The Top 10 Muscle Building Mistakes To Avoid
By Lee Hayward
Good honest information about proper weight training and nutrition for building a lean muscular physique is harder to come by than ever before. The problem is information overload. These days we have so much information coming at us from fitness and diet guru's preaching about their latest breakthroughs on late night TV infomercials everyday. Hundreds, even thousands of exercise and nutrition books fill bookstore shelves. Dozens of magazines clutter the newsstands every month. And to top it all off there are new websites popping up everyday adding to this bog of misinformation at an exponential rate.
There is so much conflicting advice among so called industry professionals, dieticians, research scientists, doctors, trainers, that the average Joe and Jane just doesn’t know who to believe anymore. There are so many opinions out there and everyone seems to tell us something different.
This has left a lot of people frustrated and thoroughly confused. It's hard to know whom or what to believe anymore. So that’s why in this article I’m going to cover 10 of the most common mistakes people make when it comes to muscle building and provide some solid tips and advice that you can put to use right away to help move yourself in the right direction towards your muscle building goals.
Not Being Consistent With Your Workouts:
This is probably the single biggest factor that will determine your success or failure long term. If you are not consistent then it doesn’t matter if you have the most sophisticated scientifically designed workout program on earth, because it will be totally useless to you unless you actually follow it consistently.
A “half assed workout” routine that you follow consistently week after week will produce more real world muscle gains then the most perfectly planned out workout routine that you only follow occasionally.
Every time you complete a workout, you not only build your body, but you develop your character and self esteem. This makes you feel good about yourself and starts a positive upward spiral that reinforces you to be even more committed and more consistent.
Everything you do either helps you, or hurts you. Every single workout, every single meal, they all add up. Building a strong muscular physique is the cumulative result of hundreds of consistent workouts.
“Inch by inch, life’s a synch, yard by yard, life is hard”.
Making Excuses For Your Lack Of Progress:
When most people don’t get the results they want or when things don’t go the way they hoped, they immediately look for something to blame and start making excuses. Things like:
“I don’t have time to workout…”
“I have bad genetics…”
“My friends and family don’t support me…”
“I don’t have anyone to go to the gym with me…”
Generally, when people screw up and get off track, it’s always because of someone or something other then themselves. Blame the work schedule, blame the family, or blame the stupid training program that didn’t work.
Most people never even consider the fact that they themselves maybe the reason for their lack of progress. They play the victim and look for something to blame – they always think it’s someone or something outside of their control that is responsible.
Now, I’ll be right up front and honest… yes, some people do have genetic advantages, time schedule advantages, family support, etc. that helps when it comes to working out. However, with that being said… there are also a lot of people who are in a worse situation then you who have still achieved phenomenal results and have built an impressive muscular physique because they made the best of their situation and took responsibility for their own results.
A common trait among successful people is that they take responsibility for what ever happens to them, good or bad. By simply taking responsibility for your results you gain control over your life, and become the creator of circumstance rather than a victim of it.
It all comes down to your mindset. If you feel that you’re responsible for what happens and you don’t like your results, then you can take action and change things. But if feel that you are the victim and “it’s not your fault”, then there is nothing you can do and you are just going to have to settle for poor results and wallow in your own little pity party.
Comparing Yourself To Others:
When it comes to bodybuilding, there will always be people who are bigger, stronger, leaner, and more muscular then you. That’s just the way things are, regardless of what level you are at. There will always be people who are better, and on the other side of the coin, people who are worse.
Trying to be better then the next guy and always comparing yourself to others is just setting yourself up for disaster. By doing this you’ll never really be satisfied and you’ll never be able to truly appreciate your accomplishments.
Instead of worrying about what others are doing, focus on just improving yourself. Have a competition where you strive to beat your personal best. With your workouts strive to improve your personal best lifts from your previous workout. When tracking your bodyweight, bodyfat percentage, etc. focus on getting bigger and leaner then you were before. Measure your own progress and be proud of your accomplishments. Regardless of how you stack up compared to the other guys at the gym.
One of the most famous UCLA basketball coaches ever, John Wooden, always advised his players to: “Never try to be better than someone else; but never cease trying to be the best you can be.”
That’s good advice to follow regardless if you are playing ball, building muscle, or trying to accomplish any worthwhile goal for that matter.
