Top 10 muscle building mistakes

Posted: September 24, 2012 in Muscle and Strength Matters
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Building muscle and strength isn’t the most complicated thing on earth but there are some common mistakes that can really limit your progress. It’s not just beginners, but even experienced gym goers that can end up making some basics mistakes.  So, whether you’re just starting out on your muscle and strength building journey or a seasoned lifter, avoid these 10 common training mistakes to ensure you keep improving:

1)      Being inconsistent – One of the things I’ve learnt is that consistency is king! Being consistent with your workouts, nutrition, and rest is one of the most important factors that will determine your success in building muscle and strength.  There is no point in having the perfect week working out, pushing yourself hard and then following it up with nothing for weeks.  Or, there is no point making sure you never miss your chest workout and being inconsistent with your leg workouts.This will lead to an imbalanced physique.  So, whether your plan is to workout 3 days a week or just 1 day a week, make you are consistent and have a program that you stick to. Each workout and each quality meal will add up over time and contribute to building a stronger and more muscular physique.  

2)      Quitting – A lot of people start on the path to building muscle and strength, but many quit before they really begin to see results. Remember, it’s a journey, and sometimes it’s going to be hard. There will be times where you have brilliant training sessions and set personal bests and other times you will struggle to increase your strength. You may even have to try out numerous approaches to training and nutrition to see what works for you. But whatever you do, stick with any given routine long enough and you’ll see results, and once you do you’ll never want to quit.

3)      Not eating properly – You know what they say, you are what you eat! You could have the most effective workout plan and really train hard in the gym, but all this is wasted if you don’t have proper nutrition to fuel your training and help repair your muscles. When you lift weights, your muscle fibres are broken down and it’s only when you are resting that they are rebuilt stronger and bigger. You should put in as much thought to your nutrition as you do for the actual workout.  If you don’t, then you’re really limiting your muscle and strength gains.

4)      Not doing compound movements – A lot of people will spend hours in the gym performing isolation exercises such as bicep curls, tricep extensions or dumbell flies for chest.  Focusing primarily on in isolating individual muscles isn’t the best way to build a strong a muscular physique.  People that do these are basically majoring in the minors and not getting the most out of their workouts. You’re workout needs to be focused on doing the compound movements such as squats/leg press, bench press, shoulder press, rows etc… By doing these exercises you are working more muscle groups that will all be getting stronger.  Isolation movements can be fitted into the end of your workout as assistance exercises. Personally, I aim to base most of my routine around compound movements and very rarely isolate things like biceps. The compound pulling and pushing movements will work muscles such as the biceps and triceps anyway.

5)      Not training the legs – We’ve all probably seen the guys with  a really muscular looking chest and big arms but  skinny legs.  Not only does this make the physique look unbalanced it’s also one that isn’t truly strong. Training the legs also helps your whole body get stronger and the benefits can be carried over into other lifts such as bench press and shoulder presses. So if you want to build a balanced physique, make sure you work your legs.   

6)      Not pulling enough – A common mistake a lot of people make is to concentrate too much on pushing movements such as bench press and not balance this out with pulling such as barbell rows. This leads to muscle imbalances, can lead to a slouching posture and even lead to shoulder injuries. You should ensure that you balance your training by performing as many pulling exercises as you do pressing.  This will help keep your shoulders healthy, improve your posture and even give the illusion of a bigger chest.  I often train chest and back together and ensure that for each pressing set that I do, I do the same number or even more sets of pulling movements.

7)      Using bad form – It’s all well and good using compound movements as the staple of your workout, but if these are done with bad form, you’re wasting your time. More importantly, you’re increasing the risk of serious injury. So if, when you are squatting, your back is rounding or you can only manage 2 inch knee tremblers, then you should lower the weight and perform the exercise with correct form. Quality, perfect form reps are much more effective and safer than bad form reps with a heavier weight.  When you begin, it might take you some time to perfect your form. Don’t worry about this because once you have perfected your form you’ll be able to make good progress safely.

8)      Comparing yourself to others – There is nothing wrong with a bit of competition, but you should know your limits. There will always be someone bigger and stronger than you. When you go to the gym there will be a range of people including, beginners, seasoned bodybuilders and power lifters with huge amounts of muscle and strength. Don’t be fazed by this and don’t compare yourself to anyone else.  Remember, everyone started as a beginner. More importantly, know what your own goals are and stick to them.

9)      Thinking that you need supplements to build muscle and relying too much on them – Certain supplements can be a useful aid in helping you to reach your goals. But that’s just what they are, supplements. Too many people fall into the trap of relying on supplements and they end up taking the place of proper nutrition from a balanced and varied diet made up of whole foods. In truth, you can build a muscular and strong physique without supplements and the only things you really need is a good workout and program and good quality nutrition from food.  So don’t fall into the trap of believing all the marketing, supplements can be useful but there isn’t any magic formula that will make you gain muscle and build strength. The only thing that will do that is lifting weights and proper nutrition from whole food.

10)   Overtraining – When it comes to building muscle and strength, more isn’t necessarily case of better. When you work out, you are essentially breaking down the muscle. The body then needs rest and nutrition to repair and build the muscle.  Overtraining occurs when your body hasn’t been given the chance to recover. It can result from working out for too long, to frequently, not eating properly or not getting enough rest.  Spending 3 hours in the gym everyday doesn’t mean you will get stronger and bigger. You could end up overtraining and could actually lose muscle and strength because the body isn’t getting the chance to rebuild. So’ if you’re starting to feel weaker, getting aches and pains and feel exhausted all the time, these are just a few of the symptoms of over training and it’s time to take a break. Giving your body time to rest and recover will ultimately mean you’ll come back with more motivation and feeling stronger.

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