Reasons You Might Be Losing Muscle
Muscles do more than allow us to move in an efficient manner. This organ gives us that enviable form in our bodies. It also helps save the joints by absorbing impact forces. Without muscles, vibrations and shock forces can reach the joints. This can lead to inflammation and joint tissue injury. If this happens, there’s a chance that our mobility will also be affected. For fitness enthusiasts, building muscles is also one of the ways to achieve a more ideal body weight. This can translate to a healthier body. There are certain things that can undermine the way we build muscles, unfortunately. Here are 8 reasons why you might be losing muscle instead of building it.
1. The Intensity of Training is Dismal at Best
If you want to build something, then you must be prepared to destroy the existing structure. This is the same thing with building muscles. You have to destroy some of the muscle fibers to stimulate the body to repair the damaged tissues. The body will then try to make the new muscle tissues stronger and bigger than ever before. As such, if you are performing your exercises by just executing the different actions, then you are losing muscles instead of building them.
The point here is to challenge yourself. You need to break down some of the muscle fibers so that your body will repair them. An important point to keep in mind is that the body will replace these with stronger and bigger muscles. This is the very essence of resistance or strength training. Just because you are following the motions of a given exercise doesn’t give you outright muscle growth.
It is crucial that you know whether you are pushing yourself to the hilt or not. You don’t have to be a science whiz to figure this out. For example, you can evaluate how easy or difficult it is for you to complete one set of several repetitions. If you’re able to complete one set without breaking a sweat, then you can say you are not pushing yourself hard enough. If you can hardly complete the last two reps of the set because you can already feel your muscles aching, then you can say you’ve given your all.
It is important to keep in mind that for muscles to grow, they have to be broken down first. This paves the way for their repair, restructure, and regrowth.
2. Not Eating the Correct Nutrients
A combination of simple and complex carbs is ideal as pre-workout nutrition. The simple carbs will give you the energy needed to perform the different exercises. Complex carbs, on the other hand, are great for longer-lasting energy. These carbs are important during the post-workout phase. They help supply the energy needed for tissue repair and muscle growth.
While simple sugars are related to obesity and insulin resistance, there are healthier versions you can choose from. It is critical to understand that your muscles will need an insulin spike to get the energy straight into the muscle cells. This is why sugars are important when building muscles. If your training objective is to lose weight, then sugars are a definite no-no.
Proteins are crucial when it comes to building muscles. Since proteins are more difficult to digest, it is important to choose one that your body can easily digest. Professional bodybuilders always go for whey protein. This protein preparation provides readily-available proteins, peptides, and amino acids. Even if you only work out for half an hour, you will already have a ready supply of proteins for tissue repair. Your post-workout protein nutrition will supply the growth requirements of your muscles. Make sure you carry your protein shaker handy.
If you don’t eat the right carbs and pre-workout proteins, then you will be losing muscles.
3. Not Observing Correct Post-Workout Nutrition
Everyone knows the value of post-workout nutrition. Proteins are mandatory macronutrients when it comes to the repair of tissues. These nutrients are also crucial in the continuing growth of muscles.
Right after working out, some of the tissues in the muscles get damaged. And since muscles are generally composed of proteins, repairing these tissues requires a substantial amount of this nutrient. Whenever the muscle tissues repair and grow themselves, they will need energy. The energy needed by muscles will have to come from the different foods that you eat right after working out. A more important factor is the readiness of the energy that muscle tissues need. Think of it this way. If it will take several hours before this energy is available to the cells, then there will be a commensurate delay in tissue repair and growth.
It is for this reason that post-workout nutrition should always comprise high-quality proteins and simple carbohydrates. Simple carbs provide the energy to jumpstart the repair and growth of muscles. Simple carbs can stimulate the release of insulin. This hormone is responsible for delivering glycogen to the muscles. Amino acids in proteins can then use the glycogen to repair damaged tissues and grow muscles.
So, if you’re losing muscles, then you are not observing the right post-workout nutrition.
4. Putting Too Much Focus on Cardio Exercises
Cardio or endurance exercises are also important, but not for building muscles. This type of exercise can help strengthen the cardiovascular system. It helps improve the ability of the heart to pump blood. An improvement in the circulation of blood can also help facilitate the faster delivery of glycogen and proteins to the cells of the muscles.
If strength training is for building muscles, cardio is for losing weight. Aerobic exercises speed up your metabolism. This burns more calories. This is why individuals who want to lose weight always perform cardio more than resistance training. Unfortunately, doing more cardio exercises than strength training exercises can make you lose muscles.
We already know that building muscles require energy. Since cardio is all about losing calories or energy, then we won’t have enough left to strength-train. More importantly, our damaged muscle tissues will not have the energy they need to repair and grow themselves. In simple terms, you will not grow muscles. Instead, you will lose them.
