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7 Common Muscle-Building Mistakes Men Make

7 Common Muscle-Building Mistakes Men Make

When I walk into the gym, I can always spot a handful of guys who look the same as they did last year. And they’re lifting the same amount of weight as last year, too. But they’re there every day. They’re sweating and working hard. They’re even chugging their protein shake in the locker room right after their workout. Yet they aren’t making any noticeable progress.

And it’s unfortunate, because they clearly want to be bigger and stronger. They’re putting in the effort, but they’re not seeing any results. The fact of the matter is that over 90% of men fail to reach anything close to their genetic potential when it comes to building muscle. And yes, I’m only talking about men who lift weights with the intention of building muscle.

The reason that most of these guys are failing to accomplish what they set out to do is that they’ve been fed a load of BS. They’ve read too many bodybuilding magazines and websites whose main aim is to sell supplements and workout plans rather than actually helping anyone improve their body. The result is that men everywhere are following ineffective diets and workout plans that are getting them nowhere. Except maybe to pounding their heads against the wall in frustration.

Below are seven of the most common muscle-building mistakes men make, and a quick description of how to correct them.

1. Not lifting heavy enough weights

When it comes to building muscle, the most important thing you can do is to get stronger. When you push yourself in the gym to lift heavier and heavier weights, your body is forced to adapt. Each time you lift a heavier weight than you did last time, your body is exposed to a stronger stimulus than it has previously seen.

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And it can only respond to this stimulus by synthesizing new muscle tissue in order to accommodate these new demands. But if you don’t push yourself to get stronger, your body won’t have any reason to adapt.

2. Not doing these 4 exercises

When it comes to the exercises themselves, not all are created equal. You see – almost every exercise can be split into one of two categories: isolation movements and compound movements. Isolation movements only target one muscle group while compound movements target several at once. For example, a bicep curl only targets your biceps, but a pull-up targets your biceps and your back.

For this reason, you can lift heavier weights with compound movements, and as we explored in point number one above, lifting heavier weights is ultimately what causes your body to build new muscle tissue.

If you focus on getting stronger doing these four compound exercises, the muscle will start to pile up on:

Barbell back squats
Barbell bench press
Barbell bent-over rows
Barbell overhead press

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Together these movements combine to work just about every single muscle in your body. They also build strength in functional movement patterns (this is why they’re some of the main exercises professional athletes perform). So don’t ignore them.

3. Not eating enough calories

Most people today have been conditioned to be afraid of calories. And this is unfortunate, especially when it comes to building muscle.

You see – calories are energy for your body. And your body needs energy to synthesize new muscle tissue. Sure, eating too many calories and not training hard and getting stronger will probably lead your body to storing them as fat. But if your workouts are on point and you’re still not seeing any results, then this could be why.

While you don’t need to go overboard, make sure that you aren’t starving your muscles by eating at least 3 hearty meals per day, each of them including solid sources of protein, fat, and carbohydrates.

4. Lifting weights too frequently

More lifting equals more muscle, right? Wrong.

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Our muscle protein synthesis rates are raised for approximately 48 hours after we lift weights. This means that we have the highest potential to build muscle for about two days after we lift weights. During this time your focus should be on diet, rest, and recovery – NOT lifting more and more weights.

You see – when you’re in the gym, you’re actually in a catabolic state. This means that you’re actually losing muscle mass while you lift weights. So ideally you should focus on going hard and getting stronger in the gym every other day. And then eating and resting in between those sessions.

5. Doing too much cardio

Cardio can sabotage your muscle-building efforts for the same reasons that eating too few calories can do so. When you do cardio, you burn calories. And, as we explored above, not giving your body enough calories can prevent it from having the energy necessary to build new muscle mass. So while you shouldn’t ignore cardio completely, because it is good for your heart, I believe it should be limited to once per week when you’re focused on getting bigger and building muscle.

6. Relying on supplements and powders

Men’s health and bodybuilding supplements constitute a multi-billion dollar industry. And it’s quite unfortunate. The harsh truth is that the only “supplements” that really work in terms of building muscle are steroids. And they’re illegal. And they’ll mess up your hormone levels. So they shouldn’t be considered.

Aside from steroids, your money is better spent on buying groceries and real food. Protein powder isn’t magical – it’s just convenient form of the same stuff you get in chicken, eggs, or any other whole food source of protein. If you focus your time and energy on getting stronger in the key movements we covered above, and eat enough calories, you’ll make better progress than 95% of guys at the gym. All while taking no supplements.

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Trust me, I’ve gone through the studies and even tried a bunch of different products myself. The best progress I’ve made has always been while keeping it simple and focus on my diet and training. Not shoveling supplements down my throat.

7. Not getting enough sleep

As we covered above: it’s not until after you’re done lifting weights that you’re body actually synthesizes new muscle tissue. And then there are two key ingredients that allow this to happen: diet and rest. We already covered diet above. Getting enough sleep is the second side of the coin. When you’re sleeping, you’re body is in a state of repair, and this is when the muscle is built. So aim for 8 hours of sleep per night, or you might be sabotaging your efforts in the gym.

