10 Ways to Lose Muscle

By the way some guys train and eat, you'd sweat they were trying to lose muscle, not build it. But, hey, maybe that's what they want – and if you want to join them, go ahead. If your biceps are tearing your sleeves, and your dream is to look skinny and weak – you can do what they do. Or maybe you're doing it already and don't even realise it.

The thing is, building muscle and holding onto it takes unrelenting vigilance. Every day you must be on guard for the things that will undo the gains you made, or put you on that training purgatory called “plateau”. Don't know what those things are? The only way to find out for sure is by checkout out our list of the 10 worst workout mistakes – thing you do that sabotage your progress and cost you muscle.

Recognise a mistake as part of your daily routine? We also came up with nine quick and easy fixes you can use to correct these problems and net truly awesome gains.

1. You Don't Eat Enough (For Fear of Getting Fat)

Yes, extra calories can mean extra belly fat, but if you're lifting consistently and correctly, most of what you're taking in should be converted to muscle. The truth is your muscles will never grow without a surplus of calories. For a lean guy looking to put on muscle mass, 2,000 calories a day won't cut it. In fact, this kind of restricted diet is actually the ideal recipe for losing muscle tis- sue and sparing fat, as it causes the body to shift into starvation mode and shed calorie-consuming muscle. It also makes you store fat for emergency energy. And the less protein you eat, the less of a chance you give your muscles to recover after a workout.

2. You Amp Up Your Cardio

There are three ways that cardio typically cancels out muscle gains: doing it too often, doing it for too long, or doing it on an empty stomach. In general, daily cardio sessions simply burn too many cumulative calories to allow you the surplus you need for muscle mass, and the same can be said for sessions that last 45 minutes or more. Work out in the morning before breakfast and you only compound the problem. When you wake up, your body is already in a catabolic (muscle-burning) state, since a night's sleep-time spent without eating-empties your tank. Working out immediately just reinforces this condition and costs you intensity-whether on the treadmill or with the weights. The end result: You burn muscle as fuel in place of calories you should have consumed at breakfast.

3. Work to Exhaustion

If the biggest musclehead in the gym has taught us anything, it's that doing lots and lots of sets and reps to the point of total collapse (he can't even muster his signature grunt!) is the best way to build muscle. Never mind that he's a genetic freak and/or probably on steroids. More than 20 total sets per muscle group, or more than 15 reps per set, may leave your muscles swollen (hence the ego-enhancing “pump”), but it will be from inflammation, not actual muscle growth. Any weight that allows that much work is too light to cause sub- stantial growth, and you'll reap no lasting gains.

4. You Favour Body-Part Workouts

Breaking your training down into chest days, back days, and arm days over- works some muscles and neglects others. It's an old-school way to train-and it's incredibly outdated. Most guys still do it, and many make gains for a while, but their progress eventually comes to a halt, usually due to injuries. Body-part routines also prevent your biggest muscles from ever learning to work together in the kinds of coordinated effort you need to lift really heavy weights-another major avenue for fast growth.

5. You Shun Stretching

Boring? Definitely. But stretching has been shown to speed up recovery and increase a muscle's range of motion, making more room for muscle fibers to grow. Simply lifting weights will increase your risk for injury and se- verely limit your ability to move athletically-so no matter how big you are, you'll probably be picked last for teams.

6. You Only Eat Sporadically

It's true: Eating infrequently is nearly as bad as not eating at all. When you go more than three hours without food, your metabolism slows significantly.When that happens, every time you do get a meal, there's a good chance that a large percentage of it will be stored as fat. Why?Blame your body. Without food, it slips back into starvation mode and starts to think it needs to hold on to every calorie it can get.

7. You Rarely Alter Your Routine

Doing the exact same workout week after week will, at best, prevent new gains, and, at worst, lead to burnout. Failing to impose any new challenges on your muscles-such as by increasing the weight you use or the number of reps you perform-simply helps keep them the same size, whereas pushing yourself harder than you're accustomed to will actually spur new muscle and strength.

