I’m going to share with you my BIGGEST Muscle Building MISTAKES I made.
I spent years going through trial and error, developing the most effective way of building lean muscle mass.
Along my journey I made many mistakes, that cost me some serious muscle building time!
These mistakes can leave you staying FAT , WEAK , SMALL!
LET’S REWIND A FEW YEARS
I was what many call Skinny-Fat for most of my past life.
I consider Skinny- fat one of the worst genetically muscle building positions you can find yourself in.
When you’re Skinny-Fat you have multiple things working against you genetically.
Ex: Small Bone Structure, Small Chest, Skinny legs, Skinny arms, and all your fat is centered around your main organs.
The Skinny-Fat genetic make up is a death sentence if not taken care of properly at an early stage in life.
Sure you look okay when you’re clothed but the minute the shirt comes off you feel the insecurity rising!
For almost 5 years, I bounced from one muscle building article to another… spent hours in the gym every week… wasted hundreds of dollars per month on supplements … and this is what it got me!
My Skinny-Fat Physique
At this point I had contemplated giving up many times, if you cant tell from my overly excited face!
I was always telling myself the same excuses.
“It my genetics”, “I’m not meant for muscle”, or “All the other guys must be on Steroid’s”.
I went through the motions at the gym like a repetitive little robot, hoping to just slightly resemble I worked out.
Like I have said many times before ,“Hoping rarely gets you the body you want.”
Turns out there was some ugly truth to my routine…
It turns out I was wrong about many things when it came to building LEAN muscle mass effectively.
To be completely honest, I was making some of the worst (and most common) muscle building mistakes out there, and once I started doing things the right way, everything changed, completely .
Let me explain:
I made this transformation with less time in the gym, doing less cardio , without endless high rep volume , and eating the foods I love!
Some say impossible and I all I can tell you is they’re people who know and people who don’t know.
When you know what mistakes to prevent from making, I promise you they can unleash your genetic potential.
Mistake # 1: Tracking Calories was Not Necessary
In short my situation was as follows:
- I had just about everything wrong when it came to my nutritional dieting habits.
- I looked for easy “quick fix” diets or followed low carbohydrate high fat trends.
- Proteins shakes were consumed a minimum of 3 times a day.
- Eating at least six times a day was required.
- I believed endless amounts of protein was needed.
- The very thought of eating carbs late at night was absurd!
- Having dinner or drinks with friends was out of the question
As you can see life was rather boring and even with being strict, I was lacking real results.
Here’s the thing:
If one wishes to lose weight they must burn more calories than they consume.
If one wishes to gain weight the must consume more calories than they burn.
This is the basic Laws of Thermodynamics and scientifically backed up.
Don’t get me wrong many things can still effect weight fluctuations in individuals:
- Genetics has a huge influence on our weight and body type.
- Major changes in metabolism
Regardless evidence suggests that long term weight loss is possible through lifestyle changes.
So tracking dietary progress is undoubtedly going to increase your rate of success.
I did not have any idea how many calories I was consuming on a daily basis.
I would just eat a bunch of “Healthy foods” like chicken, brown rice, and broccoli, and hopes I would build the body of my dreams.
And here is where it landed me!
Over weight and undefined with no calculation on how many calories I was consuming every day.
Again when is comes to building the body you have always wanted, hoping seldom works!
Eating 6 times a day every 2-3 hrs was a must and if I didn’t I was missing out on some serious muscle growth!
I thought at one point carbs were the devil, so I cut them out, looking for some way to cheat the system and sling shot my way to Muscle building success.
Ridiculous and unsustainable diets like low carb only set you up for failure.
Food is much more simple!
Building muscle efficiently requires you give your body a little more energy (calories) than it requires.
All one has to do is hit their set calorie target and make sure protein, carbs, and fats are hit relatively close for MAX Muscle Growth to happen. (see setting calories for muscle growth here)
When and how many times you decide to eat have no correlation with the amount of muscle your going to develop.
This is totally subject to an individuals personal needs and wants.
For example: If you want to eat 2 times a day which I do ( see my Modest Muscle Building Diet here) you can and if you choose to eat six times a day feel free too.
The main point is to hit your over all calorie target and stay relatively close to your macro targets.
Mistake # 2 Spending Hours in Gym
For a long time I spent hours in the gym performing high volume workouts .
I would do 4 to 5 sets with 10-15 reps each for each muscle group.
Its not that this style of training didn’t grow my muscles at all , it was the rate at which my muscles grew and this was slim to none.
