You finally tamed your schedule and ginned up enough discipline to be hitting the gym 5-6 days a week. You’ve burned a lot of calories, lost a shirt size or two, and feel so much better. Still, there you have that one nagging concern...
“Where are the muscles?” you’ve been asking yourself. “There were supposed to be muscles...”
Assuming you have been weight training and not just hitting the treadmill and elliptical, you should start seeing some muscle growth in two to six weeks. If you don’t, here are a few recommendations to take your training to the next level, because you are working too hard in the gym to have nothing to show for it!
Go easy on the booze and beers. Your body calls upon antioxidants when it adds muscle mass, but there are fewer to call upon when your system is using them to metabolize all that alcohol.
Get some more sleep. Muscles need sleep. More specifically, they need glycogen, and the less sleep you get the more cortisol your body releases. Cortisol is a stress hormone, and inhibits your system from storing glycogen properly. Plus, if you are not getting enough sleep, you aren’t training as hard as you could be after a good seven or eight hours of shut-eye.
Drink more water. Water is required to transport nutrients to your cells. If your system is dehydrated, your muscles don’t get the electrolytes they crave and need to grow. And like sleep, if you are not getting enough water, you’re really not training as effectively as you may think you are.
Don’t overdo it. A common newbie bodybuilder misconception is that there is no such thing as over-training. In fact, there is: you need to work rest days into your training schedule with the same determination as you schedule workouts. Not only will over-training cause your body to release more cortisol, you will actually produce less testosterone.
Eat more protein. Your muscles grow as the tears you create in them mend after you work out. To build and repair muscle, your body needs amino acids, and the best source for these is protein. A 200-pound man should be consuming between 109 and 154 grams of it daily, so you can't rely solely on your “power shakes.” Dig into some chicken, red meat and eggs regularly; or peanut butter, Ezekiel bread, lentils and tofu if you are vegan.
Chill out. Stress boosts your cortisol levels considerably.
Sources: Mens' Fitness