If you’ve been working out for a while you can likely feel that you have one or two stubborn muscles that just don’t keep up with the rest of your body. For many people, maybe their calves lag behind in growth compared to the rest of their legs, or perhaps it’s that their back feels weak in comparison to their chest or arms. What causes these muscles to lag behind, and what can you do to promote their growth? Keep on reading to find out!
You’ve Been Taught the Wrong Way to Lift
Abs and calves are two muscle groups that a huge percentage of weightlifters complain about. They claim to train them just as much as other muscle groups, and they feel sore for days after the workout is finished. There are a couple of reasons why these two muscle groups are very commonly behind in their growth, and one reason is that the information circulating about how to work these muscles out is wrong. For many years even experts have said that you need to train fast twitch muscles at low weight, and maximum reps.
However, one of the biggest keys for muscle growth is called time under tension. Time under tension is essentially the time that your muscles are working throughout their range of motion. If you’re working out your fast twitch muscles (or any muscle for that matter) in a way that reduces time under tension, you will see very little strength or size gains in that muscle group. Next time you train your abs or calves, instead of doing hundreds of light quick reps, load up the weight and slowly control your movement through the range of motion to provide maximum time under tension. Give it a few weeks and let the gains begin!
You’re Focusing on the Wrong Exercises
This is a big one for people who struggle to put on strength in their legs and back. For many people, the idea of doing a compound lift is intimidating. Compound lifts are complex, take a lot of skill, and if done with improper form, can cause injuries. Instead, many gym-goers opt to use machines like the leg press or leg extension, and the cable row machine. This isn’t to say using those machines can’t be very helpful (they can), but they aren’t the optimal movements for max growth or strength. Instead, build a strong base using compound lifts, then sculpt your muscles using the weight machines.
If you’re in the camp that is intimidated by heavy compound lifts, don’t be! Start light, maybe even with just the bar. Perfect your form and you will be surprised at how quickly you can start adding the weight!
You Haven’t Optimized Your Nutrition
You’ve probably heard thousands of times by now just how important proper nutrition is to both a healthy lifestyle and gains in the gym. It is absolutely true that what you put into your body is what you will get out of it. If your goal is to build a lot of muscle, you’re going to have to eat, a lot. If you’re not eating enough calories, you won’t be able to put on a whole lot of muscle mass. The amount of calories needed to build muscle or lose fat is different for everyone based on their metabolism, and resting calorie burn.
To get an idea of how many calories you should be eating every day to build the most muscle or burn that stubborn fat, check out this tool. Once you’ve determined your average daily calorie burn, you will then know what you need to be eating in order to build muscle or lose fat. The number you get may surprise you.
Are you looking for coaching or training to improve your gains in the gym? At Balance Fitness we offer personal training that will take your gym experience to the next level. We can also provide you with the gym equipment you need to work out right and pack on muscle! You can contact us conveniently online, or just give us a call! We’d be happy to discuss your gym and personal fitness goals!