Bulk Failure – What Your Muscle Building Plan Is Missing
Does the following sound like you?
You’ve read all the articles, sought out experienced lifters and asked for advice, refined your diet, maximized your training routine, are taking the basic supplements yet…you can’t build muscle. Before I tell you what you’re doing wrong, let’s look at what you’re probably doing right:
Calories – You’re taking in enough daily calories to gain. In fact, you probably seem to be gaining mostly fat and very little muscle.
Protein – You definitely are eating enough protein. Everyone knows this rule.
Training – You are persistent, rarely missing workouts.
Effort – When you’re in the gym, you work hard. You’re sweating, pumping and straining. You feel exhausted when you’re done.
Exercises – You are using mostly heavy compound exercises because you know they provide the most bang for your buck.
Sleep – You get enough sleep. This is a no brainer.
Overtraining – You definitely know you are NOT overtraining.
Patience – You’re not foolish and realize gains take time, yet…it’s been 12 months, or 18 months, or 24 months and nothing is happening!
There is one more step before I tell you what you’re doing incorrectly. The answer can be found in the following lift ranges. Where are your strength levels for the following exercises?
135 to 275 pounds
275 to 405 pounds
135 to 365 pounds
365 to 505 pounds
Bench Press/Barbell Rows
95 to 225 pounds
225 to 315 pounds
95 to 165 pounds
165 to 225 pounds
The Revealing of the Magic Secret
So here it is:
The reason you’re not making gains is because you haven’t added enough core strength. You aren’t progressing fast enough, or possibly aren’t focusing on adding much weight to the bar at all. There’s a good change you’re working hard but your numbers are less than impressive. If this is the case you won’t be adding much muscle, no matter how well you do the things listed above.
If you find that all you’re lifts are listed in the first row, muscle gains will generally be minimal. Once you have progressed and find your lifts in the second row, this is where the real work begins. It’s only when you’re pushing closer and closer to the last row that you will find yourself on the path to quality gains.
Get Strong to Get Big?
Do you have to get Hercules strong to get big? No, but you will need to get a hell of a lot more stronger than you are now. A 245 pound squat, 355 pound deadlift and 215 pound bench is a good step forward, but certainly not strength levels that will force the body to add much muscle mass.
Now move these numbers to a 445 pound squat, 535 pound deadlift and 335 pound bench press and you should see a difference in the mirror.
Congratulations, and a Nudge Forward
Congratulations on the progress you’re made. It’s a good start. Now the nudge forward…time to get moving. Assess your program and figure out why you’re not adding weight. Make this your primary focus and set aside a lot of the nonsense that clogs up the lifting industry.
Focus on getting strong(er). That’s your mission, and the path that leads to your goals.
Good article. Too many people get fat instead of muscle gains because they simply do not push hard enough in the gym. Always lift more whether it's reps or weight on the bar.
This is why I am sort of using Prilepin's Principle to get the most out of my sessions. Getting up to 10 reps with 90% of 1RM will definitely make one stronger. The last 6+ months is the first time in several years of training that I've consistently looked to add weight to the bar. The change in my appearence in this relatively short time has been apparent. Went from fitting medium to barely fitting large shirts.
Also, I believe many trainees would find such heavy sessions rewarding and challenging and will cause them to be even more eager to hit the gym.
Great article BtB. Should be stickied somewhere.
I believe it was McCallum that said to start doing 20 rep squats and work up to 300 lbs as fast as you can. That's where the magic starts.
This is why Madcow was so valuable to me. It forced progression. Even though I'm moving up in smaller increments that the system calls for, I have still made more size and strength gains in the last 5 months than I have in the previous 2 years (since the noob gains).
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