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Published on March 29, 2019

13 Most Common Muscle Building Mistakes to Avoid

13 Most Common Muscle Building Mistakes to Avoid

To get the most effective results in the most efficient manner, the trick is to workout smart. Therefore, when it comes to muscle building, it is important you know the key facts about what not to do, what to do and when to do it.

Along with weight loss, building muscle is one of the primary reasons people join a gym. After all, gaining lean muscle not only looks good, it is also important to your overall health. With increased muscle mass, you will experience improved posture, joint protection, stronger bones, stronger joints and tendons, better metabolism, athletic ability and balance.

The list goes on.

As you are on a muscle building journey, let’s look at the 13 most common muscle building mistakes to avoid:

1. Not Eating Enough

All that time in the gym pounding away at the weights may be all for nothing if you’re not taking in enough calories. This is because, without being in a calorie surplus, you will make muscle building very difficult for yourself.

It is important to remember, calories are needed to fuel your workouts and to help your muscles to repair and grow.

Calorie counting is far from a perfect science but to get a rough idea of how many you need a day to build muscle, you want to multiply your weight in pounds by 15 to 17.

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2. Not Consuming Enough Protein

Protein is important for many functions in the body. It is also important in the process of muscle building known as ‘muscle protein synthesis’. The purpose of your workout will be to breakdown the muscle fibers with microscopic tears and when they repair, they will build back bigger. Over time, this increases muscle mass.

To repair and rebuild your muscle tissue, you will need an adequate protein supply — aim for 0.8 grams of protein per pound of body weight. For example, if you weigh 150 pounds you would want to consume around 120 grams of protein a day.

3. Not Drinking Enough Water

Your body is made up of two thirds water. Out of that, two thirds of that water is found in your muscle. Your muscle cells are made up of protein and water and if you want to gain more of it you need to increase your water intake.

The usual 6 to 8 glasses a day is a good guideline but a more accurate approach is to drink half your weight in ounces of water each day. So, with our 150 pound example, you should be drinking approximately 75 ounces of water a day – the average cup has about 8 oz in it, this equals around 9 cups a day.

4. Overtraining

Training breaks your muscle tissue down and then repairs it afterwards. It might seem logical that the more you workout, the more muscle building you’ll accomplish.

However, this isn’t the case as training too often can cause your body to burn out because your body will not be getting the rest time to do so. This can increase your stress hormones, leading to injuries and even sickness as it can suppress your immune system.

Also, you put your central nervous system at risk by overtraining and this can adversely affect your results.

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5. Not Getting Enough Sleep

This is related to point 4 above as a lack of sleep is going to seriously derail muscle building. After nutrition, sleep is what encourages your body to repair and recover.

If you deprive yourself of sleep, you’re interrupting the growth and repair process. Sleep deprivation can elevate your stress hormones making gaining body fat easier, drag your energy levels down and negatively affect your workout.

6. Not Eating Enough Carbs

You might do well on a low-carb diet such as paleo or keto but those diets aren’t for everyone. If you’re working out hard, you will need energy and your body can get it through the form of glucose from carbohydrates.

These carbs will help push you in the gym to lift more weights, leading to better muscle building results.

It is important to keep your carb intake clean, you can do this by opting for complex carbohydrates like wild rice, steel-cut oats, and sweet potatoes.

7. Not Lifting Enough Weight

If your workouts are not challenging you, then you will need to increase the intensity.

If you are doing an exercise where you can do 20+ repetitions, you’re not lifting a heavy enough weight.

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Choose a weight that is challenging and that you can’t do over 10 to 15 reps with while maintaining good form.

8. Lifting Too Much Weight

On the flip side, if you are lifting a weight you can only perform 4 or 5 reps, it might be too heavy. You’ll gain strength training in that range but for better muscle building you want to be doing at least 10-15 reps.

9. Lifting Weights Too Fast

The pace at which you lift the weights is important because your muscles need time under tension as this is where your muscle fibers get the full resistance and muscle building occurs.

For example, if you perform a set of 10 repetitions in 10 to 15 seconds, your muscles will not receive the necessary time under tension. To achieve muscle growth, you want sets to last at least 30 to 45 seconds.

10. Lifting with Poor Form

Here you will want to make sure you are using a challenging weight but it must also be one you can control through the repetitions with good form.

If you can’t control the weights, you will be working out everything but the intended muscle. If the weight is too heavy and your form is sloppy, you’ll be engaging your joints and tendons more than your muscles and this can also lead to injury.

11. Not Using the Mind-Muscle Connection

This may seem weird, but it is important to be mindful of the muscle you are working.

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For example, if you are doing a bicep exercise, you want to focus on the bicep and the squeezing to produce the maximum muscle building. If you are doing bicep curls and just going through the motion, you’re not fully engaging the bicep.

Focus on the muscles you are using, consciously contract and squeeze them to make them grow bigger and stronger

12. Not Stretching Enough

If you start or finish your workout without stretching, you’re missing out an important part of muscle building.