This is great if you want to feel the burn and leave the gym with a “pump” we all know off.
Though this style of training is not ideal for big, dense, and defined muscles.
Sure high volume training has its place but to focus the core of your lifting routine around high volume training hinders your muscle building potential greatly!
I found focusing on moderate volume and lifting heavier weight was ideal for max muscle growth.
The sweet spot I find to be most effective is between 6-10 reps and can be best utilized through reverse pyramid training. (see my article here on RPT )
This rep range is an incredibly effective way to trigger both myofibrillar and sarcoplasmic hypertrophy, resulting in a perfect balance of lean ,dense and muscular proportions.
Neglecting the basics…
Big Basic compound lifts should be the core of your muscle building routine.
It took me a long time to learn this one but when I did it was a game changer.
The big compound lifts I speak of are your classic movements:
- Incline bench press
- Standing military press
- Bench press
- dead lifts
These basic movements should get the most intention above anything else in your weight lifting routine.
I am not saying machines and isolation work is not effective at all.
Though when it comes to building a strong and powerful physique these compound movements are crucial.
You see compound lifts wok multiple muscle groups and tendons simultaneously, producing the fastest and greatest results for muscle growth.
I wasted a lot of time thinking if I put focus on my “glamour muscles” a.k.a arms, they would grow faster!
High rep single arm dumbbell and isolation machines for arms can take away valuable time from compound lifts.
Instead worry about dead lifting 300 lbs for 6 reps. This will train your abs, legs, back , arms , and chest all with one single movement.
You see most of us have busy schedules and we try to be efficient with out time.
Working out should be the same philosophy.
Get in , focus on whats important , kick ass and get out!
When I put my focus of my work out into compound lifts results were staggering !
My time spent in the gym was cut to almost nothing and my return results for muscle growth tripled in half the time!
Mistake # 3 Not Tracking KEY lifts
I learned compound lifts produced the greatest muscle building results but their was still something holding me back.
It was not until I started tracking and recording my compound lifts that the real magic started to happen!
You see every workout should have a few KEY lifts you should be focused on getting stronger at.
- bench press
- dead lift
Just like you should be tracking your calories , its also imperative to track your strength progress!
This might be the single most important advice I could give someone if only allowed to share one thing.
Keep record of your strength progress and track your progress week to week!
I used to think the best way to stimulate muscle growth was “muscle confusion”, changing up my workouts frequently.
I was totally wrong and went for all the gimmicks like P90x preaching muscle confusion.
Yeah those are great for toning & cardiovascular work but the idea is to stimulate max muscle growth!
What I learned is the answer to building bigger, stronger muscles is not wasting valuable time on countless isolation exercises, but is simply progressively overloading the muscles on KEY lifts.
“Progressive overload” refers to progressively lifting heavier and heavier weights over time. (see my article Secret Sauce to Muscle Development)
Muscles can get stronger by simply going to the gym and moving weight but at some point in order for them to grow BIGGER you need to increase your strength.
Your goal should be progressing week to week on your compound movements.
For example, if you’re training to 4-6 reps on your first set for week 1 and hit 6. your goal for week 2 should be to increase the weight on the bar.
You would stick with this new weight until you hit the goal of 6 on your first set before increasing the weight again.
This will add heavier and heavier weights to your training routine for max muscle growth.
Mistake # 5 Have a Plan
This correlates to my last mistake of not tracking my KEY lifts.
I used to go to the gym with just a rough idea of what I was going to do that day.
I can not stress how much of a time waster this mistake is.
Not only was I wasting time but I had no structure to my routine.
How can one expect to build powerful looking muscles when they do not even know what movements they lifted last week because they didn’t write down their routine?????
This sounds so simple but if you take the time to look around or listen to people talking in the gym you here the same things being said.
“Hey man , what are you on today?” “ohhh maybe some chest and a little triceps”
You see without a proper strength building plan you can not expect to build a powerful looking body.
One should know their whole workout before they even make it to the gym.
This allows you to record your Key lifts, which your workouts should be focused around .
With a structured plan you now have goals to reach each week.
The only way to systematically do this is to log what you do in the gym each week, and use these records to guide your future workouts.
There is no more hoping for the body of your dreams when you have a plan of action that is strategically and scientifically proven to build muscle.
These are just my few of my mistakes and the ones I find most important,
There was many more muscle building mistakes I made along the way:
- Picking the right split routine.
- Deciding which muscle groups to focus on.
- Dialing in my macros.
- Proper form when training.
- Doing to much cardio.