8. You Only Train What You See In the Mirror

Focusing your workouts on trophy muscles such as the pecs and biceps may be more fun, but it won't do much for your overall development. Since 70% of your body's total musculature is located in your legs and back, your main potential for muscle gains will remain untapped. Furthermore, this kind of trainingwill leave you with muscle imbalances that lead to injury-and that can keep you out of the gym permanently.

9. You Don't Drink Shakes

Chugging a protein-and-carb mixture after your workout starts the recovery process immediately, replenishing lost glycogen (your muscles' energy stores) and providing the nutrients your body requires to repair muscle and grow more of it. Skipping the shake and casually waiting an hour or more for your next meal is like ignoring a cry for help.

10. You Overdo It

Sleep is when muscle repair happens, so getting six or fewer hours of shut-eye a night limits your body's natural production of crucial muscle-building chemicals, such as growth hormone. Too much activity outside of your workouts, such as playing sports, all-night dance parties, and extra stress-all of which are permissible now and then, but dangerous in excess-also cut into muscle gains. And if you've been working out seven days a week, we've got another pleasant surprise for you: You'll lose muscle for sure. Such a high frequency won't allow for regeneration, and your efforts will be wasted. And no, it doesn't matter if you're training different muscle groups each day-you still have the same central nervous system, and it still gets tired of having to deal with major physical exertion every day.

9 Tricks to Gain Muscle, Fast…

1. Start reading food labels to get a sense of how many kilojoules you're already eating. Then add 2000 to that number and start eating that many kilojoules every day. Aim to take in about two grams of protein per kilo of body weight each day.

2. You can do up to two days per week of light jogging on the treadmill, but keep it to around 30 minutes per session. To lose fat while sparing muscle, you'd do even better to perform sprints intervals – for instance, running all-out for a minute and then backing off to a light jog for two minutes. Do this for 30 minutes, three times a week.

3. Do not more than 20 sets per muscle group – close to 12 is even better. Your reps should be between six and 12 per set for the most mucle growth, and your workouts should never last much longer than 45 minuts. In lieu of more volume, use heavier weights and move through each rep at a controlled speed. Your sets should last between 40 and 70 seconds – any less, and you're not tensing your muscles long enough to shock them into growth.

4. You'll get the best results from your workout by either training your whole body in a single workout or concentrating only on the upper body in one session and the lower body in another. There are advantages to each setup, but both are better than trying to work out muscle group in a single session.

Concentrate on lifts that involve lots of muscles at once, such as squats, deadlifts, presses, rows and pull-ups.

5. Stretching of any king (getting into a stretched position and holding it, or moving fluidly in and out of position), using a foam roller and getting massagegs will all help keep you flexible, prevent injury and improve recovery between workouts.

6. You should be wolfing down five to six small meals a day. As long as good-quality fuel keeps coming into your body – particularly protein and carbs – you'll have the calories to build muscle and the metabolism boost to lose fat.

7. Every four to six weeks, you need to alter some part of your routine to keep getting results, whether it's the number of reps you do, the amount of time you rest, the exercises you perform or any other training variable. Keep a journal of your workouts to record your progress.

8. The more muscle you involve – eitehr in one exercise or one training session – the greater the hormone release you'll get from your training, and that stimulates muscle growth all day long. Hitting each muscle group with roughly the same volume (such as five sets of rows after five sets of bench presses) will ensure balanced training, allowing you to grow quickly and safely, avoiding injuries and preserving flexibility.

9. Surround your workout with nutrition, starting with a high protein and carbohydrate meal about an hour beforehand. Mix up a protein shake that has a ratio of about two grams of carbs for every one gram of protein and sip that throughout your workout.

After finishing the drink make a new one and drink that quickly. Believe it or not whole foods are not the best option post workout – they take too long to digest.