BlogHow to Gain Muscle

8 Overlooked Muscle Building Mistakes You Might Be Making

Hitting the gym on a regular basis but not quite seeing the results you were hoping for? Sometimes the smallest mistakes can lead to the biggest problems.

Whether you’re a beginner trainee or someone who considers themselves more advanced – a veteran of the gym, so to speak, there are some mistakes that you need to know about.

Look over your current plan and double check that the following aren’t coming into play. If they are, you may be sabotaging the results that you could be otherwise seeing.

Fit Guy Lifting Dumbbells With A Big Upper Body and Skinny Legs
Don’t Skip Leg Day…

Muscle Building Mistake #1: Lack Of Periodization

The first big mistake is an overall lack of periodization. To really succeed with your workout program, you’ll want to be focusing on changing your workout over time.

Hit the gym each and every day, doing the same thing over and over again and soon, you’ll be headed right for a plateau.

To overcome this, focus on periodization. During some of months of the year, focus on gaining strength. During other months, muscle size gain should be your goal.

By changing your primary focus like this, you’ll be adjusting your rep ranges and the amount of weight you lift per set. This can help prevent burnout and the joint pain that can sometimes accompany always lifting heavy.

Just don’t switch over too often. Focus on one goal for 2-3 months and then make the switch from there. You might even consider adding a fat loss phase in between to shed any excess fat you may have gained in the process.


Muscle Building Mistake #2: Lack Of Daily Purpose

The next mistake is another common one – lack of purpose. Ask yourself this: last time you went to the gym, did you have a clear goal laid out?

Did you know exactly what it was that you wanted to accomplish? Most people don’t. They simply go to the gym and try and push themselves.

And while pushing yourself is good, you need to have that vision. What exactly do you want to complete?

Do you want to lift another 5 pounds on your bench press? Do you want to add a fourth set of squats?

Take a closer look at the long-term goals you have set for yourself and then start breaking those down into smaller, short-term goals. Once you have these (which should account for about a 1-2 month time period), you can now break those smaller short-term goals into daily or workout goals.


This will do two things.


First, it’ll give you laser sharp focus each time you hit the gym. You’ll know exactly what you are there to do and help you see to it that you accomplish that objective.

And second, each time you do reach one of the short term goals you have set for yourself, you’ll give yourself a boost to your confidence that you can achieve what you set out to.

This only helps build you up as you strive to reach the future goals you have set. When you believe you can do it, your chances of success will be that much greater.

Young active guy lying on a mat in a park
Don’t forget to rest and recover…

Muscle Building Mistake #3: Lack Of Rest

The next mistake is another ‘lack of’, only this time, it’s rest. If you hit the gym five or six days per week thinking this is the fastest route to long-term gains, it’s time to reconsider.

Remember, your body grows while you are resting. It’s when you workout that you break your tissues down. As such, start putting more emphasis on that total rest time.

Hit the gym hard four to five days per week but keep at least two days for full rest and recovery.

One mistake you don’t want to make as you do this is adding cardio or sports training on those off days. Too many individuals will think they’ll just do a ‘light’ workout on the treadmill or go shoot some hoops with friends. But, very often, that workout verges on being just intense enough to compromise recovery.

Your rest days should be just that: rest and recovery. Give yourself permission to relax and watch a good movie or meet up for dinner with a friend. The only form of activity you should get on these days should be leisure activity (such as window shopping). Your body will thank you for it during the week ahead.


Muscle Building Mistake #4: Lack Of Carbs

Too few carbs is another mistake commonly made by those lifters who want to stay lean as they build muscle. The problem with this is that not only do they usually stay lean, but they stay the same size as well.

You need carbs to grow. Carbs provide the energy to work hard during the gym and the calorie support required to build the extra muscle mass.

Sure, you don’t need to gorge on carbs every second you get, but you can’t skimp on them either. Don’t fear them. They are an important tool in the muscle building equation.

