After switching up your diet and workout routine, you finally started to pack on some solid muscle—and people were noticing. Then the progress halted. Despite your continued efforts, your shoulders seemed to shrink, your biceps became less buldging, and your quads refused to grow any bigger. What gives?
A number of factors influence your body’s ability to pack on gains—your sleep schedule, your diet, your fitness program, even your state of mind. You could seriously go crazy trying to figure out what went wrong. To help you get to the bottom of things, we checked in with Jim White, personal trainer and registered dietitian, and Jay Cardiello, celebrity personal trainer and star of ABC’s My Diet is Better than Yours. Adjust your program with their tips and you’ll be back to building that jacked physique you crave in no time.
1. You skimp on sleep
Plain and simple: If you’re not getting quality sleep each night, your muscles won’t grow. “Lack of sleep increases your body’s level of cortisol (a stress hormone), wreaks havoc on your body’s human growth hormone, and inhibits your body from properly storing glycogen—all things that can have a negative impact on muscle growth,” Cardiello says. “Plus, if you’re not sleeping, then you’re not training at 100 percent and you’re not improving.”
The fix: Cardiello suggests aiming for seven and a half hours of shut-eye each evening. He also advises keeping stress levels low before hitting the sheets. That means shutting down all electronics at least 30 minutes before bed. If you typically have trouble dozing off, you might want to consider taking a hot bath or shower before bed.