Starting your muscle-building journey can be an overwhelming endeavor. From training to nutrition, there are many things that can go wrong.
Luckily, there are also plenty of ways to avoid these mistakes and reach your goal. To help, we rounded up 5 Common Mistakes to Avoid When Building Muscle.
1. Not Eating Enough
Muscle growth requires a large enough calorie surplus to fuel your workouts and help your muscles recover. If you don’t eat enough to achieve this, you won’t build muscle and may actually gain fat instead. This is a common mistake that many beginners make.
While you should try to eat clean, it’s okay to include the occasional treat like ice cream or a burger (not too often, though). The key is to get most of your calories from whole foods like lean meats, nuts and seeds, complex carbohydrates, fruits and veggies, and healthy fats like avocadoes and olive oil. You should also try to drink enough water. Dehydration decreases exercise performance and can lead to muscle fatigue, so be sure to hydrate well before and after your workouts.
Another common mistake people make is not eating enough protein to build muscle. You should be getting at least 0.8 grams of protein per pound of body weight to ensure that you are consuming enough for muscle growth. This will help you to repair the small tears that are created when you train and will increase your recovery time between workouts.
Finally, many people don’t train their bodies in the best way to encourage muscle growth. They do too much cardio and don’t focus enough on strength training. Cardio burns fat but doesn’t develop muscles, so it’s not the most effective form of exercise for muscle building. Instead, focusing on high-intensity exercises that target fast-twitch muscle fibers can be extremely beneficial for building lean mass. This is another area where it can be very beneficial to seek the advice of a qualified gym instructor, personal trainer or exercise physiologist.
2. Not Getting Enough Sleep
While training is important for muscle growth, it’s equally important to get a good night’s sleep. The reason for this is that training breaks down your muscles, and when you sleep, it’s when your body regenerates them. If you don’t get enough rest, it will slow down your progress and can even lead to injury.
Most experts recommend adults get 7-9 hours of sleep each night to promote muscle growth. However, many people don’t regularly get this much sleep. Insufficient sleep reduces protein synthesis and human growth hormone release which are vital for muscle growth. It also decreases recovery after a workout.
To get the best results from your sleep, it’s a good idea to wake up at the same time every day so your body knows when to go into its resting mode. It’s also a good idea to avoid caffeine and alcohol before bed as these can interfere with your ability to fall asleep.
It’s recommended to get at least seven hours of deep sleep each night, which is known as stage three or slow-wave sleep. This stage of sleep is vital for muscle growth as it stimulates protein synthesis and cell repair. To maximize this stage, try to stay away from electronics and have a dark, quiet room.
In addition to getting a good night’s sleep, eating a diet that’s high in protein is also important for muscle building. In particular, it’s a good idea to eat plenty of lean proteins (like chicken and fish), vegetables, fruits, whole grains, and low-fat dairy. You should also try to avoid refined carbohydrates as these can have a negative impact on muscle building. Lastly, try to limit water intake as frequent urination can disturb your sleep.
3. Not Lifting Heavy Enough Weights
This is one of the most common mistakes beginners make when trying to build muscle. They lift a weight that is too light and end up not seeing results. It is important to lift heavy enough so that your muscles are pushed to the limit. This will help to stimulate muscle growth.
In addition to lifting heavy enough, it is also important to lift proper form. This will allow you to lift more weight and also ensure that you are not damaging your joints or tendons. It is also important to have a trusted friend or personal trainer watch your form to make sure you are using the correct technique.
Another mistake that many beginner lifters make is not resting properly between workouts. This can lead to sore muscles and may even hinder muscle growth. It is recommended to take a full day of rest between each workout. This will allow your muscles to recover and grow.
Finally, it is important to avoid overtraining. Overtraining can lead to serious injury and may prevent you from building muscle. Overtraining can be caused by training too often, not eating enough calories, or not recovering properly between workouts.
It is also important to avoid taking too many supplements when trying to build muscle. While supplements can be beneficial, they should be used as a supplement to your diet and training. It is also important to make sure you are getting enough protein when trying to build muscle. Protein is a key building block for muscles and can be found in foods such as meat, fish, poultry, eggs, nuts, and beans. It is also available in protein powders and shakes.
4. Not Working Out Correctly
If you are not performing exercises correctly, you will not be able to build muscle. It is not enough to simply hop in the gym and go through the motions, but rather you must have a plan in place that will guide your workout. For example, if you are trying to target your bicep muscles, it is important that you use a weight that is challenging but not too heavy. This is so that you can complete all your reps without being hindered by excessive fatigue.
It is also essential that you properly warm up before starting your lifting sessions. This will help to reduce your risk of injury. This can be done by hopping on a cardio machine and using lighter weights to get your joints moving before starting your working sets. It is also recommended that you take a minute or two of rest between each set. This will allow your muscles to recover so that you can perform the next set at a higher level of intensity.
In addition, it is essential to have a trainer or someone that you trust to watch and critique your form. This will help ensure that you are properly targeting your muscles and not engaging other parts of your body, such as your joints and tendons.
Finally, it is important to remember that muscle building is a slow process. It takes a lot of time and effort in the gym, as well as a balanced, protein-rich diet to see results. However, many people who train hard in the gym and eat plenty of healthy foods still struggle to gain muscle mass. This is often because they are making the above mistakes, which are hindering their progress.
5. Not Having a Plan
While being enthusiastic and determined is an important part of the muscle-building process, relying too much on motivation alone can actually be counterproductive. This is because motivation can cycle in and out, whereas discipline must remain constant.
Having a plan will help you stay on track with your goals and ensure that you are not making any of the above mistakes. A great way to get a workout plan is by downloading an app such as Alpha Progression, which will provide you with progression recommendations for every exercise you do at the gym!
A common mistake many people make is heading to the gym without a goal in mind. This usually results in them hitting every muscle group in their body with little to no progression. This will lead to them not getting the best possible results out of their workouts and could even lead to injury.
Another common mistake is eating too few calories while trying to gain muscle. Muscle building requires a surplus of calories for an extended period of time, so it is important to eat more than your maintenance levels. However, it is also important to eat the right types of calories. For example, avoid eating high-glycemic foods such as pasta, bread, sugary desserts, and fruit smoothies. Instead, focus on eating nutrient-dense foods such as whole grains, vegetables, lean protein, and healthy fats. In addition, nutritional supplements like protein powder are a must.
Finally, it is important to stretch at the end of your workout. Not only does this help prevent injuries, but it also helps start the recovery process. It is recommended to stretch for about 15-30 minutes after each workout. This will help you recover faster and ensure that your muscles are properly prepared for your next workout.