How many times have you read something along the lines of:
- “Re-ignite your muscle gains with these 5 easy steps!”
- “This workout system is guaranteed to re-ignite your muscle building!”
…and so on, and so forth.
The obvious question becomes: is it possible to “re-ignite” muscle gains? Let’s take a look.
“Re-Igniting” Muscle Gains
When it comes to folks who are no longer building muscle, they fall into 2 categories:
- Lifters who have spent years building muscle mass, and now find that gains are coming very slowly. Something seems wrong.
- Lifters who haven’t unlocked the magic, and have yet to build any substantial amount of muscle mass.
Let’s address the second group first – those who haven’t made any progress. These lifters don’t need to re-ignite gains, they are seeking to ignite gains in the first place. Sounds like I am splitting hairs here, but I am not. If you don’t know what you are doing in the first place, then you haven’t experienced a slowing of the process.
These types of lifters don’t need special programs or magical secrets. The need the basics, which include:
- Consistency – Hitting the gym on a regular basis, not missing many workouts.
- Progressive Overload – The addition of resistance over time. Simply stated, you need to get a lot stronger than you are now.
- Food – An eating plan that matches your goals.
- Tools – A quality exercise selection filled with plenty of compound exercises.
The second group includes lifters who have already built plenty of muscle and strength. They know how to train, but have experienced a slowing of gains. Most of these guys are wondering what the heck is wrong, and exactly what is needed to get back on track and growing again.
If this is you, here’s what you need to know…nothing is wrong. Yes, you read that correctly, and no, I am not a lunatic.
Unless you are an enhanced bodybuilder (using steroids, HGH, etc.) then gains will slow over time. This is a physiological fact of life.
Natural testosterone levels regulate the ability of the human body to synthesize protein. Simply stated, muscle cells are only going to get so big naturally. On the other hand, if you take steroids, you are enhancing the body’s protein synthesis ability, and can grow much larger. Gains remain more prolonged and don’t slow quite as quickly.
Some of you won’t believe that a natural bodybuilder can only get so big, but that is a topic for another article. Assuming that you understand and accept this physiological reality, then let’s move on. If you don’t, please feel free to leave a hater comment below, and come back in 5 years after you have made no more gains and apologize because I was correct.
So if this is you, and gains have slowed – fear not. You are not doing anything inherently wrong. Stay the course, and understand that you will no longer be able to gain 5 to 10 pounds of muscle per year. It is more likely that you will be scraping out ounces and pounds.
Muscle Building Moving Forward
Should you use a special program and attempt to re-ignite gains. You certainly can try, but odds are it won’t make much of a difference. Folks that push the concept of “re-ignition” generally have no clue that gains naturally slow over time, and often dedicate their lives to constructing muscle building systems that will assist other lifters continue to make gains.
While this is a noble cause, it’s generally a fruitless cause. These workouts can certainly be fun, and are generally well-constructed, but they can in no way alter physical reality and help you get as big as a steroid-using bodybuilder without the steroids.
I certainly don’t want you to stop trying to build muscle. No one knows how far along you are naturally. On the other hand I also don’t want you to panic.
Take time every couple of months and measure your arm, leg and chest size. Monitor yearly changes. By taking data, it becomes easier to see if progress is actually being made. Most times when progress slows it seems like we are making no gains at all.
Numbers never lie.