Every off-season, many bodybuilders fall short of their goals. Why? You might ask. Below are some of the most common mistakes bodybuilders and weightlifters in general make during bulking / the off-season that hinder their gains. If you can avoid as many of these mistake as possible, you will be on your way to a productive off-season.
- Staying away from Carbohydrates
Carbohydrates are a very important part of the off season diet and a great energy source, if used properly throughout the day. Simple carbohydrates (i.e., fast digesting) are great to have post-workout because they spike your insulin level and drive the glycogen into your muscles. They also help to drive the amino acids from your protein shake, that you should have post-workout, with that simple carbohydrate to aid in protein synthesis (i.e., muscle building).
Complex carbohydrates provide a more prolonged energy source and are great to have for breakfast or later in the day. Examples of complex carbohydrates are oats, brown rice and sweet potatoes. Examples of simple carbohydrates are sugars, white bread and pasta.
- Not Enough Rest / Recovery Time
In the off-season, your major goal is to put on lean muscle mass. Many novice trainers don’t realize that you do all your growing outside the gym. Even some experienced lifters find it hard to stay away from the gym in the off season. They do everything right: eat clean, workout out hard, but forget to give their body’s enough rest and recovery time between workouts so gains are negligible. You break down the muscle tissue in the gym, given that you fuel your body with nutritious food. The final piece of the puzzle is time. You need to give your body time to recover.
Without adequate time to recover, you will break down already broken down muscle tissue caused by over training. There is a lot of debate over how long a muscle needs to rest/recover from a workout before you should work it out again. I am a big believer in 72 hours, or 3 days of recovery time. If the muscle still seems to be sore, give it another day of rest. The last thing you want to do is to injure yourself.
- No Cardio
This is a huge mistake that I see all the time and 99% of the time men fall victim to the no cardio approach in the off season. They justify it by saying “I don’t want to lose any size”. Well, I am here to tell you that three 30 minute cardio sessions a week will do wonders for your bulking phase. By incorporating a cardio routine into your workout program, your appetite will go through the roof, which will make it a lot easier to eat clean healthy food.
You also will improve your cardiovascular system, which is critical when lifting heavy. I have seen countless guys fail to reach their desired rep range because their cardiovascular system failed on them. They were strong enough to get those extra 2 reps but were too out of breath and had to rack the weight. Sooner or later you will start losing muscle if you don’t reach your desired rep range. If you want to put on that size start, then start doing some cardio.
- Not Eating Enough
First off, I have to say that women tend to fall victim to this mistake a lot more than men. The reason behind this is that women hate putting on weight and after looking so good on stage the last thing that they want to do is put on FAT. So they continue to eat like they are still dieting. The result is they don’t have the energy to make any new gains or improvements to their body and, in many cases, lose muscle mass. The off season is the time of year a person makes 95% of their improvements to their physique.
Without the energy and the fuel, via a surplus of healthy clean food, you can not make the improvements you need. Make sure that you are eating enough calories to enable you to make those improvements and show up better next time you step on stage. Though you might put on a little (note I said a little) body fat, the body fat will come off once you diet down for your next show.
- Not Eating Enough Healthy Clean Foods
What is the first thing you do after you step off the stage with all of your trophies (let’s be optimistic)? You go directly to your favorite restaurant, or fast food place, and EAT. Granted, it is fine to indulge in good food after the show is over. You earned it. However, don’t let a fast food frenzy spill into your off season diet. Now, above I talked about taking in enough calories so you can put on good size in the off season.
You might say ‘fast food and junk food are calorie dense so why not have them once or twice a day so I can bump up my overall calories?” While you want to have excess calories while bulking, the majority of those calories should be from clean healthy foods: lean cuts of meat, complex carbohydrates and healthy fats. The off season is the time to put on size but the majority of it should be muscle, not fat. A diet riddled with junk food will result in little muscle gain and plenty of fat storage. Clean it up and you beef it up!
[box style=”note”]Good Luck[/box]