9 mistakes that keep you from building muscle
Nobody’s perfect and that’s ok. Making mistakes it’s ok and it’s a part of the learning curve of anything you do in life whether it’s your job, your own business or fitness. But instead of learning from your own mistakes (which most people including myself usually do), why not learning from other people’s mistakes when they were in the exact same position you are now?
In today’s post I am going to tell you about the mistakes that I made in the first year of my weight training so that you will not have to do them as well. You know I’m all about helping you out to making more gains so keep on reading my friend. Here it is. I hope I am not forgetting anything important.
1. Too much cardio
I started training as an overweight guy at 230 lbs. (6 feet tall), so my main concern and primary target was to slim down to a healthy and more comfortable weight. Having this goal in mind, half of the time and effort was going into my cardio training, which eventually left me with too little time for hitting the weights.
Even though I got down to less than 200 lbs. with cardio, my muscles were not getting that much bigger because cardio was sucking in a lot of my energy and time. This was frustrating since getting muscular was also a goal of mine.
Anyways, after a couple of months I started to notice that cardio wasn’t really helping me to lose more weight, and I finally decided it started to become a waste of time and stopped doing it. A the moment I was doing cardio 4-5 days a week and my guess is that my body got used to it eventually and all the running, incline walking and cycling.
Long story short overdoing cardio negatively affected my weight lifting training, and in a couple of months’ time, my body adapted to my cardio routine and I wasn’t seeing that much weight loss. In the end the cardio just didn’t worth the time and effort for me.
Undertraining is a direct consequence of putting too much of my time and effort into the cardio training and I already covered most of it above. If I was to start it all over again I would put much more effort into my weight training and less in my cardio.
Weight training is a great way of losing fat as well; you just need to do it high volume and high intensity. I am now doing cardio just once a week and almost doubled my weight training volume and I am still losing fat and building muscle at the same time.
Not eating enough was another mistake that killed my gains in the beginning. I was eating as little as 1,600 – 1,700 kcal a day when I could probably have ate 2,000 kcal and still be in a deficit. The reason I was eating so little was not because I was not hungry but because I was afraid of getting fat again.
Staying in a deficit worked great for my weight loss but it didn’t help muscle growth at all. Your first couple of years of training are when you are going to build half of the muscles you can build in your entire life, so don’t mess things up by not eating enough. I am not telling you to eat whatever you want, you still need to eat all the right stuff, but get in the calories and macros your body needs to grow.
4. Ego lifting
This is not a mistake that I made really, because at my gym in the morning there is nobody around to impress :). But lifting heavy weights just to impress the people around you is a mistake that many beginners do, so I decided to include it on this post. It’s a stupid mistake and will get you injured in no time.
Use weights that allow you to perform at least 5-6 correct reps. Focus on the form, feel the muscles working and you will make your way to higher weights. I know that hitting the incline bench press with 65 pounds looks funny, but hey if that’s where you at, that’s what you have to do.
5. Got myself an exertion headache
I discussed about this in detail in an older article. Long story short, exertion headaches are really sharp and intense pains inside your head which occurs during or right after weight training, usually when you push yourself too much and when you don’t have proper head/neck position and poor hydration.
These can be very serious and sometimes you can’t get rid of them completely. Luckily, that wasn’t the case for me. Read more about my experience with exertion headaches here.
6. Messing up my diet over the weekends
My nutrition was spot on through the work days, but man I was screwing things up bad over the weekends. I still go off track here and there on the weekends (which are rest days for me) but I manage it better now.
Consistency is the key to success in many areas and nutrition is no exception. Have your meals planed ahead as much as possible. This way you will avoid eating junk that should not be in your diet.
7. Not supplementing earlier
I started taking creatine monohydrate just one month ago and I am super excited and pleased with the results. My only regret is that I did not start to take it earlier. Creatine is one of the old school supplements out there, it has been subject to many test are studies and there is no risk of using it.
Benefits of supplementing with creatine include increase in strength, energy and muscle size. I take it 5 grams each day (training are rest days) and I don’t cycle it. You can take it at any time of the day you want, it doesn’t matter.
For more information and bro science about creatine monohydrate go ahead and check out this website right here. The only thing I don’t really like about it is that it’s not very water soluble.
8. Listening to others
I did a lot of research when I started going to the gym, read a lot of articles and studies, watched a ton of videos on Youtube trying to learn what other people with great physiques did in the gym and started to copy them.
I didn’t do squats or deadlifts because the Hodge twins were not doing them, then I trained with high volume because Chris Jones was doing it.
This was wrong. This may sound like I’m a hypocrite telling you not to listen to what others are teaching you and on the other I am giving tips on how to eat and train better for a better life and a better physique.
What I want to say is that you do not need to follow word by word what other fitness professionals are saying or doing. Use their tips and advices as guidelines not as rules. Listen to your body instead and adjust your training to what your body is telling you to do. What may work for you might not work for others.
9. Wrong mindset
One mistake than many people do when they start lifting, is not staying focused on their task and not creating that mind-muscle connection that you hear everybody talking about. When you are in the gym your mind should be in the gym as well.
Go at any gym and you will see many people doing bicep curls while looking out the window or talking with their friend about the movie they saw last night.
The lack focus will affect your training in a bad way. Try to concentrate on the exercise that you are doing, on the movements that your body makes, try to get your mind inside the muscle as you are squeezing it during each rep and set that you do. Focus on the tension, feel the muscle doing the work. Believe it or not this will have an impact on your training and it will stimulate the muscles to work harder.
The same goes for your resting periods between the sets. Don’t ruin your concentration by making phone calls or logging on Facebook when you are resting. Continue to stay ‘in the mood’, thinking about the next set that you are about to do.
As you can see the list is quite big already, yet I’m sure if I’ll revisit it one year from now it will double up with new mistakes that I will make from now on. What’s your take on this? Do you find yourself doing the same mistakes or maybe others?
Looking forward to seeing your comments below and stay tuned for more content.