If you want to integrate cardio in your training, it is important to increase your calorie consumption. This is where simple and complex carbs can help. Alternatively, you can choose an activity that allows you to employ both cardio and strength training exercises. For example, you can integrate high-intensity interval training in your routine instead of low-intensity steady-state exercises.
5. Not Getting Enough Sleep
Most of us overlook the importance of sleep and rest in building muscles. We often equate this human “activity” to a period of “inactivity”. What we don’t recognize is that sleep is that period when the body is able to complete its repair processes.
Whenever we sleep at night, some parts of our brain remain active. Human growth hormone is released in substantial amounts at night. This hormone tells the body to repair and grow tissues including muscle tissues. Having a good post-workout meal of carbs and high-quality proteins is important. Proteins are crucial in the repair of damaged muscle tissues as well as their subsequent growth. Under the influence of human growth hormone, amino acids begin making cross-links with other molecules. Together, they form new cells and tissues to grow the muscles.
If you’re losing muscles even though you are committed to your training, then maybe it’s because you’re not getting enough sleep. Try to get enough sleep. Better still, sleep early. Human growth hormone is known to be especially active during the early parts of the evening. If you sleep late, then you may be missing on this important window.
6. Ignoring a Movement’s Eccentric Phase
Building muscle is all about contracting and relaxing the muscles against resistance. There are two types of contractions that are typical in strength training movements. In the concentric phase, the muscles shorten as you lift weights. When you lower the weights, the same muscles lengthen or return to their normal resting position. They call this phase eccentric.
One of the issues, why some first-time bodybuilders are losing muscles, is because they ignore the eccentric phase. This is especially true when lifting weights. They can feel their biceps contract as they lift the barbell. When it comes to lowering the barbell, they simply lower it as fast as they could.
Sports physiologists say that the eccentric phase can activate more muscle fibers compared to the concentric phase of the movement. As a matter of fact, it can resist up to 175% of the amount of load that the same muscle is able to lift during the concentric phase. As such, instead of relying on gravity to lower the barbell to its starting position, you can control its descent.
You can improve your eccentric movements by slowing down the return to the starting position. When performing squats, for example, you can increase the time it would need for you to rise up to a standing position. The point here is to lengthen the amount of time needed to return from a fully-contracted state to the starting position.
7. Not Using the Right Supplements
If you’re still losing muscle even though you’re eating the right nutrients, it’s time to consider supplements. These substances are not replacements for good nutrition. What they do is that they enhance the delivery of the nutrients in your food so you will be able to build more muscles.
Creatine is one of the more important supplements when it comes to building muscles. This substance plays a crucial role in the synthesis of adenosine triphosphate or ATP. This is an energy molecule needed by the body during activities that require sharp muscle contractions. It is also important in anaerobic exercises such as lifting weights. When added into your workout nutrition, you will be able to complete more resistance exercises. You can also increase the length of time that you spend with each exercise because you have the energy to do it. With an increase in the frequency and length of strength training exercises, you’re able to grow more muscles. Adding 20 grams every day for the first 7 days of your training helps. This can then be reduced to 5 grams every day.
Branched-chain amino acids are also important among bodybuilders. These amino acids are crucial for speeding up the repair of damaged muscle tissues. They can also help hasten the recovery process so you can get straight back to training. Branched-chain amino acids are also known for minimizing the incidence of sore muscles. It can also lessen the severity of muscle tissue damage. Leucine, a type of BCAA, is famous for its ability to suppress the degradation of proteins. It also helps promote a more efficient synthesis of proteins.
Other supplements that can help you build muscles include caffeine, nitric oxide, citrulline malate, glutamine, whey protein, and fish oils.
8. Not Enough Testosterone
When it comes to building muscles, no other hormone is more crucial than testosterone. This is a hormone that promotes muscle growth. It tells the different components of muscles to begin organizing themselves to grow stronger and bigger muscle tissues.
Ensuring you have adequate testosterone levels means you need to watch your diet. Since testosterone is made up of cholesterol as a base molecule, you need to incorporate this in your diet. You should be mindful of what type of cholesterol you are eating. It’s best to get fats that are rich in good cholesterol.
Performing compound movements that involve large muscle groups can also increase testosterone levels. It is possible your testosterone levels are not enough because you are doing your training the wrong way. Not having enough sleep can also put a dent on your testosterone levels. And since we’ve been talking about nutrition, including foods that are rich in vitamin B6, vitamin D, magnesium, and zinc can also help.
Of course, supplementing with testosterone preparations can also improve the levels of this hormone in your body.
If you’re not building muscles, then it is possible you’re guilty of any one of these 8 reasons. Make sure to make the necessary adjustments if you don’t want to lose muscles.
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