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Dieting without Gains

Written by admin, Saturday, February 5th, 2011 in Q&As

I’ve been hitting the gym almost every day and dieting hard. I’ve lost weight. Still, I haven’t gotten any gains. I lift heavy, so that’s not the problem. What’s going on?

The short answer: You’re dieting too hard and lifting too much. More or less, your program is more tailored to fat burning and muscle maintenance. You need to weight lift less, lift heavier, and change your diet.

The long answer:
First off, it appears as if you’re taxing your body far too much for muscle gains. Muscle gains (i.e. hypertrophy) come from lifting heavy weights and allowing your muscles adequate time to rest. For strict hypertrophy the best range is allegedly 6-8 reps with any given weight; however, I personally prefer beginning with as low as a 3-5 reps with a much higher weight and slowly lowering the weight to the 6-8 rep range (going until failure, i.e. as many sets as possible). In any case, no matter your lifting plan, you need rest periods in order to let your muscles grow — at minimum, I would say two or more rest days between workout periods are absolutely necessary if you lift hard enough. This is pretty much the reason why lifters split (or even triple) their routines — you can hit the gym more often while still allowing some muscles time to relax and grow.

Essentially, you are over-training. It’s admirable that you’re working so hard to develop a good body, but over-training does little for you other than tiring you out and lessening potential hypertrophy. In other words, the plan you have now is probably excellent for your weight loss goals, but horrible for gains.

So what do you need to do? I say look up some weight programming guides in order to develop a split training program that will give your muscles more time to rest and grow. Read legitimate weight lifting guides like the SL 5×5 beginner plans and see how they structure their workouts — ignore misguided manuals sold to fratboys at bookstores.

Incidentally, do remember that heavy dieting inhibits hypertrophy, so reconsider your dieting strategies. Don’t be afraid of eating more — while you won’t lose weight, it will help feed your muscles and develop your body in a way that will allow any weight loss later to be much easier and more efficient. This is the underlying theory of “bulking” — muscle growth occurs when you eat well and lift heavy, not when you eat as little as possible in a misguided attempt to get abs (or whatever).

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