We all make mistakes, even notoriously when we are trying to be fit. For decades, bodybuilding and fitness have been clouded with poor practices that led to inefficiency, and worse, injuries. It’s understandable that newbies don’t know where to start or they don’t have someone to guide them along. They usually resort to the internet for their routines, and although effective most of the time, they fail to check if it actually works for their body type. If you’re shaking your head and muttering been-there-done-that, you already know these mistakes to avoid when trying to build muscles.
A lot of people will go to great lengths just to achieve a muscular body. Some ride every passing fad with the hopes that it will finally be the answer to their prayers. But in every failure, some learn but others still don’t. Regardless if you’re a newbie or long-time fitness buff, it’s time to quit all habits. This is the right moment to reflect on these mistakes:
1. “Go big or go home”
One of the mistakes many newbies fell into is the idea of “go big or go home”. Crazy fads lurk the internet and this results in a myriad of health problems, not to mention the unnecessary expenses on ineffective supplements. Entering the doors of a gym tends to have some sense of false standard to it that new bodybuilders have the urge to follow. They spend hours performing muscle-ripping activities, only to end up severely sore the day after. This is a saboteur to the supposedly step-by-step process of gaining mass.
If someone told you that you have to spend at least three hours lifting weights, don’t believe him. This is one of the mistakes to avoid when trying to build muscles. Instead, experts recommend that you perform high-intensity workouts for under an hour to experience the best bulking effect.
Remember, aside from working out, your diet and lifestyle will also play important factors here.
2. No need for the basics
It’s easy to be blindly committed to a routine that’s not fit for your body. Just because your bodybuilder friend lifts weights every day, it doesn’t mean you have to follow suit. Lifting very heavy plates isn’t the thing for beginners. Remember that in building mass, there’s no shortcut. You can’t cheat your body to bulk up in a matter of days just because you jump into a pro routine.
Leg extensions and chest flies aren’t the only guaranteed exercises to gain your guns. Basic routines like bench presses, squats, and pull-ups are the gold standard when it comes to core building. You first have to master these basic exercises before jumping into a different game level.
Also, don’t forget the basic idea of stretching. Snobbing it is one of the mistakes to avoid when trying to build muscles. Almost every gym buff can’t agree enough about the value of warming up before hitting the weights. Like the old maxim, master the basics then break ‘em.
3. Annihilating it
After a workout session in the morning, you decided to join a basketball game in the afternoon. This looks innocent and probably good since you want to stay physically active. But it doesn’t take much time to know that this is overkill.
Your muscles need up to 48 hours of rest to recover from the previous stress it experienced. If you join the hoops without even letting a day pass, you’re losing muscles instead of gaining them. Not to mention the very sore feeling after the game, this isn’t the way to go when trying to gain mass.
Another thing is that this extra physical activity will consume the calories intended for muscle recovery. It’s like a double whammy on your muscles’ health.
If your intention is to do some cardio, you can resort to walking or light jogging.
4. Dirty calories are still calories
It’s a fact that you have to consume more calories to gain more mass. This is almost a big task that skinny people had to deal with. But it’s not just about the calories; it’s also about the quality of it. Dirty calories aren’t helpful for your muscles and one of the mistakes to avoid when trying to build muscles. Although it will bring in energy, it also forms lots of fats in the body to the amount that’s no longer healthy. The result would be a halted routine since you have to diet to burn the excess pounds. It also means that you’ll burn muscles along the way.
Just because you hit the gym doesn’t mean you have the license to eat anything you want. There’s a fad called “dirty bulking” where one can devour burgers, fries, pizza and other fast food junk. Your fast metabolism can deal with the fats and all the calorie stuff. But your endocrine, kidney, and heart will suffer from the junk. Also, these food items are stripped of nutrients and minerals needed for muscle growth.
5. Gulping bottles of energy drinks
Like the idea of eating lots of calories regardless of its quality, energy drinks are the liquid counterpart. Drinking bottles of energy drink before a workout is a common thing among gyms, but it poses health risks. It’s one of the mistakes to avoid when trying to build muscles. These commercially formulated drinks are packed with sweeteners, artificial flavoring and coloring, and other chemicals. It will pump up your body to endure the intensity of your cross-fit training. But continuous months of resorting to these refreshments will see your kidney failure.
If you want to be hydrated, start drinking water like you mean it. It’s the safest fluid you can feed your body before, during, and after a workout. Also, it doesn’t cost as much as your flavored juices with the empty promise to burn fats without effort.
For a dose of energy, you can formulate your own workout shake packed with the needed protein and vitamins. You can also shake some fruits and veggies along with it. This way, you get rid of artificial substances without sacrificing the taste.
