When it comes to training , building lean muscle specifically, they’re many muscle building mistakes that can be made.
Unfortunately most people learn these mistakes through trail and error and this can waste your valuable muscle building time!
I am going to get straight to the point here and give you my top 10 Muscle Building Mistakes.
The idea here is to save you wasted time and frustration so you can maximize your gains.
Muscle Building Mistake #1
Too Much High Intensity Cardio
If your main goal is to build muscle you cannot go all in on high intensity cardio. This goes for all forms of high intensity cardio. HIIT cardio , fasted cardio and any time of the day cardio. If your cardio sessions are to hard , the body cannot recover fully from both cardio sessions and weight lifting sessions.
This is two different pathways for two separate goals. You cannot be a Olympic triathlon and be a Olympic Bodybuilder at the same time, the two don’t mix.
The best form of cardio you can do while building muscle is walking or steady jogging two- three times per week for 30-45 mins.
Muscle Building Mistake #2
Not Eating Daily Calorie Target
I tend to get this message all the time. “I’m not gaining any weight , I must be a hard gainer.” Then I start working with the client and checking in with them daily for calorie intake. 99% of the time people aren’t eating enough food, consistently ever day for muscle gains. You must figure out your required calories for building muscle and you must track it daily to reach your goal. This can take some trial and error to figure out . See my article here on how to properly track calories.
Muscle Building Mistake #3
Drinking/Partying too often
Listen, I am not here to lecture you on what you like to do for fun. I like a drink and socializing just as much as the next person. What you have to watch out for is parting too often. Living a healthy lifestyle is about balance. Without balancing your going out time , you will never reach you muscle building goals. Going out to party will effect many things when it comes to your health and building muscle.
- Staying up late – this effects quality of sleep and recovering.
- Drinking leads to binge eating- you will go over calorie target
This is a no brainier but if you do like to drink read my articles here on how to drink and build muscle.
Muscle Building Mistake #4
What does this mean exactly?
If you’re staying up late and getting up too early every day then you’re not getting proper sleep for training with weights. A good example of this is Gamer’s , they love to stay up late and game late into the night with their fellow gamers. Another popular example is binge watching Netflix late at night. You have to fix this if you want to build muscle , the body recovers during sleep.
Ways to help sleep
- Take some cannabis ( if its legal in your area)
- Find a sleep supplement with melatonin
- take the supplement ashwagandha
- read a book
- watch a documentary ( a boring one )
- Work out in the evening
Whatever it is you need to do even if you need to consult with your doctor , getting proper sleep is crucial for building muscle and overall health in general.
Muscle Building Mistake #5
Holding Back in Gym
When it comes to training with weights you don’t need to hit the gym 7 days a week for results . What you do need for maximizing muscle gains is INTENSITY. You can gain results from training just 2 days to 3 days a week in the gym with true results. The KEY is lifting with HIGH intensity. This means giving it your all on every set. I am not saying max our every day but your last 1-2 reps per set need to be challenging.
Most people stop their sets with too many reps left in them. Every set should end with only 1-2 reps left in your reserves per set. This goes for major compound lifts like bench press and deadlifts. For isolation exercises you can go to failure if you want. This would be exercises like lat pull downs or leg extensions. You’re not going to hurt yourself going to failure on a machine isolated for just one muscle group.
Muscle Building Mistake #6
High reps is best for gains
Many people message me all the time saying, ” I only feel like I get a good workout if I do high reps”. This feeling you receive of burning and tight muscle is called Chasing The Pump , you can ready my article here on it. The feeling is just a result of blood/lactic acid flowing to the muscles and swelling up , resulting in tighter muscles for the time being. The result can be quite stunning if your are lean , muscles will pop out and veins will cross your chest and biceps like a road map. This look will go away just a few minutes after your workout though, it is shortly lived. Higher reps does have it place when strategically used but should never be the cornerstone of you program for building max muscle.
