“SOS, I’m losing muscle!” »
You’ve been spending tons of time in the gym, but your muscles don’t seem to be responding. They’re barely visible, if at all, and you’re not seeing the definition and sculpted body you were expecting.
The fact is, certain mistakes can negatively impact muscles and lead to muscle wasting.
Here are 5 mistakes that will make you lose muscle.
1. Exercising for too long will ultimately hinder muscle growth
A good workout session should last between 40 and 80 minutes. Anything more, and it’s much too long! If your average workout is over 80 minutes, then we’ve already found your first mistake.
I’ll explain why:
As you exceed a certain length of time in your workout your body begins to produce elevated levels of cortisol, the stress hormone.
Of course, we know that this catabolic effect (breaking down of muscle tissue) is essential because it stimulates the body to repair muscles to make them stronger and bigger, in preparation for your next workout.
However, exercising for too long can overstress the muscles and lead to diminished gains.
The bottom line: a session of 45 minutes to an hour is ideal to optimize muscle growth.
2. Your workout is not designed to promote muscle gain
Perhaps your training program is not geared towards muscle building.
Here is a general rule of thumb: an effective, well-balanced workout session should include a maximum of 3 to 7 exercises. Each exercise can be performed an average of 3 to 5 times, in short sets (no more than 12 repetitions per set)!
Next, you should try to lift the heaviest weights you possibly can. If you perform a set of 10 repetitions, your weight should allow you to do the first 6-7 reps fairly “easily”, while the last 3-4 reps should require a great deal of physical effort.
Finally, your training routine should focus on muscle “strength”, not “endurance”. So forget about those long slogs on the treadmill. However, you can incorporate one or two explosive exercises (like jump squats or burpees) into your session; they will elevate your heart rate and promote muscle fiber recruitment. Focus on compound exercises that involve more than one muscle group for 60% to 70% of your session, as they will make you stronger much faster. You can keep your more targeted exercises for the remaining 30% to 40% of the workout.
Download the Fitness Coach app for some awesome workouts.
3. Too much exercise can lead to declining performance.
Here is a common mistake you shouldn’t make: not knowing when to stop. It’s very important to take rest days between two workout sessions.
Muscles need downtime to repair and rebuild.
If you train every day, all you’re doing is destroying your muscle fibers. This will cause your muscle mass to slowly diminish rather than increase in size and strength and also lead to a decline in your performance.
4. Lack of sleep hinders muscle regeneration.
Sleep is essential to human health. In fact, we need sleep to survive.
Regular physical activity does not counter the harms of poor sleep. Quite the opposite is true! Your body needs sleep because it is during this time that it undergoes cellular regeneration.
Consecutive late nights and partying is a very bad idea. This will inevitably lead to muscle wasting. Not to mention, you’ll be exhausted and won’t have the energy you need for your workouts (another factor that would explain your muscle loss).
5. An inadequate diet lacking in nutrients inhibits muscle development
Restricting your calorie intake is not a good long-term solution. I know I stress this point time and again, but some misconceptions seem to remain deeply embedded in most people’s minds. Whether you’re looking to lose weight or gain muscle mass, it is vital to eat a sufficient amount of nutrient-rich foods. Depriving yourself will not help you to achieve your goals. Far from it!
- Read: “Dieting is a Bad Idea“
When you exercise, you induce micro-traumas (tiny tears in the muscle fibers) and increase the body’s need for energy (food) to repair this damage. This is why it’s important to provide the body with essential nutrients. No, you will not gain weight! Your muscles are energy efficient, so the more muscle you have, the more calories you burn!
If you starve yourself, your body will start to consume energy stores —fats, carbohydrates, then the protein parts of tissue, in other words, your muscles!