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Last Updated on December 17, 2020

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 April 14, 2021

12 Best at Home Workouts (No Equipment Needed)

12 Best at Home Workouts (No Equipment Needed)

Covid-19 has certainly made getting to the gym more difficult, but if we’re honest, it was difficult before, as well. Between tiring days at work, helping the kids with their homework, and maintaining a social life, where do you find time to squeeze in an hour or two at the gym? Sometimes, the only solution to maintaining your health and fitness rests on the best at home workout.

The good news is that it’s possible to train from home without any equipment and get fantastic results. As long as you’re pushing the body hard enough, you’re going to be fine. The bad news is that you may not know where to start.

There are a plethora of different training regimens out there, and it’s difficult to know which one is best for you, especially if you’re used to live classes or in-person workout programs.

This article will cover the 12 best at-home workouts that you can use for strength, High-Intensity Interval Training (HIIT), and mobility. There will be an exact breakdown of all the exercises, sets, reps, rest periods, and instructions required to stay fit, healthy, and happy while on lockdown.

The following sessions are broken down into beginner, intermediate, and advanced workouts to accommodate any experience level. They are all bodyweight exercises that can be combined into a full body workout to build strength while working out at home.

A thorough warm-up is also included to ensure that you don’t get injured. Please check each workout before you perform it to make sure that the exercises and movements don’t cause you any pain from previous or pre-existing injuries.

If you need help getting into the habit of working out at home, you can try Lifehack’s free 30-Day Resistance Band Workout Challenge.

Read on to find the 12 best at-home workouts you can use to upgrade your strength, burn some calories, and improve your flexibility while training at home.

Warm-Up

Complete the warm-ups below for 5-6 minutes before each of the best at home workouts you’ll find below. Complete each exercise for a total of 15 seconds at a slow to moderate pace, and your body will be ready to jump into more intense exercises.

Repeat for 3-4 rounds, as this will help lubricate your joints, slowly elevate your heart rate, and get your body ready for exercise[1].

  • Exercise 1: Squats

    • Exercise 2: Lunge

      • Exercise 3: Leg Swings

        • Exercise 4: Star Jumps

          • Exercise 5: Push-ups

            • Exercise 6: Squat Thrusts

              Dynamic Stretches

              Complete the relevant dynamic stretches after your warm-up. For strength workouts, complete the stretches relevant to the session you’re about to partake in (e.g. upper body stretches before an upper-body workout).

              For HIIT workouts, complete both the lower body and upper body dynamic stretches. For mobility workouts, you don’t need to do these.

              Aim to do 15-20 reps on each side for 1 round.

              Upper Body Dynamic Stretches:

              • Exercise 1: Arm Swings

                • Exercise 2: Arm Circles

                  • Exercise 3: External Shoulder Rotations

                    • Exercise 4: Torso Twists

                      Lower Body Dynamic Stretches:

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                      • Exercise 1: Step Throughs

                        • Exercise 2: Lying Side Leg Swings

                          • Exercise 3: Quadruped Kickbacks/Hip Circles

                            • Exercise 4: Leg Swings (Front & Side)

                              Strength Workouts

                              1. Upper-Body Strength Workout (Beginner)

                              This is one of the best at home workouts if you’re a beginner looking to build upper-body strength. Complete all exercises with 30-60 seconds rest between sets.

                              For exercises 2-6, use two water bottles to mimic weights. For exercise 7, you can use the couch or a chair to support yourself.

                              • Exercise 1: Push-Ups — 2 sets, 5-10 reps

                                • Exercise 2: Bent-Over Row — 2 sets, 8-10 reps

                                  • Exercise 3: Shoulder Press — 2 sets, 8-10 reps

                                    • Exercise 4: Floor Chest Press — 2 sets, 8-10 reps

                                      • Exercise 5: Lateral Raises — 2 sets, 8-10 reps

                                        • Exercise 6: Bicep Curls — 2 sets, 12-15 reps

                                          • Exercise 7: Triceps Dips — 2 sets, 12-15 reps

                                            2. Abs Strength Workout (Beginner)

                                            This bodyweight workout is great for building muscle tone in your abs. Complete all exercises with 30 seconds rest between sets, and use a yoga mat if you have one.