If you’re lifting with HIGH intensity like mentioned in mistake 5, low to moderate volume works great for building muscle. A great example of this is Reverse Pyramid Training , you can read my article here on it. Just sticking to a rep rand between 6-10 will build muscle when lifting consistently with high intensity.
High Volume and lifting to failure does have place for building muscle but it needs to be done strategically( see article here). Too much high volume can turn into cardio training rather than strength training. Isolation exercises can be great for high volume- This will reduce the risk of injury while still getting the benefits of the pump.
Muscle Building Mistake #7
Bulking Up/Getting Fat
I see this Mistake all the time. Many people think you need to get really fat and eat a super amount of food to build muscle. This couldn’t be further from the truth. In fact all that is needed is a slight calorie surplus over your maintenance calories ( article here on calories for bulk).
A proper lean bulk should keep you looking relatively lean year round without getting fat. You can review my article here on how to stay lean year round while building muscle. There is no reason anyone needs to yo- yo diet up and down every year from enormous amounts of weight gain. This will only lead to frustration a slow down muscle building progress. Instead focus on building strength with progressive overload and just eating slightly over maintenance.
Muscle Building Mistake #8
Lifting With Your EGO
Many newbie lifters are guilty of lifting with their egos. What does this mean? lifting to their max or with a weight that destroys their good form. If you’re lifting too heavy 1. You’re going to hurt yourself. 2. Form is going to go too shit. 3. Muscle group imbalances can start to occur from bad form. ( example curling with rounded shoulders from too heavy weights) 4. Too little of reps for building any muscle.
If you’re lifting with a proper weight you should be able to keep good form up until the last rep or two, Lifting with the proper weight amount will allow you to hit the rep ranges of 6-10 for building muscle.
Lower the weight , focus on the muscle group you’re working and slow down.
Muscle Building Mistake #9
Taking short rest breaks
If you can do a set of 15 reps and rest for 60 seconds and then perform another 2-3 sets like this you’re not training for max muscle. Instead you’re doing cardio and warm up sets at best! When you lift a weight that is challenging with high intensity for 6-10 reps , you will need a lot more rest. How much rest ? Anywhere from 2-3 minutes, maybe even longer for some. In between your sets you should feel like you just got done running sprints. You need the time to recover to lift with high intensity for the next set and so on. This is training for strength and muscle.
Up the intensity and take longer breaks so each set you’re going hard.
Muscle Building Mistake #10
You have to be in a constant calorie surplus to build muscle
Lots of people think its one or the other when it come to building muscle or fat loss. You can build muscle in a calorie deficit as well. This works better for beginners and it is how you build a solid foundation if you’re a beginner with some fat a little muscle.
Advanced lifters can benefit from building muscle and burning fat at the same time. This is body re-composition and takes some manipulation of calorie intake. Eating this way works great for lifters who have neared their genetic potential. This is because proper lean bulking is no longer going to benefit advanced lifters, the rate of muscle growth is now too slow for a consistent calorie surplus. Here is an example of how and advance lifter could eat for body recomp.
• Rest Days (4x per week) -‐300 calories under maintenance
• Lifting Days (3x per week) +400 calories over maintenance
Weekly Calorie Surplus = 0
At the end of the week you will have eaten very close to maintenance but it is likely you will have improved your body composition (more muscle and less fat).
Skinny Fat Bodies can also benefit from eating this way. Their bodies can be frustrating , they want to loose the belly but at the same time not get too skinny in the process. This can be a strategic way to eat in order to achieve that goal but does take planing and consistency.
Is this all The Muscle Building Mistakes ?
No. They’re many other muscle building mistakes and you will come across these muscle building mistakes with time. Here is another article I wrote on muscle building mistakes. My goal here was to inform you of my top mistakes I made and that many others make. Keep on learning and progressing every week and you will reach your goals. This takes time , never get obsessed with the end result and enjoy the ride.
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