GAINS!! How Many of Us Have Them?

Cavino Johnson May 6, 2014 Training Articles

Ok.  Gloves off on this one.

After years of “doing” this training thing, one of the most repetitive statements I get from people is, “I just can’t seem to get bigger!”.  I’m an observant person.  It’s how I learn what kind of person someone is.  So, I sit back and I observe.

Insert excuse [here]

There have always been, always will be, excuses for “not being able to grow”.  I think, at this point in my career, I have heard them all.  Barring a serious medical issue or illness, not being able to grow is a load of crap… in my humble opinion.  The first thing people like to use as an excuse is, “Oh, genetically, I can’t put on muscle…”.  What?  Are you just skin and bones?  If there is muscle fiber, they can grow.  Another one I hear a lot is, “I lift heavy all the time…”.  Well, that’s great.  You are able to bench press 405 two times.  Good for you.  But what if you repped 225 for 25 reps?  Don’t you think there would be more working muscle fibers in that 25 reps than the 405 for 2?  I think yes.  Granted, you do want to become stronger.  Adding more muscle helps.  But, the way that my muscles respond is much greater if I were to do a set of, for example, 225lbs for 25 reps, a 2nd set for 20 reps and then a 3rd for 15 versus doing 3 sets of 2.  But that’s just me.  You can throw all the internet education in it that you want.  This works for me… and I know hundreds of other lifters who see it the same way, based on experience.

You need structure

Now, don’t get me wrong.  Yes, it is a great idea to switch up your training split and your entire program.  There’s periodization, there’s TUT (Time Under Tension), Pyramids, etc., etc.  Personally, I like the simplicities of training.  The methods I just listed are a few that I do like a lot and I put them in rotation, often.  There are so may fancy training methods out there.  Keep it simple.  Keep it intense.  Even when I construct the weekly training split for the Athletic Xtreme Muscle Book free training program, I keep it simple and I incorporate periodization.

Do not continue to confine yourself to what you always do, especially when you are trying to change yourself!”

Don’t fix it if it’s broke… wait, what?

There are people that walk into the gym doing the same lifts for the same rep ranges with the same weight, week in and week out, and are not growing.  Not anymore.  This is a “problem” that I see often.  The result is, the same physique every year.  People tend to get comfortable with routine.  Routine, honestly and again, in my humble opinion, sucks.  When I say routine, I don’t mean wake up and go through the day with no shower and unbrushed teeth until right before bed… I’m talking about the routines of mental processes that say, I’m going to bench press for 4 sets, at x amount of reps then I’m going to do flys for x amount of sets and reps and that’s all because that’s all they are comfortable with.  It even trickles into nutrition… “I eat chicken, fish and broccoli and asparagus every day… but, I am not growing…”.  You won’t grow.  Not with that mindset.  Not with that comfort or repetitive motion.  Step out, dude.  Try something different.  Chances are, if it makes you uncomfortable, it works… Unless it’s a bank robbery.  No, that probably won’t turn out well, for you, at all.  Don’t do that.  What I am talking about is trying new training splits, new reps and set ranges, new equipment, new methods, different macro sources… Do not continue to confine yourself to what you always do, especially when you are trying to change yourself!

Here is a list of things that might help you gain GAINS!!

  1. Between sets, rest.  By rest, I mean, do not check your Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, etc.  Stay focused and mentally prep for the task at hand.
  2. No wasted conversations during training.  No meetings at the water fountain.  Sometimes, you will have to be that jerk that says, “Not right now.  Leave me alone.”
  3. Mentally prepare. You need to prepare yourself before you ever even stepping into the gym to train.  100% of training begins mentally.  If you do not have a clear vision of what you want to look like, then you will be wasting a training session just going through the motions… those comfortable motions.
  4. You have to eat.  Not just the staples of nutrition, such as chicken, fish, broccoli and asparagus… expand your pallet.  Try different protein sources, different carb sources, try new recipes, new fruits and veggies, track the macros and enjoy eating.  I grew out of bland foods a long time ago, thanks to my nutrition coach, and have become a wizard in the kitchen.  True, I am very well known for my love of doughnuts, and I will splurge every few weeks, but leading up to those euphorics couple days of fried bread, my nutrition is on point.  I do not consider cheat meals.  If you know what and how to eat, there’s no need for a cheat meal.  Food. It’s true.  You have to eat.  But not just anything.  You must eat according to your goals.  You want to put on muscle, eat to put on muscle.  Eat the right foods.  Notice, I didn’t say eat clean.  I said eat the right foods and eat them at the right times.  You have to know what you are eating and what it is doing inside your body.  If you want to lose body fat, eat accordingly.  No, you can not get turnt up at the local buffet.  I’m sorry. You just can’t.  You have to have some sort of restraint and knowledge to understand what you need to get where you want to be. Despite the silly, trending memes that litter the internet, food IS your friend.
  5. INTENSITY. Ok, so you sweat when you train.  That’s great.  You should.  But that doesn’t mean it’s intense.  Maybe you are in one of those gyms that keep the temperature at 80 degrees in the summer.  Maybe you decided to look like one of those cool pics in the magazines where the bodybuilder has on a hoodie, hood up- in the 80 degree temperature gym… in the summer.  Or maybe, you just sweat a lot, any time, any where, doing any thing.  When I say intensity, I’m talking about going those extra few reps when you have no more left in the tank or one more set when you don’t feel satisfied with the last 5 sets.  I’m talking about doing those dropsets from 100lbs down to the 20 and 30 pounds- 3 times.  Supersets, giant sets, non-counting reps to failure, forced reps… I’m talking about intensity.
  6. Rest.  Sleep.  Sleep is important.  Although you may think your muscles are growing in the gym, with every rep, truth is- they’re not.  When strength training (with major intensity), you are actually tearing the muscle fibers at a microscopic level.  They have a degree of damage.  Once training is done and you go home and have your post training meals, and then relax and get ready to retire for the evening, it is in those hours of sleep and rest that the muscles begin to heal and grow.  So if you are running through the days with 2-3 hours of sleep, you haven’t given your body the adequate time to recover and rebuild.  Go night night!!

    Although you may think your muscles are growing in the gym, with every rep, truth is- they’re not.” 

  7. Supplementation. Oh boy.  I could be opening a huge “can o’ worms” with this one, so I will keep it brief.  Yes.  You should have supplementation based on what you are wanting to accomplish.  I use a pre-training stimulant supplement (Supersize), a fat burner (SlimFX), a natural testosterone booster (MassFX Black), BCAAs (Stacked) and Creatine (German Creatine).  Along with these supplements, I use Vitamin C, fish oil, Flax oil, multi vitamin, and glutamine. And water (Jug Life).

So, if you are not making the “gains” you had envisioned some time ago, check your techniques, check your intensity, check yourself.  You could be your problem.

Till next time, lift heavy, lift often, lift happy!!

*(Athletic Xtreme offers 4 FREE training programs that include nutrition.  All you have to do is subscribe to the program of your choice and you can get started to day.  Just click on the Training Programs tab and get those GAINS!!)

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About The Author

A decade into the sport of natural bodybuilding, Cavino has won many competitions and currently holds a pro card. He also has personal training, group fitness and sports nutrition certifications that allows him to own his own private training service.

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