So lately I’ve been getting some questions from some novice trainees about avoiding mistakes at the gym when training to gain strength and muscle. With that being said I decided to make a list for you here. This is a real quick list of some common mistakes I’ve seen in some novice lifters and athletes when they start out training on their own.
Workout Mistakes When Building Muscle
1) Lack of proper technique:
This is a common mistake I see with most every trainee that comes to work with me. Of course this is not unusual to me, but so many people will spend months and even years in the gym on their own moving and lifting with improper technique and dysfunction.
This is not a criticism as much as it is an observation. I suppose it could be both, but the point is that you can save yourself a lot of trouble if you seek out the help of a professional to get your movement and technique dialed in.
I don’t get into health clubs as much anymore these days, but I do find my way in on occasion and when I do I see the same mistakes with novice trainees. One common problem is that I see people go through entire workouts doing nothing but single joint movements and lifts.
Arm curls, tricep extensions, and leg curls are great as secondary movements, but if you’re going to build any real muscle you need train performing movements that involve more than one joint (multi-joint) in order to stimulate more muscle groups and muscle development.
3) Too much aerobic cardio:
When it comes to building muscle the best way of doing so is by building strength. This is the case whether your goal is muscular size, or if you’re goal is to build a more lean athletic physique.
A common mistake people tend to make is emphasizing too much aerobic cardio. Too much aerobic cardio and not enough strength training will actually stall out your metabolism. This happens because your body’s metabolism is more subject to becoming more catabolic if you emphasize aerobic cardio at the expense of strength.
To resolve this cut down on the hours of daily cardio and include more interval based cardio to supplement strength. Challenge yourself by working different energy systems to build lean muscle.
Too many novice lifters and beginners walk into the gym without having a plan in place. Over the years I’ve witnessed people in gyms that just sort of wander around aimlessly trying to figure out what to do.
The best thing you can do for yourself when going to train and to get results is to invest the time planning out your strategy. Take the time to plan.
5) Poor programming:
This sort of falls in line with the previous point. You may have a plan, but is your plan any good? When it comes to getting in a workout that yields results your plan needs to contain the ingredients to get you there.
What you do when you walk into the gym matters. So if you’re going to train to build lean muscle and strength then you need to make sure you engaging lifts and movements that will give you that return on your investment.
6) Poor mobility:
Another element that can restrict your progress is your lack of mobility. If you spend most of your days sitting in a cubicle at work, or logging some serious hours on the playstation with that being the extent of your movement then you’re going to experience some problems when you walk into the gym.
If you expect to make any progress in the gym you’ve got to improve on your joint mobility. Work on improving your hip and shoulder mobility and your exercise range of motion (ROM) will improve. If you improve your ROM you’ll experience more gains from your workouts.
Remember that you start making gains the moment you leave the gym. The stress of training is meant to break your body down.
With that being said it’s the recovery after training that you will start making gains…assuming you’re doing what you should be doing to aid in the recovery process.
If you crank out a good workout only to turn around to go chow down on cheeseburgers and cold beer then you’re not going to get anywhere. Steer clear of the fast foods and the junk foods. Your body needs quality fuel.
Make sure you eat some lean meats such as chicken and fish. Make sure you eat plenty of greens getting in a variety of vegetables and fruit. Good fuel makes an engine run faster. Bad fuel only gums up the engine and slows it down.
8) Too little sleep:
This also has to do with recovery. Your body repairs itself when you’re asleep at night. If you’re not getting enough sleep you’re only restricting your muscle gains and the recovery process.
Make sure you get in a solid 8 hours. Turn off that laptop, put down your cell phone, and switch off the TV at least a half hour before bed. Allow your brain time slow down so that you can drift off to sleep.
If you want to make real progress with your workouts then you need to make sure you’re hydrated. If you’re dehydrated you’re only subjecting yourself to a slower recovery while extended muscle soreness.
In addition to this you are setting yourself up for muscle cramps as well which will sideline you keeping you from getting in any training at all. This is totally unnecessary and totally avoidable.
Your body consist of about 60% water. If you’re not staying hydrated your not doing what you should be doing to maintain your health. If you’re active and working out (especially with the summer heat) you need to be taking about an ounce of water per pound of bodyweight. For instance, I’m a about 180 lbs. so I need to be consuming about 180 ounces.
Try to stay clear and restrict alcohol and caffeine as they are diuretics and will cause you to lose more fluid.
I wanted to throw this one in because this is one that I’ve seen a lot over the years and I don’t think I’ve discussed it enough. If you started out as a beginner and have gone the extra mile to hire a coach, or trainer and never got the results you desired while knowing you put in truly great effort then you made a bad hire.
If you have experienced this I know it’s a disappointing thing to you, but I promise it’s disappointing to me as well. Being in the industry I work my ass off to try to provide cutting edge help and value to everyone and when I hear about people being taken advantage of in my industry it really irritates me.
If you’re looking for a coach or trainer a good place to start is with finding a coach that is a true professional and has devoted his or her life to training people as a full time working professional. In addition to this you can also look for certain credentials.
Look to see if they are ACSM, NSCA-CPT, or NSCA-CSCS. I’m personally CSCS and I can tell you that anyone training full time with this credential is well studied in exercise and the human body.
Workout Mistakes: The Takeaway
At the end of the day if you study the steps and work to avoid the mistakes I’ve outlined here it will take you a long ways in terms of your muscle and fitness gains.
Are you currently making any of the mistakes I’ve outlined here?
Which areas do you need help in?
Post up and share here in the comments below.
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