Three Ways to Ruin Your Muscle Gains in 2016

Three Ways to Ruin Your Muscle Gains in 2016

The New Year has officially begun and it's a whole new year to get bigger, stronger, leaner, and healthier than ever before. I love the prospect of starting training with a clean slate and new goals in training to accomplish. There is something to be said about the saying goodbye to the holidays that allows you to refocus on your training after a whole season of family reunions and holiday parties.

Related: 3 Strategies for Training in a Crowded Gym After New Year's

Suddenly there is once again free time to focus on your workouts without having to shift things around a holiday schedule. However, even with the conclusion of the holidays and the availability of time to work out, there are plenty of ways to ruin your muscle gains.

Here are the top three.
Poor Nutrition

How to Ruin Your Workouts in 2016

#1 - Poor Nutrition

We all have different reasons for working out whether it's getting stronger, leaner, bigger or healthier. It should go without saying that your nutrition will play a huge role in your performance during each individual workout and in the overall outcome of your next year of training.

During the holidays we tend to develop poor nutrition habits that are hard to break once it's time to get back into a normal routine. it's okay to enjoy yourself during the holidays, in fact, everyone should take some time away from the gym and strict eating plans to enjoy time with friends and family and enjoy delicious but less than optimal foods but, only for a time.

That time has ended. it's time to tighten things up a bit and get back to work. Make sure that you are supplying your body with the nutrients that it needs to support muscle gains and your renewed training intensity.

You know what to do. First, get your calories in check, are you trying to lose fat or gain muscle? Then get your macros in check, what type of training you are performing and your body type will influence your macro ratios(if your not sure start with 40% carbs, 30% Protein, and 30% Fat). Increase your water intake, you should shoot for about a gallon of water a day. Finally, eat some dang vegetables to stay healthy.

Get your nutrition in check to stay healthy and energized during your training no matter what your goals are.

#2 - Poor Sleep

PillowsThat's right poor sleep will ruin your workouts and bring progress to a screeching halt. Did your bedtime gradually become later and later during the holidays? A lot of people travel across times zones to visit family and stay up late during at various parties and reunions which disrupts regular sleep patterns and can through your body off its game.

Lack of sleep can cause low testosterone and growth hormone which will make working out difficult to recover from. It can also cause depression which can zap any motivation that you have to do anything especially work out. In addition, lack of sleep also causes insane sugar cravings that are tough to overcome because a tired brain is constantly demanding more sugar (your brain runs exclusively on blood sugar).

don't sabotage your workouts and muscle gains by skimping on sleep. I like the analogy that Robert Bobby Maximus MacDonald, the General Manager of Gym Jones, uses when it comes to sleep. Imagine that your body is your cell phone and your bed is the charger. If you don't charge your cell phone every day it becomes a paperweight by noon, the same thing occurs to your body when you don't get adequate sleep.

Shoot for the eight or more hours a night on a regular schedule every evening. If you have trouble sleeping, try increasing your sleep hygiene by turning off all electronics and dimming the lights in your house the hour before bedtime. Additionally, make sure that your bed is only for sleep and sex. Camping out on your bed binge-watching the Walking Dead is NOT good sleep hygiene. Keep your room cool, dark and quiet and, if you can, wake up to light instead of noise.

#3 - Poor Management of Intensity During Training

This concept sounds complicated but it's actually quite simple. Most people out there think that you have to kill yourself every time that you step through the door of the gym to get results. This mentality just isn't true and has been popularized by the media with catchy sayings like your workout is my warm-up and if you didn't puke or pass out, you didn't push hard enough.

While there are seasons for intense training where you will push yourself to the limit in the gym, there also have to be seasons where you maintain. If you keep pushing yourself to the limit every day in the gym you will eventually hit a wall and progress will stop or you will hurt yourself.

Learn to manage your intensity by organizing your training so that you have these intense periods of training interspersed with periods of maintenance or rest. This will keep you healthy and progressing much longer than killing yourself all the time until you want to quit or break.

There are many ways that you can accomplish this, the easiest is to find a plan that organizes your training for you. Brian McFadden has a great 16-week program here at Or you can organize your year into blocks with different goals and find individual programs that fit those goals and follow them for their specified amounts of time.

For example, during October through December, you want to take advantage of all the increased calories you are eating during the holidays and pack on some muscle so you would find a program that focuses on muscle building and place it there. Then, say you want to start getting ready for beach season or spring break and want to give yourself eight weeks to lean out.

Find a program. Once have those programs in place look at how much time you have in between and that is your time to downshift a bit and recover and maintain your gains. Find a program that meets your requirements and follows it.

Reach Your Goals in 2016

While there are many ways to ruin your workout, these three are up there at the top.

Bad nutrition. You can't escape a poor diet it's basic and simple but, difficult follow.

Not enough sleep. Getting proper sleep is way underrated and to put things simply if you want more gains in the gym, start by making more time to sleep so your body can rest and regenerate. This will support your effort in the gym more than you think. Trust me.

Poor management of your training intensity. Running yourself into the ground daily will only get you so far with your training. Train smart as well as hard and give yourself seasons where your train all out and follow them up with seasons where you maintain and rest.

Best of wishes on your training in 2016, make this year your best year in transforming yourself into a stronger, healthier you.
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