What’s up, guys? Jeff Cavalier, Athlean-X.com. Today I’m dishing out the truth to the reasons why you might not be building muscle. I think I’m more qualified here to speak about this topic than anybody because I lived that. I lived those problems, I’ve had those same struggles. I couldn’t build muscle. This was actually me. You guys have asked to see what I looked like. This is me. I dug up some old footage the other day.
I was looking through some old home movies. That’s me, in high school. Painfully thin, unable to put on muscle. Things have changed for me though, because I’ve learned from a lot of my mistakes. I think if I can talk about some of those mistakes then you might be able to avoid them, too. The very first thing that I learned quickly, early on was that I was overtraining. Overtraining, I’ve talked about in many videos before.
It’s a very real thing and a very real thing that sets up a roadblock for many guys that consider themselves to be hard gainers, or just unable to add muscle. You see, we always think that more is better. We’ve been conditioned in this society to think that more is better. When it comes to training, more is not better.
More is not better. Only the right amount of the right type of training is better. As soon as you start going down that path you become even more likely to continue to go down that path because you try more and that doesn’t work. So what do you do? You do even more, and then you do even more. Before you know it you’re doing 55 sets for chest alone and your chest looks like shit. So you want to try to follow and find the fastest way for you to cut back on what you’re doing. If you’re going to train – this is a very important point, this video encapsulates what we’re all about here at Athlean-X. If you’re going to be a drug free, unassisted lifter then you’d better find ways to enhance your recovery.
Most of us are not able to. Without the assistance of drugs, we’re unable to recover nearly fast enough to allow ourselves to go back to that gym to do another 55 sets, and another 55 sets and we wind up hitting a wall. It’s a very real wall. Don’t let anybody tell you differently. There is a wall that you hit hormonally, neurologically. You can’t train. You can’t even bring the effort that you need to produce the gains that you’re trying to see. That leads me to my next point. Guess what most people do wrong when they’re trying to build muscle?
You may be shocked when is ay this; you’re undertraining. How can you be undertraining and overtraining? Because undertraining is when you show up at the gym thinking that just by walking into the gym and gracing everyone with your presence, swiping your gym card, grabbing your protein shake and then heading over the leg extension machine that you’re going to build muscle.
If you head to a gym and your goal is to count reps, count to 12 over and over and over again I could save you a trip. You could have stayed home and counted with Sesame Street as opposed to going to the gym and wasting gas if that’s all you’re going to do. The numbers that you’re doing in the gym, the reps that you’re counting don’t mean shit. If you want to build muscle, the only thing that ever matters is the intensity that you’re bringing to those numbers.
If you’re at 12 and it seems like you’re trying to lift a house on the 12th rep and you’ve got nobody around to help you, that’s a good effort. If you’re at 12 and you’re doing this and you’re looking around and you’re putting the weights down and waiting, you go back and can do it again and you’re looking forward to the next set, you go down and you’re looking forward to the next set just because it’s sooner for you to get out of the gym; you’re not training with nearly the intensity that you need to make changes.
So how do you manipulate the two? How do you manage the two? It’s actually kind of easy. As I say all the time; you can either train hard, or you can train long, but you can’t do both. If you’re at the gym doing 2 and 3 hour marathon workouts there’s only two things going on. You’re either assisted – using steroids that you shouldn’t be – or your half-assing it. There’s only one or the other. You can’t do it any other way.
If you bring that high level of intensity to what you do, and that high level of focus to what you do and you’re not spread so thin doing a whole bunch of everything, doing none of it really well; you’ll find that you’ll get an extremely intense workout and an extremely effective workout in about 45 minutes or so. Maybe an hour tops, and you’re out. You’re out. You’re able to recover and allow your body the opportunity that it gets to recover to build and allow you to build back and come back stronger. That’s how you want to manage those two extremes.
Next up: people tend to avoid the hard exercises. Again, I’m guilty of it. I avoided the hard ones. You know the hard ones; we all know the hard ones. The ones where it’s like the impending doom of the bar that creates a threat to you and your comfort level in the gym. Bench pressing.