                                            • Exercise 1: Air Bike — 2 sets, 8-10 reps

                                              • Exercise 2: Crunches — 2 sets, 8-10 reps

                                                • Exercise 3: Russian Twists — 2 sets, 8-10 reps

                                                  • Exercise 4: Bridges — 2 sets, 8-10 reps

                                                    • Exercise 5: Plank Shoulder Taps — 2 sets, 8-10 reps

                                                      • Exercise 6: Flutter Kicks — 2 sets, 8-10 reps (each leg)

                                                        3. Leg Strength Workout (Beginner)

                                                        If you’re looking to add some strength to your legs, this is the best at home workout for that purpose. Complete all exercises with 30-60 seconds rest between sets. For exercises 3-4, you can use the sofa or a chair to support yourself.

                                                        • Exercise 1: Squat Kicks — 2 sets, 8-10 reps

                                                          • Exercise 2: Forward Standing Lunges — 2 sets, 8-10 reps

                                                            • Exercise 3: Bulgarian Split Squat — 2 sets, 8-10 reps

                                                              • Exercise 4: Hip Thrusts — 2 sets, 8-10 reps

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                                                                • Exercise 5: Romanian Deadlift (Use two water bottles) — 2 sets, 8-10 reps

                                                                  • Exercise 6: Standing Calf Raises — 2 sets, 12-15 reps

                                                                    4. Upper-Body Strength Workout (Advanced)

                                                                    Complete all exercises with 30-60 seconds rest between sets. With advanced workouts, you have to push yourself close to your limit, or to your absolute limit (until you feel like you really can’t do more). This will dictate how many reps to do.

                                                                    For exercises 6-7, use two heavy water bottles if you don’t have weights available.

                                                                    • Exercise 1: Vertical Wall Push-Ups — 3-4 sets, 1 rep before limit

                                                                      • Exercise 2: Pike Push-Ups — 3-4 sets, 1 rep before limit

                                                                        • Exercise 3: Towel Row — 3-4 sets, 1 rep before limit

                                                                          • Exercise 4: Plyometric Push-Ups — 3-4 sets, 1 rep before limit

                                                                            • Exercise 5: Triceps Extensions (from plank position) — 3-4 sets, 1 rep before limit

                                                                              • Exercise 6: Bicep Hammer Curls — 3-4 sets, until limit

                                                                                • Exercise 7: Triceps Kickbacks — 3-4 sets, until limit

                                                                                  5. Abs Strength Workout (Advanced)

                                                                                  If you need more core support and strength, this is the best at home workout for those who are already comfortable working out. Complete all exercises with 30-60 seconds rest between sets.

                                                                                  With advanced workouts, you have to push yourself close to your limit, or to your absolute limit (until you feel like you really can’t do more). This will dictate how many reps to do.

                                                                                  • Exercise 1: Jack Knife Sit Ups — 3-4 sets, 1 rep before limit

                                                                                    • Exercise 2: Lying Leg Raises — 3-4 sets, 1 rep before limit

                                                                                      • Exercise 3: Plank Hand-to-Toe Touches — 3-4 sets, 1 rep before limit

                                                                                        • Exercise 4: Cocoon Crunches — 3-4 sets, 1 rep before limit

                                                                                          • Exercise 5: Plank Elbow-to-Knee — 3-4 sets, 1 rep before limit

                                                                                            • Exercise 6: Side Plank Reach Through — 3-4 sets, until limit

                                                                                              6. Leg Strength Workout (Advanced)

                                                                                              Complete all exercises with 30-60 seconds rest between sets. With advanced workouts, you have to push yourself close to your limit, or to your absolute limit (until you feel like you really can’t do more). This will dictate how many reps to do.

                                                                                              For exercises 4-6, use heavy water bottles if you don’t have weights available.

                                                                                              • Exercise 1: Pistol Squat — 3-4 sets, 1 rep before limit

                                                                                                • Exercise 2: Bulgarian Jump Squat (use sofa) — 3-4 sets, 1 rep before limit

                                                                                                  • Exercise 3: Jumping Lunges — 3-4 sets, 1 rep before limit

                                                                                                    • Exercise 4: Single-Leg Romanian Deadlift — 3-4 sets, 1 rep before limit

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                                                                                                      • Exercise 5: Single-Leg Hip Thrusts — 3-4 sets, 1 rep before limit

                                                                                                        • Exercise 6: Single-Leg Calf Raises — 3-4 sets, until limit

                                                                                                          7. HIIT Workout (Beginner)

                                                                                                          This is the best at home workout for those who are new to HIIT training. Complete all exercises for 30 seconds of work with 30 seconds of rest. Complete 4 rounds.