Stretching at the end of a workout not only starts the recovery process but helps prepare your body for the next workout. Without stretching, you can leave your muscles tight and risk injury.

Stretching is also important for the muscle fascia – similar to a bag that holds your muscle tissue. It is important to stretch the fascia, because by doing so, you allow your muscles more room to grow. This can be done in between sets during the “pump” and after.

13. You’re Not Getting Enough Nutrients Each Day

You may eat a good amount of carbs and protein but you still need all the micronutrients important for muscle growth.

If you are deficient in certain vitamins and minerals, it can throw your body off. You need a good fruit and vegetable intake, aim for double digit servings of non-starchy vegetables each. You can add a multivitamin supplement to your diet.

The Takeaway

Muscle building doesn’t happen overnight, it takes smart, hard work, planning, and dedication. You will want to make sure you’re not making the above muscle building mistakes that can delay your progress.

More Resources About Muscle Building

Featured photo credit: John Fornander via unsplash.com

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Adnan Munye

Personal Trainer and Fitness Expert

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Last Updated on December 9, 2019

5 Simple Ways to Relieve Stress Effectively

5 Simple Ways to Relieve Stress Effectively

Everyone experiences mental stress at one time or another. Maybe you’re starting a new career, job, or business, or you feel incredibly overwhelmed between work, parenting, and your love life (or a lack of it). It could even be that you simply feel that you have way too much to do and not enough time to do it,  plus, on top of everything, nothing seems to be going the way it should!

Yup, we all experience mental stress from time-to-time, and that’s okay as long as you have the tools, techniques and knowledge that allow you to fully relieve it once it comes.

Here are 5 tips for relieving mental stress when it comes so you can function at your best while feeling good (and doing well) in work, love, or life:

1. Get Rationally Optimistic

Mental stress starts with your perception of your experiences. For instance, most people get stressed out when they perceive their reality as “being wrong” in some way. Essentially, they have a set idea of how things “should be” at any given moment, and when reality ends up being different (not even necessarily bad), they get stressed.

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This process is simply a result of perception and can be easily “fixed” by recognizing that although life might not always be going as YOU think it should, it’s still going as it should—for your own benefit.

In fact, once you fully recognize that everything in your life ultimately happens for your own growth, progress, and development—so you can achieve your goals and dreams—your perception works in your favor. You soon process and respond to your experience of life differently, for your advantage. That’s the essence of becoming “rationally optimistic.”

The result: no more mental stress.

2. Unplug

Just like you might need to unplug your computer when it starts acting all crazy, you should also “unplug” your mind.

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How on earth do you unplug your mind? Simple: just meditate.

It isn’t nearly difficult or complicated as some people think, so, if you don’t already meditate, give it a try. Whether you meditate for 5 minutes, 30 minutes, or 2 hours, this is a surefire way to reduce mental stress.

Meditation has been scientifically proven to relax your body (resulting in less mental stress), while also reducing anxiety and high blood pressure.

3. Easy on the Caffeine

Yes, we know, we know—everyone loves a nice java buzz, and that’s okay, but there’s a fine line between a small caffeine pick-me-up and a racing heart and mind that throws you into a frenzy of mental stress.

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Try giving up caffeine for a while and see how you feel. And, if that’s completely out of the question for you, at least try to minimize it. You might find that lots of your mental stress mysteriously “disappears” as your caffeine intake goes down.

4. Attack Mental Stress Via the Back Door

That’s right: your body and mind are part of the whole being, and are constantly influencing and affecting each other. If you’re experiencing a lot of mental stress, try to reduce it by calming your body down—a calm body equals a calmer mind.

How do you calm your body down and reduce physical stress? A  great way to reduce physical stress (thereby reducing mental stress) is to take natural supplements that are proven to reduce stress and anxiety while lifting your mood. Three good ones to look into are kava-kava, St John’s wort, and rhodiola rosea:

  • Kava-kava is a natural plant known to have mild sedative properties, and you should be able to find it at your natural health food store or vitamin store. It’s available in capsules or liquid extract form.
  • St John’s wort is a natural flower used to treat depression. Again, it’s found at your local health store in capsules or liquid. Because it uplifts mood (enabling you to see the brighter side of all experiences) it helps relieve mental stress as well.
  • Rhodiola rosea is a natural plant shown to reduce stress and uplift mood, and Russian athletes have been using it forever. Like the other two supplements mentioned, rhodiola rosea can be found at your natural health store in capsule or liquid form.

While these supplements are all natural and can be very helpful for most people, always check with your health care provider first as they can cause side-effects depending on your current health situation etc.

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5. Good Old-Fashioned Exercise

This tip has been around forever because it works. Nothing relieves mental stress like running, kickboxing—you name it. Anything super-physical will wipe out most of your mental stresses once the exercise endorphins (happy chemicals) are released into your brain.

The result: mental stress will be gone!

So, if you’re feeling overwhelmed or just plain stressed, try using some of the above tips. You can even print this out or save it to refer to regularly.

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Featured photo credit: Radu Florin via unsplash.com

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