When I got to college I weighed a whopping 145 pounds. Did I workout in high school? Yea I guess so? I would go to weightlifting class, pump out some curls and call it a day. Needless to say, just like everyone else, I started from scratch. I looked like this.
We all start from somewhere, mine just happened to be in the time of bathroom selfies and when it was cool to bunch up your boxers above your shorts and never wear sunscreen?? Man, 2012 was a different time.
7 years Later these are the 5 mistakes I feel are the most important and you MUST AVOID in order to build muscle.
These are things I have learned over the years through myself, training others, research, and my education.
1. You're Not Getting Enough Sleep
If you don't sleep you don't recover and you don't grow. No questions asked. No debate. No way around it. If you want to build muscle you have to prioritize your sleep. 6 hours a night is okay-ish, 7-8 is better, but
honestly 9-10 hours of sleep is best
for recovery and allowing you to push the limits every time you get in the gym.
2. You're Not Eating Enough Protein
When you workout you break down tissue. You can't repair tissue without the building blocks to fill in the gaps. The protein you consume will repair and help grow new muscle. So how much do you need every day?
A good rule of thumb is 1 gram of protein per pound of body weight
So if you were like me and weighed 145 lbs, you would have needed 145 grams of protein.
3. Your Workout Structure Isn't Optimized
I remember when I started "going hard" in the gym when I was a freshman. Monday: chest, Tuesday: Back, Wednesday: *sorry bro cant make it I need to study*.. AKA Leg day. Thursday: Shoulders Friday: ARMS. Weekend- Chill. Yea this just isn't optimal if you want to build the most muscle in the fastest amount of time.
At a minimum we need to hit each body part two times a week
Now, based on your schedule, that can be difficult but with some rearranging and planning, it's possible.
4. Too Much Stress:
Stress and college might as well be the same words. Stress is inevitable. You will not get around it, but you can manage it. Using the gym is a great way to manage stress and get away from life. I've been doing it ever since the first time I did a bicep curl.
But listen closely, life stress, gym stress, relationship stress, school stress, late for class stress, realizing it's Wednesday and you missed Taco Tuesday stress... it's essentially all the same in the end physiological response.
You can only take so much stress on at a time. Then your body adapts and allows for more stress to be introduced. When you take on too much at once, you suffer in all parts of life. Gym performance will suffer. Do not combat life stress with excessive gym stress. You will not perform your best nor recovery the same. It's okay to take a day off from the gym if you've had 3 exams, 2 quizzes, a presentation, and research deadlines to meet in one day (If you're thinking about going to Physical Therapy School one day that one is for you). Bottom line: find balance in your stress and push yourself harder in the gym when you have less overall life stress.
5. The Timing of Your Alcohol Consumption:
If you're reading this you're probably in college so yes I know, you're going to have the choice whether you drink alcohol or not. I'm not here to tell you that you should or shouldn't. I'm here to say you that if you do, for starters be safe, but be smart about when you do so. Drinking heavily after a workout will blunt muscle protein synthesis. That means the muscle building signal your body receives after a hard workout is significantly lower than it would be otherwise which means less potential for growth. Does that mean you wasted a workout? Not necessarily, but you aren't getting the most out of it. I reviewed some research about it and made some practical suggestions in this IG post.