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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
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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.

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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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Published on August 5, 2021

30-Minute HIIT Workout You Can Do At Home (Without Equipment)

30-Minute HIIT Workout You Can Do At Home (Without Equipment)
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The “HIIT” in HIIT workout is an acronym for “High-Intensity Interval Training.” It is an interval program that alternates a high-intensity exercise, which is done for a short amount of time with a less intense recovery period done until exhaustion.

This type of workout is not for the faint at heart. HIIT workouts should be approached with caution. If you are beginning your fitness journey, this workout may not be out of the question as it can be adjusted for any “body” type. Once you are familiar with the format, it is one of the best styles to add to your weekly routine.

Benefits of HIIT

Adding HIIT workouts at home to your routine offers many benefits. It is the best way to boost your metabolism, lose unwanted pounds, build strength, save time, and help you notice steady progress in your fitness journey.

Adding a 10 to 20-minute bodyweight HIIT workout to your week is beneficial when at home or when traveling and you are short on time. Activities should be adaptable to your fitness level, daily needs, and current life situations to see fast results and avoid wasting time.

What to Expect While Performing a HIIT Workout

Any exercise program will elevate your heart rate, so if you have been out of the game for a bit, always consult with your doctor before undergoing any fitness program. It is also advisable to start small and build up your endurance.

If you are just starting, your rest period may be a bit longer initially, but with consistency, you will become more fit, allowing you to handle shorter rest periods and more intervals at a higher intensity. Expect to give maximal effort for the first few intervals.

Remember that this is your fitness journey, and everyone’s experience will be different. The most important thing is to meet yourself where you are and be consistent, so you can begin to notice your results.

Let’s get started.

30-Minute HIIT Workout

Here is a quick 30-minute HIIT workout you can do anytime, anywhere. Go at an appropriate pace for your fitness level so you can maintain good form throughout the routine, and always begin and end with a stretch.

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I like to follow the RPE scale or Rate of Perceived Exertion to gauge my intensity. If you do not own a heart-rate monitor, this scale will allow you to identify when you need to decrease or increase the intensity. (See chart below.)

    On a scale of 1 to 10, how are you feeling? 1 equals very light effort with a regular breathing pattern, and 10 means an all-out max effort where you are unable to carry a conversation. Throughout the video, I will provide tips and modifications to help you adjust your levels accordingly.

    For this HIIT workout at home, there will be one circuit of five exercises with three rounds each, 35 seconds of work, and 10 seconds of rest. Allow for a 30-second to 1-minute recovery after each round.

    Always begin each session with a dynamic warm-up to prep the body for more intense moves. Once you have mastered the technique for each exercise, challenge your body by adding another set and increasing your speed.

    Let’s dive right in:

    5-Minute Dynamic Warm-Up

    Decrease muscle tension and increase your flexibility and mobility around the joints with this 5-minute dynamic warm-up.

    (1 x 10 repetitions for each move)

    1. Jumping Jacks

    Stand with your feet together and place your arms by your side. At the same time, jump the feet apart and raise your arms overhead. Jump your feet back together and bring your arms back down. Repeat until the desired reps are met.

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    Modification: Lose the jump and step side to side.

    2. Hamstring Crossovers

    Begin at the end of your mat. Cross your right leg over your left and bow or fold forward from the hip crease, reaching toward your toes. Repeat on the other side, walking to the right. Come back up and repeat five times while walking left.

    3. Walking Quadriceps

    Stand at the back of your mat facing forward. Bend your right knee and grab the top of your right foot, pulling your heel to your glutes. Push your hips forward so you feel the stretch in the front of the thigh. Alternate with the left foot and complete five per side.

    4. Walkouts With Low Lunge Hip Stretch

    Stand at the back of your mat. Inhale as you sweep your arms up overhead. Then, exhale and fold forward towards your toes. Walkout to a high plank. Take your right foot and bring it up to the outside of the right pinky toe. Keep the left hand on the ground and reach the right arm straight up the sky. Twist. Bring the right arm down and come back to plank. Switch to the left side. Come back to plank and walk the hands back to the feet. Come back up to standing and repeat.

