easyGym

If you’ve been weight training for a while, you may find yourself asking, ‘why have my muscles stopped growing?’ This is often followed by the statement ‘it’s strange because I’m adding more weight to my lifts every week so I know I’m getting stronger.

The problem with that statement is this… If you’re bodybuilding, your mission objective is to increase the size of your muscles, not to become a power lifter, so don’t worry about the weight you are lifting or your muscle strength too much.

 

TIME UNDER TENSION (TUT)

So, why have your muscles stopped growing? The answer to this question is very simple: Your muscles need more TIME UNDER TENSION, not more weight…

‘Gaining size’ (hypertrophy training) and ‘getting stronger’ (strength training) are accomplished in two completely separate styles and methods of training. You can become stronger by adding more weight to your routine but this doesn’t necessarily mean you will gain any mass or size. The reason being that if you are lifting in a fashion where your tempo is too quick and your rest periods are too long, your muscles are under tension for a very short amount of time and then under no tension for too long whilst resting.

 

INCREASE YOUR WEIGHTS

Increasing your lifting weight is quite easily achieved if you are putting the hours in at the gym; all you need is a considerable amount of power and an explosive movement/technique to get the weight up. BUT, as previously mentioned, you will eventually hit a brick wall if you are training for size.

So let’s look at how we can utilise TUT training to its full potential. Time under tension put simply is ‘the amount of time you put your muscles under tension for during exercise’.

 

ADD MORE VOLUME

You want to be adding more VOLUME to your sessions, so things like drop sets, negative reps, slowing down the tempo of your reps, not ‘locking out’ which will release the tension and shorter rest periods.

You may have to decrease the weight you have been lifting but that isn’t a concern as you are not training for strength, so please don’t be concerned about this AND your sessions may finish quicker as your putting your muscles under tension for a more condensed period of time.

 

SUGGESTED TRAINING

An example of the variables and parameters to stick to for your training could be:

 

VOLUME
3 sets of 10 repetitions

 

REST
60 seconds

 

INTENSITY
65-75% of your one-rep-max

 

TEMPO

3-1-4 (tempo is the 3 phases of a repetition, if you take a bench press for example the first phase of the lift will be 3 seconds, once you hit the peak hold for 1 second and then lower the weight for four seconds)

 

If you are attending the gym regularly, you may want to supplement your workouts with protein or other supplement. Supplements can help with muscle repair, strength gain, and muscular atrophy (size gain). Whatever you use it for, supplemental protein can have a dramatic effect on the work you do.

However, if you want to start taking protein or supplements, choosing the right one can be difficult. With so many different types and brands available, how are you to know which is right for you? We’ve put together a list of some supplement types out there, and outlined the advantages and disadvantages of each:

 

 
WHEY PROTEIN

Possibly the most popular of all proteins, whey protein is the standard supplement choice for many gym goers. Whey protein is normally used to increase size and strength without major gains in body mass. Whey protein is high in branched chain amino acids, and it can have a powerful anabolic effect on muscle growth. It’s perfect if you want to increase your power and strength without putting on the pounds. It can also be used to suppress hunger and help reduce body fat whilst retaining muscle. Whey protein comes in a variety of different flavours, and can normally be mixed into milk to make a milkshake or porridge, or can be mixed with water.

 

SOY PROTEIN

Often seen as a healthier alternative to whey protein, soy protein is made from soybean meal that has been dehulled and defatted. Scientifically, it is known as complete protein, as it provides all of the essential amino acids for human nutrition. Soy protein is free from dairy or animal protein, and is, therefore, popular amongst vegetarians and vegans. Soy protein can also lower cholesterol and the risk of heart disease, whilst supporting significant muscle gain without increasing body fat.

Some people use soy protein alongside a whey protein plan, as they complement each other very well. As we have already noted, whey protein is high in branched chain amino acids, whereas soy protein provides high amounts of glutamine and arginine.

 

CASEIN

If you’re on a lower calorie diet, you can often come across issues with lean muscle mass loss. As you’re not supplying your body with enough calories to support all of your energy needs, you’ll end up using stored body tissues for energy instead. This is where casein will come in very useful.

Casein has multiple benefits including improvements to dental protection and colon health. The higher calcium content in casein is also beneficial for total fat loss. One of casein’s benefits is that it provides amino acids at a slow and steady pace that last for hours. It’s widely known that muscles don’t build overnight. However, drinking a glass of casein-rich milk right before bed will work wonders. During sleep, the body is normally starved of nutrients, so a slow release protein such as casein is ideal for overnight recovery.

 

 

CREATINE

Creatine is somewhat of a controversial subject in health and fitness. Whilst many people have praised the dramatic effect it can have on your body, others insist that it can be detrimental and have nasty side effects.

Creatine is typically bought in flavoured powders. Like most other workout supplements and proteins, creatine increases your body’s ability to produce energy. It is, therefore, used mainly in high intensity, explosive activities like weight lifting, sprinting, and throwing. It works by channelling water into your muscles, which stimulates protein synthesis at a faster rate. Athletes in these areas swear it works, and fast, but why the controversy, and what are the reported side effects?

For starters, if you take creatine you will put on weight. Unlike some protein supplements, which aim to increase power without significant weight gain, creatine works by bulking out your muscles. It will also have a different effect on each person that takes it. Those who regularly eat red meat might not see such a noticeable effect, as red meat contains a fair amount of creatine. Vegetarians, however, may see a more dramatic effect, as they have a lower everyday intake of creatine.

You should only take creatine if you have a heavy workout schedule, as you need to combine it with lots of exercise to see an effect. Additionally, anyone under eighteen should not take it, as scientists are not yet sure of the effects it might have on growing muscles and bones.

Only you can make the right decision about which protein / supplement would best aid the work you do at easyGym. However, we hope this guide has provided a bit more direction! Remember, taking protein or other supplements is not a substitute for healthy eating, so keep up everything else you’ve been doing to stay healthy.