                                                                                                          • Exercise 1: Squat

                                                                                                            • Exercise 2: Toe Touches

                                                                                                              • Exercise 3: Walk-Outs

                                                                                                                • Exercise 4: Heel Flicks

                                                                                                                  • Exercise 5: Plank

                                                                                                                    • Exercise 6: Jumping Jacks

                                                                                                                      • Exercise 7: Mountain Climbers

                                                                                                                        8. HIIT Workout (Intermediate)

                                                                                                                        Complete all exercises for 35 seconds of work with 25 seconds of rest. Complete 5-6 rounds.

                                                                                                                        • Exercise 1: Squat Kicks

                                                                                                                          • Exercise 2: Burpees

                                                                                                                            • Exercise 3: Push-Ups

                                                                                                                              • Exercise 4: High Knees

                                                                                                                                • Exercise 5: Plank Ups

                                                                                                                                  • Exercise 6: Star-Jumps

                                                                                                                                    • Exercise 7: Cross-Body Mountain Climbers

                                                                                                                                      9. HIIT Workout (Advanced)

                                                                                                                                      If you’ve already been doing HIIT training for a while, this is one of the best at home workouts to keep you going. Complete all exercises for 45 seconds of work with 15 seconds of rest. Complete 7-8 rounds.

                                                                                                                                      • Exercise 1: Jump Squats

                                                                                                                                        • Exercise 2: Hand Release Burpees

                                                                                                                                          • Exercise 3: Lateral Shoot Throughs

                                                                                                                                            • Exercise 4: Tuck Jumps

                                                                                                                                              • Exercise 5: Plank Toe Touches

                                                                                                                                                • Exercise 6: Spiderman Push-Ups

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                                                                                                                                                  • Exercise 7: Sprawls

                                                                                                                                                    Mobility Workouts

                                                                                                                                                    10. Upper Body Mobility Workout

                                                                                                                                                    Hold each exercise for 15-20 seconds total, and do 2-3 sets. Slowly increase the range of each stretch until you feel tension, then hold before slowly releasing it.

                                                                                                                                                    This workout will help improve flexibility in your upper body.

                                                                                                                                                    • Exercise 1: Cat-Cow

                                                                                                                                                      • Exercise 2: Upward Dog

                                                                                                                                                        • Exercise 3: Chest Release

                                                                                                                                                          • Exercise 4: Child’s Pose

                                                                                                                                                            • Exercise 5: Reach Through (15-20 seconds each side)

                                                                                                                                                              11. Lower Body Mobility Workout

                                                                                                                                                              If you need more flexibility in your hips and legs, this is the best at home workout for you. Hold each exercise for 15-20 seconds total, and do 2-3 sets. Slowly increase the range of each stretch until you feel tension, then hold before slowly releasing it.

                                                                                                                                                              This workout will help improve flexibility in your lower body.

                                                                                                                                                              • Exercise 1: Scorpion Kicks (15-20 seconds each side)

                                                                                                                                                                • Exercise 2: Seated Glute Stretch (15-20 seconds each side)

                                                                                                                                                                  • Exercise 3: Lying Quad Stretch (15-20 seconds each side)

                                                                                                                                                                    • Exercise 4: Lumbar Twist (15-20 seconds each side)

                                                                                                                                                                      • Exercise 5: Standing Hamstring Stretch

                                                                                                                                                                        • Exercise 6: Seated Hip Flexor Stretch (15-20 seconds each side)

                                                                                                                                                                          12. Spinal Mobility Workout

                                                                                                                                                                          Complete each exercise for 10 reps total, and do 2-3 sets. This workout will help improve your posture, alleviate lower back pain, and increase your flexibility.

                                                                                                                                                                          It’s highly recommended if you’re an office worker that spends most of the day sitting.

                                                                                                                                                                          • Exercise 1: Prone Back Extension

                                                                                                                                                                            • Exercise 2: Tail Wag

                                                                                                                                                                              • Exercise 3: Quadruped Side Bend

                                                                                                                                                                                • Exercise 4: Seated Forward Fold

                                                                                                                                                                                  • Exercise 5: A-Frame to Squat

                                                                                                                                                                                    • Exercise 6: Side-Lying Rotations

                                                                                                                                                                                      Final Thoughts

                                                                                                                                                                                      These are the 12 best at home workouts that you can use to level up your body, torch some calories, and enhance your flexibility while at home. Give these a go, and you’ll be well on your way feeling fitter, healthier, and more productive after lockdown is over!

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                                                                                                                                                                                      Featured photo credit: Scott Broome via unsplash.com

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