The treat that the bar could come down on your chest. There’s a pending doom. You’re threatened by the security of exercise. Squats, dead lifts; who wants to get down there and try to lift that. You know how hard it is to lift the bar out of that position? That’s why it’s called a “dead lift”. No momentum. You’ve got to get that bar off the ground. Those are the exercises that tend to deliver the most bang for their buck though.
If you want to build muscle, you’d better build your foundation of strength and build it with those key foundational exercises with those scary exercises, with those intimidating exercises. You don’t have to jump in and do what everybody else is doing. Just because I see everybody else benching 300-400 pounds, or squatting 400 pounds or whatever it might be, that doesn’t mean that I have to start there. We all start somewhere.
We all start at the bottom. No matter who you are, you start somewhere and you build from there. That’s what makes us great as humans. We can develop ourselves to become – the capacity is endless to what we can become. But it starts somewhere; usually down toward the bottom.
You build your foundation learning how to do those exercises properly and then you add from there. You don’t shy away just because they seem hard and they seem intimidating because they’re going to be intimidating, but they’re going to hold the biggest benefits. Just by doing those exercises doesn’t mean that you’re accomplishing everything that you need to accomplish. A big mistake is thinking “Okay, I did the exercises.
Now what?” Well, how’d you do them? What was the purpose? What was the purpose of your training? If you’re trying to go for hypertrophy, maybe a power clean is not the best way to go. Power clean is great if you’re trying to be explosive and build top level explosive strength as an athlete, but it’s not a great hypertrophy exercise. There’s no real eccentric portion of the lift. Not a controlled eccentric targeting any one muscle group. Even though the eccentric is there it’s a very quick eccentric. There’s other ways I could do that.
I could do really slow eccentric shoulder raises if I want to build my deltoids. Again, different purpose, different time, different exercise, different application. People will take power lifts and they’ll be doing them from high reps. Why? What’s the purpose of that? Don’t misapply the exercises that you’re using, but don’t shy away from those that are the most intimidating or the most scary to you because they often hold the key to your most growth. Nutritionally we all make mistakes. I made plenty of mistakes. I was the biggest junk food eater.
I’ve talked about that so many times. The biggest junk food eater on the planet. No doubt, I know there’s no – I own stock in Entenmann’s just because of how much I ate of their stuff every morning, and afternoon, and when I got home from school. I wasn’t building muscle. I was that painfully skinny guy.
How the hell could that happen? Blessed with a fast metabolism? Maybe. But why couldn’t I build muscle? Because even though I was over nourishing in terms of the amount of calories I was taking in I was under nourishing my muscles. That’s all that matters. I was not providing the nutrients that my muscles needed as a substrate for growth. You see, it’s a very important difference. If you don’t provide yourself with the right type of calories, calories alone will not help you to build muscle. Think about every skinny guy you know who eats a ton of food and just can’t do anything.
I can tell you, the fastest way to fix him. The fastest way to fix him is to tell him to stop worrying about all the shit that he’s eating and start focusing on eating the right stuff. If he starts to eat the right stuff I bet you his muscle growth soars over the next year because for the first time in his life he’s finally providing his muscles with the fuel it actually needs to grow. It’s like trying to grow a lawn with the worst grade fertilizer and seed versus high grade fertilizer and seed. There’s a reason why there’s a difference in price because one of them is – it’s the “shit in, shit out” concept. One of them is not going to grow you a good lawn, the other one is.
You could put a whole ton of that crap seed down and it’s not going to do anything. You put the right amount of the good stuff down and it will. On the flip side of the coin, when you do clean up your diet one thing you’ll want to be aware of – and a big piece of advice here – is make sure when you make your substitutions, think about what you took out and what you’re putting back in. you’re taking out a lot of calorie dense, nutrient thin food. That’s what you’re getting with Entenmann’s. Calorie dense, fat laden – you’re getting rid of all those.
By doing that you’re losing a lot of calories. What you might find is, when you replace it with the more nutrient dense you’re going to have a lot fewer calories going back in. the nutrient dense foods are, by nature a lot of times, much more lower in calories. So you’ll find that you’ll struggle to put on size because you’re undereating. The first think you’ll want to do is: don’t throw up your hands and say “Sorry. This way of eating doesn’t work, Jeff. You told me and it didn’t work.” No. Now you want to start making sure that you’re eating more at every single meal.