6. Devouring too many supplements
In the same vein of limiting energy drinks, you should also take it easy with the supplements. Don’t get me wrong, these products are made for a reason and with proven effects. But packing up with too much isn’t healthy either. It’s okay to have a tub of protein and another supplement like creatine or beta-alanine. However, having as much as eight supplements to take per day isn’t normal especially if you’re just a newbie.
Supplements, like what they are called, are supposed to fill something that is missing. It’s not supposed to play the role of providing your overall nourishment. Chomping on it most of the day is one of the mistakes to avoid when trying to build muscles. If you can take a certain vitamin through solid foods, take that instead of popping another pill or scooping more powders.
Don’t spend too much money on powders and other passing fads. What you need is actual food nourishment.
7. Smoke and drink cheats
So you ace a whole month of continuous progress on your bulking. It’s advisable that you give yourself a treat to keep your motivation lit. However, never indulge in alcoholic beverages and smoking. These vices will sabotage your bulk by giving you dirty calories and more toxins. When you puff a stick, you’re exposing yourself to the risk of cancer, respiratory diseases, and a series of health problems. It doesn’t require rocket science to know that will sabotage your whole progress. Don’t reason out that you just took a few shots or it’s just one stick. The taste of these vices will lure you to take more in the future.
The problem with alcohol isn’t just about the calories. This substance will also wreak havoc on your hormones. It will decrease your muscle mass and store more fats in the process. Not the best thing ever.
8. Jumping from one program to another
You know what’s the worst of all the mistakes to avoid when trying to build muscles? Making your body a guinea pig for a variety of bulking programs. These changes in your biochemistry are serious business, if you keep stressing your body to these habits, you’ll find it hard to build muscles. Skinny people who are still in the hunt for the program that will work for them tend to stick to the old belief of “keeping your body guessing”.
Smart bodybuilders will know that it takes research to find the program that suits them. There are tons of verified testimonials on the internet that will help you figure out the perfect routine. You can ask the help of a professional to skip the hit-and-miss process. Stick religiously to the regimen for at least two months and see the results. If it’s not working, you can switch to another one, but make that it’s well-researched and tailored for you.
9. Mental noting fitness progress
The only way to measure your progress is by taking notes of your weight, diet, and workout. Without this visual information, it will be difficult to have a bigger picture of your routine. Some newbie bodybuilders choose to mental note their progress: the hours they worked out, the foods they ate, and the rough estimate of their weight. But all of us know that this memory is only good for a few days. After adding more numbers to remember, your mind board will become a whole mess of undefined data.
So grab a notebook and list down all the information right after you finish your workout. This will be your go-to reference if you’re starting to slip from your goal. The more you measure, the more you’ll improve. This makes mental noting one of the mistakes to avoid when trying to build muscles.
Bulking up isn’t just an activity you’ll commit to whenever it suits you. You have to plan it and execute the routine no matter what.
10. Doing it on your own
Being a lone island in the sea of muscle building is an excruciating process. You don’t expect to pass a class without classmates, mentors, or someone to ask questions to. If you choose to do things on your own, you’ll be suffering for months without seeing any substantial growth. Friends, fellow bulkers, or an online community will help you find your way to mass gains. All these people and entities are geared toward a shared goal. It’s your added push to beat plateaus and be accountable for your fitness.
You can also sign up for a challenge and win prizes in the end. Although this isn’t necessary, it’s a massive motivation booster. You can also look for a teacher who can give tips and figure out what’s going wrong with your program. Another pair of eyes is an excellent detector of fitness mistakes.
11. Setting sky-high expectations
Do you have an Arnold Schwarzenegger image on your mind? These sky-high expectations are sensitive ego-crushing bombshells. Sky-high expectations are one of the mistakes to avoid when trying to build muscles. It’s totally fine to dream of becoming just like the bodybuilder you look up to, but don’t ever think it’s going to be an easy road. Every body type is different from the other; someone’s routine might not work for you. If your friend achieved his brawns in a year, yours might take longer.
Even before it solidifies on your subliminal thoughts, tame your wild expectations. Becoming realistic on the timeframe and outcome is important when gaining mass. It will save you from the torment of failure and a crushed ego.
12. Listening to the wrong advice
Like what I said earlier, it’s advisable that you seek the opinion of other people about your program. However, beware of who supplies the advice. Make sure that the individual you’re talking to is knowledgeable of your body type and the regimen you’re going through. Most likely, it would be your gym instructor or the nutritionist who advised you long before you started a certain diet.
Of all the people you can talk to, it’s you who know your body well. Practice caution in heeding advice from suspicious people, it might not always be worth your time.
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