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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 August 12, 2019

12 Best Foods That Improve Memory and Brain Health

12 Best Foods That Improve Memory and Brain Health

Nutrition plays a vital role in brain function and staying sharp into the golden years. Personally, my husband is going through medical school, which is like a daily mental marathon. Like any good wife, I am always looking for things that will boost his memory fortitude so he does his best in school.

But you don’t have to be a med student to appreciate better brainiac brilliance. If you combine certain foods with good hydration, proper sleep and exercise, you may just rival Einstein and have a great memory in no time.

I’m going to reveal the list of foods coming out of the kitchen that can improve your memory and make you smarter.

Here are 12 best brain foods that improve memory and brain power:

1. Nuts

The American Journal of Epidemiology published a study linking higher intakes of vitamin E with the prevention on cognitive decline.[1]

Nuts like walnuts and almonds (along with other great foods like avocados) are a great source of vitamin E.

Cashews and sunflower seeds also contain an amino acid that reduces stress by boosting serotonin levels.

Walnuts even resemble the brain, just in case you forget the correlation, and are a great source of omega 3 fatty acids, which also improve your mental magnitude.

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2. Blueberries

Shown in studies at Tuffs University to benefit both short-term memory and coordination, blueberries pack quite a punch in a tiny blue package.[2]

When compared to other fruits and veggies, blueberries were found to have the highest amount of antioxidants (especially flavonoids), but strawberries, raspberries, and blackberries are also full of brain benefits.

3. Tomatoes

Tomatoes are packed full of the antioxidant lycopene, which has shown to help protect against free-radical damage most notably seen in dementia patients.

4. Broccoli

While all green veggies are important and rich in antioxidants and vitamin C, broccoli is a superfood even among these healthy choices.

Since your brain uses so much fuel (it’s only 3% of your body weight but uses up to 17% of your energy), it is more vulnerable to free-radical damage and antioxidants help eliminate this threat.

Broccoli is packed full of antioxidants, is well-known as a powerful cancer fighter and is also full of vitamin K, which is known to enhance cognitive function.

5. Foods Rich in Essential Fatty Acids

Your brain is the fattest organ (not counting the skin) in the human body, and is composed of 60% fat. That means that your brain needs essential fatty acids like DHA and EPA to repair and build up synapses associated with memory.

The body does not naturally produce essential fatty acids so we must get them in our diet.

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Eggs, flax, and oily fish like salmon, sardines, mackerel and herring are great natural sources of these powerful fatty acids. Eggs also contain choline, which is a necessary building block for the neurotransmitter acetylcholine, to help you recall information and concentrate.

6. Soy

Soy, along with many other whole foods mentioned here, are full of proteins that trigger neurotransmitters associated with memory.

Soy protein isolate is a concentrated form of the protein that can be found in powder, liquid, or supplement form.

Soy is valuable for improving memory and mental flexibility, so pour soy milk over your cereal and enjoy the benefits.

7. Dark Chocolate

When it comes to chocolate, the darker the better. Try to aim for at least 70% cocoa. This yummy desert is rich in flavanol antioxidants which increase blood flow to the brain and shield brain cells from aging.

Take a look at this article if you want to know more benefits of dark chocolate: 15 Surprising and Science-Backed Health Effects of Dark Chocolate

8. Foods Rich in Vitamins: B vitamins, Folic Acid, Iron

Some great foods to obtain brain-boosting B vitamins, folic acid and iron are kale, chard, spinach and other dark leafy greens.

B6, B12 and folic acid can reduce levels of homocysteine in the blood. Homocysteine increases are found in patients with cognitive impairment like Alzheimer’s, and high risk of stroke.

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Studies showed when a group of elderly patients with mild cognitive impairment were given high doses of B6, B12, and folic acid, there was significant reduction in brain shrinkage compared to a similar placebo group.[3]

Other sources of B vitamins are liver, eggs, soybeans, lentils and green beans. Iron also helps accelerate brain function by carrying oxygen. If your brain doesn’t get enough oxygen, it can slow down and people can experience difficulty concentrating, diminished intellect, and a shorter attention span.

To get more iron in your diet, eat lean meats, beans, and iron-fortified cereals. Vitamin C helps in iron absorption, so don’t forget the fruits!

9. Foods Rich in Zinc

Zinc has constantly demonstrated its importance as a powerful nutrient in memory building and thinking. This mineral regulates communications between neurons and the hippocampus.

Zinc is deposited within nerve cells, with the highest concentrations found in the hippocampus, the part of the brain responsible for higher learning function and memory.

Some great sources of zinc are pumpkin seeds, liver, nuts, and peas.

10. Gingko Biloba

This herb has been utilized for centuries in eastern culture and is best known for its memory boosting brawn.

It can increase blood flow in the brain by dilating vessels, increasing oxygen supply and removing free radicals.

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However, don’t expect results overnight: this may take a few weeks to build up in your system before you see improvements.

11. Green and Black Tea

Studies have shown that both green and black tea prevent the breakdown of acetylcholine—a key chemical involved in memory and lacking in Alzheimer’s patients.

Both teas appear to have the same affect on Alzheimer’s disease as many drugs utilized to combat the illness, but green tea wins out as its affects last a full week versus black tea which only lasts the day.

Find out more about green tea here: 11 Health Benefits of Green Tea (+ How to Drink It for Maximum Benefits)

12. Sage and Rosemary

Both of these powerful herbs have been shown to increase memory and mental clarity, and alleviate mental fatigue in studies.

Try to enjoy these savory herbs in your favorite dishes.

When it comes to mental magnitude, eating smart can really make you smarter. Try to implement more of these readily available nutrients and see just how brainy you can be!

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Featured photo credit: Pexels via pexels.com

Reference

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