Not Monitoring Your Progress:
So many people just go through the motions with their workouts with no real rhyme or reason for what they are doing. This happens a lot with older gym goers who have been working out for years, but it also can happen to younger lifters as well. They just get into the habit of showing up at the gym day after day and mindlessly go through their workouts doing what ever strikes their fancy.
How many people do you see at the gym with no training journal, no written plan, and no way to keep score to tell if they are making progress or not?
For a lot of these people going to the gym just becomes a part of their social life. Now I agree that this habit is a lot healthier then hanging out at the local pub, drinking pints, and playing darts. But with a little planning, the time you spend in the gym could be a lot more productive and result in building a lot more muscle… (and then you’ll actually look good when you go out to the pub :-)
What gets measured, gets improved… All it takes is little bit of time assessing where you are right now and planning out where you want to go (i.e. how much muscle do you want to build?) Then create a plan of action on how you are going to get there (i.e. a specific workout program and eating plan). Or get an experienced coach to help you create an action plan. Then you simply follow through with your plan and monitor your results. And make adjustments to your plan as needed so that you achieve the results you want.
The old saying “failing to plan, is planning to fail” is often overused, but it is 100% accurate, especially when it comes to bodybuilding.
Having Unrealistic Expectations:
No matter what the hyped up bodybuilding supplement advertisements say, you are not going to build a massive muscular physique in one month, especially if you are not in that great of shape to begin with. Nor will you be able to transform yourself from a soft pudgy couch potato to sporting a ripped buff beach body in the matter of weeks by popping a few diet pills or slugging down a magic muscle drink.
Keep your goals realistic. A new lifter expecting to bench press 315 pounds in his first month of working out is just flat out ridiculous. And likewise, an overweight person thinking that they’ll lose 50 lbs. within a few weeks of dieting is also absurd.
However, with patience, dedication, and a realistic training approach you will become stronger, leaner, and more muscular. When it comes to bodybuilding, most people “over-estimate” how hard it will be, and “under-estimate” how long it will take.
Changing your body composition, either in the way of building muscle mass, or burning bodyfat, takes time. You can’t rush things.
During a bulk up muscle building phase, you are on the right track if you’re gaining 1 pound of muscular bodyweight per week. Anymore then this and you’ll just be putting on excess bodyfat.
And when training for fat loss, you can realistically expect to lose at most 2 pounds of bodyfat per week. Anymore then this and you’ll be sacrificing lean muscle mass in the process.
At first this may seem like very slow progress. But keep in mind if you follow through consistently, those numbers add up quickly. And over the course of several months you can make some very impressive body composition changes and totally transform your physique.
The time is going to pass by anyway, so why not make the most of it and take the action steps necessary to build a leaner, stronger, more muscular body. So then in 6 months or a years time you can look back and be proud of your physique transformation. And then you’ll have all of your friends, family, and gym buddies looking at you in awe and wondering how you did it.
Performing Too Much Exercise… Overtraining:
Working out too much is just as detrimental to achieving your muscle building goals as doing nothing at all. Once you workout you have to give your body time to repair and build the muscles through rest. Then you repeat the process of working out and rest.
A common mistake that people make is thinking that they will get better results if they workout for several hours everyday. This is not true because what happens is the muscles get stressed and damaged but they don’t get a chance to recover and build up. This is what is called “over training”. When you over train your body can’t build muscle and you may even lose some of the muscle you have now.
Common signs of over-training include pain and joint injuries, insomnia, prolonged fatigue, lack of motivation to workout, and just feeling burnt out and exhausted. Taking time to rest and recover are vital for achieving long term consistent muscle and strength gains.
Performing Too Little Exercise… Under-training:
This one is the complete opposite of the previous one… people are famous for taking things to one extreme or the other, no one wants to take a moderate approach. It’s either all or none. The flawed thinking that “if some is good, then more is better” is the root of a lot of potential problems…
Just like some people will think that if some exercise is good, then more must be better. And end up “overtraining”. Others, who have learned about the negatives of overtraining, have taken it to the opposite extreme thinking that “if some rest is good, then more rest is better”.
In fact there is one “fitness guru” in particular who actually suggests that you only need to workout once a month to achieve great results… Now your common sense will tell you that nothing could be further from the truth. Seriously, just think about it… how many people do you know personally who have built a lean muscular body by working out once a month? I’ll save you the math… the answer is ZERO.