If you are really concerned with staying lean, it comes down to timing your carbs properly and choosing the right varieties. First, steer clear of processed, simple carbs. These won’t provide your body with the nutrients it needs to grow and build more muscle mass tissue. Wholesome, natural carbohydrates are what you want. Foods like brown rice, quinoa, sweet potatoes, fruits, and vegetables.

Then, time those carbohydrates so that you eat most of them around the workout periods. Right before and especially right after a workout your body is more likely to use these carbohydrates for muscle building purposes. By adding more at this time, you optimize your chances of building lean muscle while minimizing body fat gain.


Man Falling And Hitting His Face On A Treadmill

Muscle Building Mistake #5: Too Much Cardio

If you’re doing more than a couple sessions of cardio each week if your goal is to primarily gain muscle mass, this could be yet another reason you’re failing to see results.

While some cardio can be great to help increase cardiovascular fitness and prevent the fatigue that can otherwise accompany you during higher rep sets, too much cardio will work in opposition of your goal to build lean muscle mass.

Those doing high volumes of cardio training typically limit their overall strength potential, which then means you’re essentially limiting your progress.

Two to three sessions of 20 minutes is plenty for lean mass gains. And always remember, this cardio should come after your lifting is completed, or in an entirely different session (even more ideal!).

Doing cardio prior to lifting will burn up energy that would have been better put to use during those heavy lifts you have planned.


Muscle Building Mistake #6: Too Much Isolation

Are you hitting the gym frequently for the ‘gun show’? Are you doing 4 different types of curls in your upper body workout session?

You might think this isolation work is enlarging these smaller muscle groups, but all it’s doing is using up your resources that could be put to better use elsewhere.

When your goal is muscle mass gains, focus on compound lifts first and foremost. Only once you’ve gained the size you desire should you dial in and really focus on more isolation movements.

While there’s nothing wrong with doing a couple sets of curls or extensions towards the end of your workout, they should never make up the vast majority of your session in the gym.


Toddler Trying To Lift To Deadlift A Heavy Barball

Muscle Building Mistake #7: Too Much Ego

When you hit the gym, do you look forward to showing off how much you can lift? Perhaps you let your competitive spirit get in the way and if you see a guy doing the 80’s on shoulder press, you’re damn well sure to do 80’s as well.

Letting you ego come into play can seriously hinder your results. You need to only focus on what you can do, not on what others can do.

Put more emphasis on making sure that you are doing more than you were doing before and that will be enough. You don’t have the match the next guy.

When you start letting your ego get into the way, there’s a greater chance you’ll end up using poor form and as a result, wind up injured and sidelined.


Muscle Man Holding Many Supplements

Muscle Building Mistake #8: Too Much Focus On Supplementation

Finally, the last muscle building mistake to avoid is an over-reliance on supplementation. If you’re constantly reading about the next greatest supplement you can take to help pack pounds of muscle on your body, you may be getting side-tracked from what really matters: your workouts and diet.

Focus on those two first. Don’t rush into supplements too soon or it could hinder your muscle building career. Once you are eating right and have a regular exercise routine down, then you can look into the basic supplements such as protein powder, creatine, BCAA’s, a pre-workout supplement, and glutamine. This should provide you with all you need to get the most from every hour in the gym you put in.

So there you have the eight most common muscle-building mistakes that people often make as they go about their workout routine.


Do you see yourself in any of these?

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Hi! I’m Shannon Clark. My two greatest passions in life are fitness and writing, so I decided to combine the two and that’s what’s brought me here to you today. I hold a Bachelor’s Degree in Exercise Science and am a certified personal trainer. But that’s not all. I have actual experience in the industry, which it what sets my writing apart. I understand what goes on in the mind’s of those seeking health and information and build that into my writing copy. I’ve been in the health and fitness industry for over 10 years and while I do focus most of my time on writing, I do still work one-on-one with select individuals, helping them achieve their health and fitness goals. When I’m not writing (which, for those who know me is hardly ever!), you can likely find me reading, watching the latest thriller or comedy movie, trying new recipes with my fiancé, and of course, working out.

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