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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 September 18, 2020

7 Simple Rules to Live by to Get in Shape in Two Weeks

7 Simple Rules to Live by to Get in Shape in Two Weeks

Learning how to get in shape and set goals is important if you’re looking to live a healthier lifestyle and get closer to your goal weight. While this does require changes to your daily routine, you’ll find that you are able to look and feel better in only two weeks.

Over the years, I’ve learned a lot about what it takes to get in shape. Although anyone can cover the basics (eat right and exercise), there are some things that I could only learn through trial and error. Let’s cover some of the most important points for how to get in shape in two weeks.

1. Exercise Daily

It is far easier to make exercise a habit if it is a daily one. If you aren’t exercising at all, I recommend starting by exercising a half hour every day. When you only exercise a couple times per week, it is much easier to turn one day off into three days off, a week off, or a month off.

If you are already used to exercising, switching to three or four times a week to fit your schedule may be preferable, but it is a lot harder to maintain a workout program you don’t do every day.

Be careful to not repeat the same exercise routine each day. If you do an intense ab workout one day, try switching it up to general cardio the next. You can also squeeze in a day of light walking to break up the intensity.

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If you’re a morning person, check out these morning exercises that will start your day off right.

2. Duration Doesn’t Substitute for Intensity

Once you get into the habit of regular exercise, where do you go if you still aren’t reaching your goals? Most people will solve the problem by exercising for longer periods of time, turning forty-minute workouts into two hour stretches. Not only does this drain your time, but it doesn’t work particularly well.

One study shows that “exercising for a whole hour instead of a half does not provide any additional loss in either body weight or fat”[1].

This is great news for both your schedule and your levels of motivation. You’ll likely find it much easier to exercise for 30 minutes a day instead of an hour. In those 30 minutes, do your best to up the intensity to your appropriate edge to get the most out of the time.

3. Acknowledge Your Limits

Many people get frustrated when they plateau in their weight loss or muscle gaining goals as they’re learning how to get in shape. Everyone has an equilibrium and genetic set point where their body wants to remain. This doesn’t mean that you can’t achieve your fitness goals, but don’t be too hard on yourself if you are struggling to lose weight or put on muscle.

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Acknowledging a set point doesn’t mean giving up, but it does mean realizing the obstacles you face.

Expect to hit a plateau in your own fitness results[2]. When you expect a plateau, you can manage around it so you can continue your progress at a more realistic rate. When expectations meet reality, you can avoid dietary crashes.

4. Eat Healthy, Not Just Food That Looks Healthy

Know what you eat. Don’t fuss over minutia like whether you’re getting enough Omega 3’s or tryptophan, but be aware of the big things. Look at the foods you eat regularly and figure out whether they are healthy or not. Don’t get fooled by the deceptively healthy snacks just pretending to be good for you.

The basic nutritional advice includes:

  • Eat unprocessed foods
  • Eat more veggies
  • Use meat as a side dish, not a main course
  • Eat whole grains, not refined grains[3]

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Eat whole grains when you want to learn how to get in shape.

    5. Watch Out for Travel

    Don’t let a four-day holiday interfere with your attempts when you’re learning how to get in shape. I don’t mean that you need to follow your diet and exercise plan without any excursion, but when you are in the first few weeks, still forming habits, be careful that a week long break doesn’t terminate your progress.

    This is also true of schedule changes that leave you suddenly busy or make it difficult to exercise. Have a backup plan so you can be consistent, at least for the first month when you are forming habits.

    If travel is on your schedule and can’t be avoided, make an exercise plan before you go[4], and make sure to pack exercise clothes and an exercise mat as motivation to keep you on track.

    6. Start Slow

    Ever start an exercise plan by running ten miles and then puking your guts out? Maybe you aren’t that extreme, but burnout is common early on when learning how to get in shape. You have a lifetime to be healthy, so don’t try to go from couch potato to athletic superstar in a week.

    If you are starting a running regime, for example, run less than you can to start. Starting strength training? Work with less weight than you could theoretically lift. Increasing intensity and pushing yourself can come later when your body becomes comfortable with regular exercise.

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    7. Be Careful When Choosing a Workout Partner

    Should you have a workout partner? That depends. Workout partners can help you stay motivated and make exercising more fun. But they can also stop you from reaching your goals.

    My suggestion would be to have a workout partner, but when you start to plateau (either in physical ability, weight loss/gain, or overall health) and you haven’t reached your goals, consider mixing things up a bit.

    If you plateau, you may need to make changes to continue improving. In this case it’s important to talk to your workout partner about the changes you want to make, and if they don’t seem motivated to continue, offer a thirty day break where you both try different activities.

    I notice that guys working out together tend to match strength after a brief adjustment phase. Even if both are trying to improve, something seems to stall improvement once they reach a certain point. I found that I was able to lift as much as 30-50% more after taking a short break from my regular workout partner.

    Final Thoughts

    Learning how to get in shape in as little as two weeks sounds daunting, but if you’re motivated and have the time and energy to devote to it, it’s certainly possible.

    Find an exercise routine that works for you, eat healthy, drink lots of water, and watch as the transformation begins.

    More Tips on Getting in Shape

    Featured photo credit: Alexander Redl via unsplash.com

    Reference

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