The fitness media will always play on people’s laziness and therefore try to promote “quick easy workouts” as the answer to getting in shape. But the reality is that working out and getting in shape takes time and effort. There is just no way around it. Anyone who try’s to tell you otherwise is just full of BS…
Thinking You Need Supplements To Build Muscle:
The bodybuilding magazines are the ones to blame for this misconception. In a typical magazine over 50% of the pages are advertising (in some cases it’s a lot more). And then a lot of the articles are actually fancy worded sales copy recommending various muscle building and fat burning supplements.
The fact of the matter is that every major bodybuilding magazine is affiliated with at least one supplement company. And there number one priority is NOT providing you with accurate training and nutrition information, but rather trying to convince you to buy their supplements.
The truth is supplements are NOT necessary to build a lean muscular physique. Exercise and nutrition are the only things you REALLY need. Now with that being said, there are some supplements can help the process along a little, but not nearly as much as you may have been lead to believe. About 95% of your results will come from proper training and nutrition. Supplements MAY help give you an extra 5% advantage at most.
But most people have their priorities backwards, and spend most of their time and effort worrying about what supplements to take, rather then focusing on perfecting their training and nutrition, which is responsible for 95% of their overall progress.
I see this all the time… the typical novice bodybuilder who hasn’t even been working out for a full month, doesn’t even know how to add up how many calories he is eating during the day, and then what does he do… he goes looking for a ‘short cut’ by going to the supplement store to get a bottle of “Super Duper Anabolic Muscle Dust 2000”.
Whether it’s winning the lottery or having the perfect body, we all want something for nothing. And it's a shame that so many people are looking for instant gratification, instead of making the effort to learn how to eat and train better. It makes no sense to "dive" into supplements in hopes of finding an easier way. Get your nutrition and training in order first. Then you can experiment with supplements, if you want to, and see if they make any difference to your overall progress.
Not Following A Sound Nutrition Plan:
Your diet is without a doubt one of the most critical aspects of your muscle building routine. You can be spot on with your workouts, but if you don’t fuel your body properly you will NOT get the results you want. Period!
Most bodybuilding enthusiasts that I deal with day to day don’t have any problems going to the gym and working out, in fact most of them really enjoy it, and consider their workouts as time well spent. But more often then not they get slack when it comes to nutrition.
The whole idea of eating 6 well-balanced meals per day for bodybuilding is by no means a new concept. Most of you who are reading this probably already have a good idea of how you should be eating. But for the majority of people the main excuse is they don't have the time to eat properly.
But this is just not the case. Eating a “junk-food” diet takes just as much or more time then it does to eat a healthy diet. At lunch time getting in your car and heading on over to the fast food joint, waiting in line at the drive through, and then heading back to work takes a lot more time then if you had your food prepared in advance and ready to eat.
The key to successfully following a healthy bodybuilding nutrition program is planning ahead. When you cook your food always prepare for several meals. It doesn’t take any more time to cook larger quantities of food then it does to cook smaller amounts of food for just one meal. Purposely plan to have left overs that you can re-heat in the microwave, this saves time and makes it easier to have quick nutritious meals on hand.
Some people just never quit. They are determined, persistent, and they never let go of their goals. Other people give up at the first obstacle they encounter. Did you ever wonder why that is? There is a reason…
People who bail out and quit just because they tried something and it didn’t work consider it a permanent failure. But all they need is a little change of mindset.
Success coach Anthony Robbins has a great concept for achieving success: “there is no such a thing as failure; only results”. By reframing all your experiences as simply results, rather then successes or failures, you are in control.
Every time you try something you will get a result. If it is not the result you want, then just re-evaluate your approach, and try something else. Learn from your experiences, and just keep trying until you get the result you are after.
People who see obstacles as just a temporary thing and learn from their experiences are the ones who never quit. If you learn from your past experiences and never quit, then by default you will eventually succeed.
It really is this simple… But it is still going to take work on your part. You may have to try dozens of different approaches to working out, different eating plans, etc. and it could take months, or even years, to build the strong muscular physique that you desire. But trust me, when you get there, the results will be well worth it. You’ll be the one that the quitters are all talking about behind your back saying “isn’t he lucky”.
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