“Strong is the new skinny.” The world seems to have traded in those waif-thin models and a “slim” ideal for a toned and muscular body, where living a health and active lifestyle is essential for obtaining a fit-looking physique.
Determined to achieve this new ideal, many people find themselves spending countless hours at the gym and consuming every type of supplement in the books. After all, by doing this you can gain some serious muscle, right?
Wrong. In fact, this is just one of the most most common muscle-building mistakes people make.
Have you been going to the gym for some time now and still not seeing results? No matter what you do, are you still not gaining the muscle mass you would expect?
Here are eight of the most common muscle-building mistakes that could be preventing you from making gains.
1. Your Macros Are All Wrong
Diet and macronutrient intake is extremely important when trying to transform your body. No matter how much exercise you do, if your diet is garbage, you will not see your desired results. When trying to gain muscle mass, you will want to consider what your caloric needs are.
You must be at a calorie surplus (eat more than you burn) in order to gain muscle mass. The opposite happens when in calorie deficit (eat less than you burn), you will loose fat, and unfortunately muscle, too.
Apart from the total calorie-count being crucial to gaining muscle, the macronutrient (protein, carbs and fats) ratio is just as important. A person eating 20 per cent protein, 70 per cent carbs and 10 per cent fats of their caloric needs, will not achieve the same result as someone eating 30 per cent protein, 50 per cent carbs and 20 per cent fats of their caloric needs.
Although there isn’t a fixed macronutrient ratio for building muscle, you can start by using the following and adjust as your body reacts to the change.
- Protein: 25 to 35 per cent
- Carbs: 40 to 45 per cent
- Fats: 15 to 25 per cent
2. You’re Taking Too Many Supplements
Supplements are just what the name suggests. They are supposed to “supplement” or add nutritional value in the areas where we lack. The mistake happens when we start to rely solely on these and neglect proper eating habits from natural sources.
Also Read: The Dark Side Of Pre-Workout Supplements
Instead of spending hundreds of dollars on overhyped products, invest in a large variety of healthy, fresh and natural foods and watch your body thrive.
3. Your Technique Is Way Off
I know it’s easy to think that the heavier we lift, the stronger and more muscular our bodies will become. However, this is probably one of the most common mistakes of all. Form and technique simply do not get the attention and time they deserve, specially when all the body builders around us at the gym, seem to be lifting an insane amount of weight. Avoid being overly concerned with how much weight you can personally lift. Instead focus on properly cueing the working muscles and feel the contraction. Train smarter, and do not sacrifice form and risk being injured. As you get progressively stronger and more effective in your lifts, you will be able to increase your weights and make some serious muscle gains.
Consider the following during your weight training session:
Warm Up: I recommend a high rep warm up set of 20 to 25 repetitions.
Sets: 3 to 4 sets depending on the type and complexity of the exercise.
Reps: Keep your repetition on the lower-end count for muscle development such as 8 to 10 repetitions, always maintaining proper form.
*If you can’t keep good form during your last few reps, reduce and adjust the weight accordingly.
4. You’re Overtraining
Did you know that the “growth” hormone gets released when we rest and sleep? The whole idea behind “no days off” or “no pain, no gain” has obscured and confused many when trying to gain muscle. Although it’s admirable when I see a determined goal-oriented individual, the truth is, they may be in fact reducing their potential to make gains.
Also Read: What Is Adrenal Fatigue?
Don’t be fooled by these myths. Avoid adrenal fatigue and make sure you are getting ample sleep and rest which will allow you to benefit from supercompensation or come out stronger to your next lifting session.
5. Your Range Of Motion Is Limited
A big mistake when training is not utilizing our muscle fibres to their full potential by limiting our range of motion. If you find yourself shortening your range so you can go heavier, or because your don’t want to lose continual muscle contraction; stop. The truth is, when you limit your range of motion during an exercise, the less muscle activation and muscle recruitment is being used. The less muscle activation happening, the less you rip, tear and grow.
Next time you are at the gym, be conscious of using full ROM and increase your efficiency of movement.
6. You’re Inconsistent
If there is one piece of advice that will be extremely useful when getting in shape is that “consistency is the key for success.” Define your objective and establish a healthy lifestyle that will allow you to have balance in all aspects of your life. Have patience. Gaining muscle and toning your body isn’t easy. It requires a lot of time and discipline. Give yourself a few months for your body to reward your consistency. These results are what will motivate you to keep going.
7. You Do Too Much Cardio
Even though cardiovascular activity is very important for our health, the frequency, the intensity and the length of time you spend performing it will affect your strength training workouts. Simply put, too much cardio will place your body under a lower caloric or energy count which plays a major role in building new muscle mass. Does this mean that cardio is off limits when trying to make gains? Absolutely not! But instead of running for long periods of time, try intervals. This means short bursts of high intensity runs or compound movements with a brief recover period.
Although, we all have different body types and some people can tolerate more cardio training than others without risking muscle development potential, a good rule of thumb is to perform cardio no more than 3 times a week for a duration of 15 to 20 minutes.
Also Read: 7 Cardio Myths To Stop Believing
8. You Don’t Incorporate Compound Exercises
Without doubt, the majority of exercises generate a great deal of benefits for your body. However, when we want to focus on building muscle mass, we must concentrate on exercises that work with that objective. A common error is focusing on isolated exercises instead of compound or multi-joint movements. It is simply more beneficial to choose exercises that work 2 or more muscle groups at the same time since it is scientifically proven to increase muscle in a faster and more effective way. Here is a list of the compound exercises I recommend:
- Leg Press
- Pull Ups
- Military Press/Shoulder Press
- Dumbbell Rows
Are you ready to implement all these tips into your training? If you are, then you are on your way to gaining some hard well-earned muscle mass.
Remember to be consistent, patient and most of all, enjoy the process.