If you are just beginning training, it will likely seem that you can do no wrong – anything you do will motivate your muscles to grow.
Enjoy this time.
Unfortunately, as you continue to train, your body will be less easily impressed and it will likely start to confuse and frustrate you with its lack of response.
To keep the gains coming you will have to make adjustments.
If your muscle gains slow… is it diet, weight training, or other factors that need to be adjusted?
How do you know what to do? Well, honestly, if you are like the majority of trainers, you’d just make an absolute guess.
There is, however, a way to turn that absolute guess into an educated guess.
The Two Tools Necessary For Smart, Muscle-Producing Adjustments
The only tools you have to identify and create solutions for your program’s problems will be your knowledge and your bodybuilding tracking program.
1) Knowledge comes from getting a clear view of how factors can affect your weight training program –The ability to answer questions like the following…
- What does protein do in the body?
- How and when do muscles grow?
- What is overtraining and how can it affect you?
- What can creatine do to help your training?
The answers to these and related questions can come from this site and other bodybuilding resources. The more you know, the better you will be able to problem solve.
2) A good tracking program combined with this knowledge will put you way ahead in the game. You will quickly identify potential stumbling blocks and be able to intelligently begin working on solutions. These solutions won’t always be obvious but with a good tracking program you will be able to efficiently narrow down the possibilities and have a better chance to keep the muscle gains coming.
Most Trainers Don’t Track Anything Other Than Weight… And Pay a Big Price
Evidence of the above fact routinely appears in my in-box…
“I have gained 12 pounds. The only difference I have found is that my pants are tighter. Do you think it is all fat that I have gained?”
“I have gained 10 pounds and my bench press has increased by 40 pounds. However, it doesn’t seem that my chest is more muscular. Should I increase my chest work?”
“Even though I keep gaining weight, my biceps still look the same. What should I do?”
In the three cases above, the only good advice that can be given is to TRACK. These people have set themselves up to be unnecessarily bewildered. Any adjustments they make will be shots in the dark.
Tracking would provide clear answers to all the above questions. Muscle gains aren’t always easily spotted in the mirror. If you aren’t tracking you are flying blind when it comes to adjustments.
You could be killing a perfectly good program because you mistakenly thought you were getting a huge belly when all you were really noticing was your stomach stretching a bit to handle your increased diet. You could be increasing chest or biceps work when your current schedule is producing optimal muscle gains – you just didn’t realize it.
Five Common Program-Busting Problems and Their Simple Solutions (Simple With Good Tracking)
Below are a some common problems that can occur and some potential solutions to give you an example of how valuable a good bodybuilding tracking program can be and how you can use it to keep you moving towards your goals.
Problem #1: Lean Body Mass calculations show that weight gains are coming more from additional body fat than muscle gains.
Possible Solutions: Decrease caloric intake, increase protein consumption, increase meal frequency and/or increase sleep time.
Problem #2: All body tape measurements show growth except the calve measurements.
Possible Solutions: Change calf training either by increasing or decreasing training amounts or intensity, change calf training methods.
Problem #3: Despite increasing calories, weight and muscle gains are not occurring.
Possible Solutions: Increase calories, change macro-nutrient ratios, change types of food being consumed (try backing off MRPs and eating more whole foods), decrease aerobic exercise.
Problem #4: Creatine cycle is not producing as impressive results as a previous cycle did.
Possible Solutions: Check tracking program history and note all factors present in previous productive cycle – brand, dosage, weight training, etc. Adjust current cycle to be more like previous success.
Problem #5: Quite suddenly, huge muscle gains seem to be coming easily.
Possible Solutions: This is obviously not a problem but you should be writing everything you are doing down so you will know not to change a thing until the muscle gains slow and so you will have the information for future reference.
Now, consider where you would be without a good fitness tracking program…
- With Problem #1, you would be unaware that the weight you were gaining was actually body fat (at least until you could no longer fit into your jeans).
- With Problem #2, you wouldn’t be able to identify the non-response from your calves as soon and therefore you would keep wasting time doing what wasn’t working.
- With Problem #3, without an accurate accounting of exactly what you were eating you would not be able to plan a new and more productive weight gain diet as quickly.
- With Problem #4, you would not have an accurate record of your successful creatine cycle for reference.
- With Problem #5, the lack of a bodybuilding tracking program would leave you without a record to analyze the factors that were contributing to your amazing muscle gains.
Maintaining a good fitness tracking program shouldn’t be a laborious affair. It should take only five to ten minutes a day and it can really pay off big time. It will provide invaluable information, much more important information than the any studies or research you may see because it will be a record of how your unique body reacts to all the various stimuli you will throw at it over the years.
What are all the things that are important to track?
Flip back to the Tracking Your Bodybuilding Training Program page to review all the things that can provide you valuable information as you move along in your weight gain program.
At first glance it may seem a lot and it first it will seem a hassle but a couple of months down the road, you’ll be extremely glad you took the time. You’ll have the information you need to insure your muscle gains are never just a fluke.
And if you don’t do it? A couple of months down the road you’ll be kicking yourself.
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