Featured photo credit: michael brooking via flickr.com

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Last Updated on March 13, 2019

How to Get out of a Rut: 12 Useful Ways to Get Unstuck

How to Get out of a Rut: 12 Useful Ways to Get Unstuck

Have you gotten into a rut before? Or are you in a rut right now?

You know you’re in a rut when you run out of ideas and inspiration. I personally see a rut as a productivity vacuum. It might very well be a reason why you aren’t getting results. Even as you spend more time on your work, you can’t seem to get anything constructive done. While I’m normally productive, I get into occasional ruts (especially when I’ve been working back-to-back without rest). During those times, I can spend an entire day in front of the computer and get nothing done. It can be quite frustrating.

Over time, I have tried and found several methods that are helpful to pull me out of a rut. If you experience ruts too, whether as a working professional, a writer, a blogger, a student or other work, you will find these useful. Here are 12 of my personal tips to get out of ruts:

1. Work on the small tasks.

When you are in a rut, tackle it by starting small. Clear away your smaller tasks which have been piling up. Reply to your emails, organize your documents, declutter your work space, and reply to private messages.

Whenever I finish doing that, I generate a positive momentum which I bring forward to my work.

2. Take a break from your work desk.

Get yourself away from your desk and go take a walk. Go to the washroom, walk around the office, go out and get a snack.

Your mind is too bogged down and needs some airing. Sometimes I get new ideas right after I walk away from my computer.

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3. Upgrade yourself

Take the down time to upgrade yourself. Go to a seminar. Read up on new materials (#7). Pick up a new language. Or any of the 42 ways here to improve yourself.

The modern computer uses different typefaces because Steve Jobs dropped in on a calligraphy class back in college. How’s that for inspiration?

4. Talk to a friend.

Talk to someone and get your mind off work for a while.

Talk about anything, from casual chatting to a deep conversation about something you really care about. You will be surprised at how the short encounter can be rejuvenating in its own way.

5. Forget about trying to be perfect.

If you are in a rut, the last thing you want to do is step on your own toes with perfectionist tendencies.

Just start small. Do what you can, at your own pace. Let yourself make mistakes.

Soon, a little trickle of inspiration will come. And then it’ll build up with more trickles. Before you know it, you have a whole stream of ideas.

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6. Paint a vision to work towards.

If you are continuously getting in a rut with your work, maybe there’s no vision inspiring you to move forward.

Think about why you are doing this, and what you are doing it for. What is the end vision in mind?

Make it as vivid as possible. Make sure it’s a vision that inspires you and use that to trigger you to action.

7. Read a book (or blog).

The things we read are like food to our brain. If you are out of ideas, it’s time to feed your brain with great materials.

Here’s a list of 40 books you can start off with. Stock your browser with only the feeds of high quality blogs, such as Lifehack.org, DumbLittleMan, Seth Godin’s Blog, Tim Ferris’ Blog, Zen Habits or The Personal Excellence Blog.

Check out the best selling books; those are generally packed with great wisdom.

8. Have a quick nap.

If you are at home, take a quick nap for about 20-30 minutes. This clears up your mind and gives you a quick boost. Nothing quite like starting off on a fresh start after catching up on sleep.

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9. Remember why you are doing this.

Sometimes we lose sight of why we do what we do, and after a while we become jaded. A quick refresher on why you even started on this project will help.

What were you thinking when you thought of doing this? Retrace your thoughts back to that moment. Recall why you are doing this. Then reconnect with your muse.

10. Find some competition.

Nothing quite like healthy competition to spur us forward. If you are out of ideas, then check up on what people are doing in your space.

Colleagues at work, competitors in the industry, competitors’ products and websites, networking conventions.. you get the drill.

11. Go exercise.

Since you are not making headway at work, might as well spend the time shaping yourself up.

Sometimes we work so much that we neglect our health and fitness. Go jog, swim, cycle, whichever exercise you prefer.

As you improve your physical health, your mental health will improve, too. The different facets of ourselves are all interlinked.

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Here’re 15 Tips to Restart the Exercise Habit (and How to Keep It).

12. Take a good break.

Ruts are usually signs that you have been working too long and too hard. It’s time to get a break.

Beyond the quick tips above, arrange for a 1-day or 2-days of break from your work. Don’t check your (work) emails or do anything work-related. Relax and do your favorite activities. You will return to your work recharged and ready to start.

Contrary to popular belief, the world will not end from taking a break from your work. In fact, you will be much more ready to make an impact after proper rest. My best ideas and inspiration always hit me whenever I’m away from my work.

Take a look at this to learn the importance of rest: The Importance of Scheduling Downtime

More Resources About Getting out of a Rut

Featured photo credit: Joshua Earle via unsplash.com

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