Top Diet and Exercise Mistakes
Not eating enough calories. If you restrict too many calories your metabolism will slow down, you will derail your progress and eventually gain back the weight you lost and possibly more.
Your diet doesn’t include enough healthy foods. While you want to have excess calories in your diet while bulking, the majority of those calories should be from clean healthy foods: complex carbohydrates , lean protein-rich foods and healthy fats. The off-season is the time to put on size but the majority of it should be muscle, not fat.
Skipping meals. Your body needs protein every 3 hours for your muscles to have a steady stream of available amino acids. You need to keep your body in a positive nitrogen balance. When your body doesn't have enough amino acids, it goes to your muscles to find them. Your body will begin to eat away at your hard-earned muscle for fuel. This is referred to as a catabolic state (i.e., muscle wasting). You want to be in a positive nitrogen balance as much as possible, which is referred to as the anabolic state (i.e. muscle gaining).
Staying away from carbohydrates in your diet. Carbohydrates are a very important part of the off-season diet and a great energy source. Simple carbohydrates are great to have post-workout because they spike your insulin level and drive the glycogen into your muscles. Simple carbohydrates also help to drive the amino acids from your protein shake, you have post-workout, to aid in muscle building. Complex carbohydrates provide a more prolonged energy source and are great to have for breakfast or later in the day.
Worrying about the scale. Worrying about the scale has caused a lot of men to put on fat in the off-season. Men love stating how much they weigh. So in their pursuit to put on as much weight as possible, they end up putting on a substantial amount of body fat. Your body cannot continue to add pounds of lean muscle mass each week, so if your weight continues to increase every week, you are probably putting on too much body fat. Women are the complete opposite once they see their weight go up; they either stop eating as much or do a lot of cardio. This practice will make it extremely difficult to make any off-season improvements.
Lacking a diet and exercise goal. In the beginning of the off-season, make some short and long term goals for yourself; this will help keep you focused on the improvements that you need to make. If you have a personal trainer, sit down with him or her and discuss how you are going to approach the off-season and make improvements to your physique.
Too much cardio. Your body cannot make improvements in muscle size and shape if you are exercising and expending too much energy with cardio. Most people should stick to a moderate cardio exercise program like 3-4 low intensity 20-30 minute sessions a week. This will keep both your metabolism humming and your appetite up, and most importantly you will be working the heart.
No cardio exercise: Three 30 minute cardio exercise 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.
Too much machine use. Exercise machines do have benefits, when used properly and are great to supplement your program. But nothing works better than free weight basics. Free weight basics, with barbells and dumbbells, like squats, deadlifts, rows, bench etc., should be the bread and butter of all of your off-season workouts. They recruit the most muscle fiber use which will lead to maximum growth and improvement.
Not enough rest/recovery time. In the off-season, the major goal is to put on lean muscle mass. You break down the muscle tissue in the gym, now 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 overtraining. Muscle needs to rest/recover 72 hours from a workout before you should work it out again.
Off-Season Diet and Exercise Bottom Line
The off-season is a time to make improvements to your physique. Use this time as productively as possible by avoiding these mistakes. If you find yourself falling into any of these off-season pitfalls, then make a quick correction in your diet and/or workout programs. If you can do this, you will be well on your way to adding well earned inches to your physique.