...so I had nothing to lose. I had read Mike Mentzers Heavy Duty training book, which had just been released. His Arthur Jones based training ideas were quite revolutionary...Incredibly heavy, hard intense workouts that were very brief. So I started experimenting with this style of training. I remember everybody thinking what the hell is he doing...some were even chuckling behind my back...despite the fact that I was by this stage a successful competitive bodybuilder. I remember one exercise session vividly...the first time I did heavy negatives on the dip rack. I got my training partner to help me suspend a 100-pound dumbbell via a chain from my training belt. He would help get me to the top position of the dip by lifting me at the knees, and I would have to lower myself slowly under control to the bottom.
The weight was so heavy I couldn't even do a single positive rep on my own. I finished my first set of 4 reps, and when I looked up I noticed the whole gym had stopped to watch what I was doing. At first people just dismissed this radical for the time style of training...but when after only 3 weeks I had busted through my sticking point and my weight soared to 92 kilos... people weren't laughing anymore. I was stoked. I purposely had not weighed myself for three weeks because I was hoping to get a pleasant surprise...I felt and knew this new style of training was working for me based on the mirror and judging by the fact that my strength was rapidly improving (100 pound db was too light for the dip now because I was capable of doing positive reps with it).
I would have been happy to have just hit 90kg...but I overshot it by 2 kilos (4.4 pounds). I was sold on this new style of training...a 3 kg (6.6 lb) gain in only 3 weeks...after months of not putting on an ounce...and with a fraction of the amount of work I had been previously doing. At first everyone wanted to know what I was on! What I was on was an incredibly effective training routine, and soon others started copying and getting similar results. And it wasn't before too long 90 kilos seemed like a joke as I crashed through the 100 kg barrier(220 pounds) But this never would have been possible for me if I had just followed the masses and continued with my 20 sets per body part training systems.
So my advice to avoid this problem of overtraining is to continually be searching for ways to make your workout harder, not longer. Do less, but achieve more. Bigger weights...less sets...higher intensity...less rest period between sets...less exercises...less training days...more rest days...this will ultimately make your workouts super effective...and more fun!
For parts 2-5 of this five part series?Visit http://ironpower.biz/download.htm and download yourself a FREE copy of "5 Familiar Bodybuilding Troubles?Which Do You Want To Overcome?" E-Book. Part 4 of the eBook reveals a secret stretching technique for unleashing phenomenal muscle growth.
About the author: Richard Hargreaves is a former Mr Australia, and personal trainer with 25 years experience. He has written numerous bodybuilding and fitness books, and articles for magazines such as Australian Ironman, Australian Musclemag, Taekwondo, Blitz martial Arts, Kickboxer, Natural Bodybuilder, Network Fitness, Australian Personal Trainer, Personal Training On The Net, and Women's Fitness. Visit http://ironpower.biz/download.htm to download Bodybuilding and Fitness eBooks valued at $70, absolutely FREE.