    5. Cat-Cow

    Come down to hands and knees. Inhale, lift your gaze, and drop the belly to the mat, coming to a slightly arched back. Exhale, tuck the chin, pull the belly in, round the spine, and repeat five times.

    6. T-Spine

    Stay on your hands and knees. Place your right hand behind your head. Twist the body, reaching the right elbow to the left thumb. Repeat 10 times, then switch sides.

    7. Bear Crawl to Down Dog

    Stay on your hands and knees, and tuck your toes under. Hover your knees about an inch off the ground. Inhale to prepare, then exhale, and straighten your legs and lift your hips to the sky, coming to an inverted “V.” Peddle your feet, bending one knee and then the other to feel the stretch in your calves and hamstrings.

    HIIT Exercises

    Here are the HIIT workouts you can do at home. Remember to take 30 seconds to one minute of recovery time after each round.

    1. Squat With Kick

    Begin standing with your feet slightly wider than your hips with toes turned out. Keeping your core engaged and chest proud, begin to engage your glutes and sit the hips back and down as if sitting in a chair. Continue engaging the glutes and legs as you drive through the feet to stand up. Balance on the left leg as you kick the right foot out. Pretend you are knocking down a door. Squat back down and repeat for 35 seconds, then switch sides

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    Modification: Keep the kick low.

    2. High Plank Shoulder Tap to Push-Up

    Begin in a High Plank position. Keeping the core tight, and lift the right hand to the left shoulder. Place it back down and repeat on the other side. Alternate three times per side, then add three push-Ups. Repeat this sequence until 35-seconds is up.

    Modification: Elevate the floor by performing the exercise on your kitchen counter or a sturdy coffee table.

    3. Lateral Lunge to Single-Leg Hop

    Begin by stepping the right foot to the right. Keeping the left leg straight, bend into the right knee, and sit the hips back and down. Come back up, step the right foot up, and hop on the left foot driving the right knee to the chest. Repeat for 35 seconds, then switch sides.

    Modification: Lose the hop.

    4. Side Plank Reach Through

    Begin in Side Plank, supporting your body weight on your left elbow and lifting the lower body off the ground. Ensure your shoulders, hips, knees, and ankles are stacked. Take your right arm straight to the sky. Bring your right arm down and reach it underneath the body, coming into a twist. Untwist and bring it back up to the sky. Complete 35 seconds and switch sides.

    Modification: Keep the bottom knee down.

    5. Single Leg Knee Drive

    Support your body weight on your right leg and extend your left leg to the side. Bend into the right knee and raise your arms. At the same time, bend your arms by your side and bring your left knee in towards your chest, then back out straight to the side. Continue with this motion until the 35 sec is complete, then switch sides. Move at a speed that is appropriate for your fitness level.

    Just Getting Started?

    It is normal to be intimidated by HIIT programs due to their intensity, but do not let that discourage you from trying it out.

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    If you begin slow and adjust the workout to your own fitness level, you will eventually reap the benefits. Begin by adding a few jog intervals if you are currently walking comfortably for 30 minutes at a steady pace. Walk two minutes, then jog for one alternating a few times until fatigue or for the remainder of the time.

    Once you feel ready, decrease the amount of walking. If staying home is more your jam, perform a strength exercise like push-ups followed by 30 seconds of jumping jacks.

    Don’t like to jump? Perform the same move. Only do a side step and lose the jump. Once you have built a baseline fitness level and are ready to take up your level, perform the workout above once per week.

    If you have been working out for longer than six months and have a solid baseline, add the below workout two to three times per week. You can also adjust the intensity by increasing the time to 45 seconds to one minute instead of 35 seconds, and keep the recovery to 20 to 30 seconds after each exercise and rest time per round to 30 to 40 seconds.

    Takeaways

    HIIT workouts at home are a great addition to your weekly programing to improve your fitness level and change your body composition. Adjusting the intensity as you improve will give you the confidence to continue.

    Listen to your body to understand what’s best for you, and know your limitations. The more consistent and committed you are to adding these workouts to your routine, the faster you will see results.

    More Workouts You Can Do at Home

    Featured photo credit: Olivia Bauso via unsplash.com

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