Every opportunity that you can, you’re trying to drive more of that nutrient dense food into your body so you can increase the calories to be able to get to that level that your muscles need to be able to help you to grow. Get enough protein, make sure you’re following a strategy to get you there.
One of the strategies I use all the time is supplementation because for me, the liquid intake of those extra calories, those extra high quality calories, those extra proteins that I need; that makes it so much easier for me to take it in and around my solid meals throughout the day, and number two: it allows me to be very, very consistent. Consistency with nutrition is key. You can’t make a change today, follow it for one day and think that you’re going to start building tons of muscle just because you ate well one day.
You’ve got to make sure that you apply yourself. This is a long term approach. You want to start eating right, and eating right for a lifetime. You can do it if you identify foods that you like and then have a strategy from being consistent with it. Supplementation often comes in here in a very valuable way to allow you to get that stuff in without really feeling like you’re eating so much throughout the day.
So, tying a bow around all this, this is what Athlean-X is all about. It’s what it’s all about. Let’s pursue the best you that you can be, drug free. Let’s pursue what you do in the gym with a purpose. Don’t just show up. Don’t think you’re making me happy because you walked through those gym doors.
You make me happy when you walk through those doors and you lay your ass on the line and you put everything you’ve got into that workout and then you get out of there and allow your body to recover. Stop having a fear of those hard exercises. Those hard exercises are the things that you fear the most and the things that will change you the most. I’ve had that very same fear. Build up your ability to perform those exercises safely.
Don’t just go and jump in and do what everyone else is doing because they’re lifting a lot of weight on those and you know you should be lifting a lot of weight on those. You build your strength by starting at the bottom and you work your way up. I show you how to do that in all of our programs.
I show you how to jump in at any level that you’re at right now and push yourself to that next level. Don’t misuse the exercises. Don’t do what everybody else is doing because everybody is doing it. You do it because it makes sense for where you are in your program. You do it because it makes sense for what you’re trying to do at that very moment in your program. When it comes to nutrition don’t think that it’s unimportant.
That “Oh, I’m just a hard gainer. I won’t be able to put on muscle because I just have a fast metabolism.” I’ve seen the hardest gainers put on muscle when they approached their nutrition right. So stop focusing on just eating calories. Start focusing on getting the right kind of calories. Get nutrient dense foods into your diet. Then from there, adjust if you have to. Increase the amount that you’re eating at each and every opportunity. Add supplementation if that allows you to be more consistent, but there’s a fact of the matter here, guys.
There’s no shortcut around this. It pisses me off when I hear about shortcuts. You guys know that’s a soft spot for me. There’s no substitution for being serious about what you do. Take your workouts and your nutrition seriously. I guarantee you’ll get serious results. If you are looking for a way to get serious results, guys; I’m more than happy to deliver you the workouts, nutrition plans, step by step everything you have to do.
You’re just not going to get it sugar coated from me. I’m going to tell you everything you’ve got to do and you’re going to do it. I can’t come there and lift the weights for you. I sure as hell can’t come there and eat the foods for you. You’ve got to do it the right way, you’ve got to follow it with an intent to change your life because you will. Guess what? Things change in your entire life when you get this thing right. You know how you feel if you feel like you can’t build muscle. You feel like you’re skinnier than everybody else, you feel – I was there.
I know how it felt. I showed you the picture before. I wasn’t really comfortable there. I was a little bit insecure. You know how much it changes your life to where I can get on here and deliver messages like this to you and have the confidence to be able to deliver messages to you and hopefully change everybody else’s life so they don’t have to go through what I went through.
If you’re ready to do that, guys, I’m more than ready to take you by the hand and do that for you. Head to AthleanX.com right now and come on board. Join team Athlean. If you found this video helpful, an eye opener, a little bit of a kick in the ass; fine. Any of them will apply.
Just let me know below by giving me a comment and telling me what else you want to see; what other problems I could help you to solve because I’m more than happy to do that, guys. This is why I started this channel. That’s why I continue to do this channel each and every week. All right, guys. I’ll be back here again very soon. See ya.