If you’re hitting the weight room hard but you’re starting to lose muscle, it probably has something to do with what you’re doing outside the gym. There are a few things that can cause your muscles to become less defined, no matter how many sets of deadlifts and chest presses you put in. Here are six mistakes to avoid when you’re trying to bulk up.
POPPING ADVIL LIKE CRAZY
You might think taking that taking ibuprofen can decrease muscle soreness and help get you through your next workout. But taking anti-inflammatories like ibuprofen too often or in too high a dosage can interfere with muscle development and strength. Taking just 1,200 mg doses a day for a few weeks could potentially have some dramatic effects.
“Anti-inflammatory medications, like Advil, are often used to relieve delayed onset muscle soreness (DOMS),” says personal trainer Marissa West. But a little bit of natural inflammation that comes from working those muscles can actually help with building protein and speeding recovery. “NSAIDs overuse can interfere with prostanoid production, which aids in the muscle building process,” she explains.
If you’re injured, too, be especially careful about how long to keep taking ibuprofen. “Unfortunately, with any exercise program, injuries can happen. Injuries such as plantar fasciitis can cause muscle loss from disuse,” says West.
NOT EATING ENOUGH FISH
If you’re low in omega-3 fatty acids, you could be losing muscle at a faster rate. “Omega 3 fatty acids can enhance insulin sensitivity in the muscle cells, and therefore improve the muscles’ ability to utilize the protein eaten,” explains Jennifer Novak, MS, CSCS. When there’s improved insulin sensitivity, the body fights the urge to break down muscle, so you’re more likely to notice gains over time.
While you probably don’t need to take supplements, make sure you’re eating foods high in omega-3s, like fish, leafy greens, tofu, and walnuts.