Why Can’t I Get Any Bigger In The Gym?
These instant tips will help you break through your muscle-building barrier
Who knows? While on one hand you can overcomplicate how you build muscle, also known as hypertrophy training, after a while you may find the amount of muscle you add stalls.
In that case, it’s worth starting by looking at your nutrition, and not just making sure you’re consuming enough protein to build muscle, but that you’re also eating a varied diet which includes the vitamins your body needs to build muscle. You may also need to look at your recovery.
Once those boxes are ticked, you may find advanced training techniques, like the ones recommended below, get things going again.
“At the end of every other bench press session, do lockouts as a partial rep,” says personal trainer Shaun Stafford. “This means you just do the top third of the lift. Use a heavy weight – at least your one-rep max – and do a couple of sets of three or four reps to hit the chest muscles hard while strengthening your tendons and ligaments to deal with a heavier weight next time.” Just make sure you recruit a good spotter – ideally one who’s read our guide to how to spot safely.
“A great way to boost your squat is cluster training,” says Stafford. “Set the bar with your five-rep max but aim for 10 reps – first do five, then rest for 15 seconds before cranking out three more. Take another brief rest, then fire off another couple before resting for a couple of minutes and repeating.” The logic of this method is that it allows you to lift more weight over more reps that you’d otherwise do, and so stimulates greater gains in both size and strength.
Blitz your biceps with negative reps because the eccentric, or lowering, phase of the biceps curl can deal with more weight. “You’ll need a partner for this but it is the best way of forcing your biceps to cope with heavier weights,” says Stafford. “Load up a barbell with 20 to 40% more weight that you’re used to. With help from your partner, curl the bar up until the bar is at the peak of the lift. Pause, then lower it, taking about four seconds, while in full control.” Aim for four sets of around six reps once a week.
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Nick Hutchings worked for Men’s Fitness UK, which predated, and then shared a website with, Coach. Nick worked as digital editor from 2008 to 2011, head of content until 2014, and finally editor-in-chief until 2015.