There’s a reason why the majority of people that work out regularly don’t have much to show for it, and why so few people ever build truly impressive physiques. And, contrary to popular belief, it’s not (the lack of) steroids–many drug users are just as flabby and weak as the next guy.
Here are six mistakes that could kill your gains. They’re all easy to fix right now, so be honest and ask yourself: Which one is holding you back from your potential?
MISTAKE 1: NOT LISTENING TO YOUR BODY
You’re scheduled to hit the gym for a big chest day today, but your triceps and front delts still ache from your last shoulder workout. You had mediocre sleep last night that left you feeling far less than energized. What do you do? Like most people, you tough it out. But this may not be the most optimal approach to building muscle.
Listening to your body is essential, if you’re still sore or feel like shit it’s best to take a day or two off. Not only will this help you build more muscle in the long run but will help you avoid injuries which are the ultimate way to kill your muscle gains.
MISTAKE 2: MISSING OUT ON THE BIG LIFTS
Too often, we quantify our weaknesses purely in terms of size. “I’d like to add an inch to my arms,” for instance, or “I wish my calves were bigger.” So we approach the problem the same way we’d approach a bike with a flat tire: by pumping it up, in this case with isolation movements like preacher curls or calf raises.
The best way to get bigger and stronger is to attack the big compound movements, I’m sure you know what they are by now. The squat, bench press, deadlifts, pullups, military presses. Weighted pull-ups will do plenty for your arms, in addition to your back, abs, and overall strength. Heavy deadlifts hit your arms, calves, and pretty much everything else, while producing a rush of beneficial anabolic hormones and burning more calories than you probably realize. These are the exercises you need to get stronger in, these will help you add mass.
Check out The 10 Best Old School Exercises
MISTAKE 3: NOT MASTERING MIND-MUSCLE CONTROL
It can be tempting to simply move from station A to B, push weights from points A to B, and trust that it’s working. If you’ve accomplished everything the little piece of paper said to do, the workout was a success, right? Wrong.
You need to actually feel the muscle working, no point in just throwing up a certain amount of weight. This will only lead to injuries. It’s best to lower the weight and work on your form and try get the mind muscle connection. This will allow you to maximize the time under tension, which is a proven way to build muscle.
MISTAKE 4: NOT STAYING ACCOUNTABLE DURING THE WEEKEND
The weekend hits, and all bets are off. You go out and “let loose” one evening each week, but this can seriously set back your physique goals—especially if alcohol is involved. Sure having a drink or two won’t do much, but getting wasted every week is definitely not going to help.
MISTAKE 5: OVERDOING CARDIO TO STAY LEAN
Cardio kills gains right? Not really, some cardio is good during your mass gaining periods but too much is a huge problem. Overdoing cardio training can dramatically decrease your total force generation capacity, which may mean you don’t have the energy to produce the growth stimulus you need during your lifting session. Also too much cardio stacked on top of weight training can also cause your testosterone levels to drop.
The solution? Track your calories. That’s how you can stay relatively lean while adding muscle.
Check out this Guide To Counting Calories
MISTAKE 6: UNDEREMPHASIZING CALORIES AND OVEREMPHASIZING PROTEIN
There’s no denying the importance of protein in any mass-building diet, and sure, you’ll need more of this crucial macronutrient than someone who’s sedentary. However, also remember that carbohydrates are what the body uses as fuel while it works to assemble protein into new muscle tissues.
If you don’t have enough carbs, the protein you eat won’t be put to good use. Don’t forget your fats too, they are required for optimal hormonal levels, and your hormones are the key to building muscle. Why do you think steroids work so well? They’re loads of hormones.
Also you don’t actually need much protein to build muscle as a natural athlete. Check out why “get as much protein as possible” is bullsh*t