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There are quite a few mistakes you could make while trying to build muscle tissue, and they're so common you've either made them yourself, or have seen others do them. Either way, here they are, and also the answers as to what you should do instead.
5 Muscle Building Mistakes
1. Focusing on Isolation ExercisesThis is a large issue that affects most of the bodybuilding community. We tend to separate ourselves from powerlifters and strongmen, as if our muscles are somehow different from theirs.
True, our goals are different, as they focus more on These are of course: bench press, deadlift, squat, military press, and back barbells rows. You could add a few others, like pull-ups, clean and jerk, etc., but let's keep it simple.
When you perform these multi-joint movements, you're able to train almost every muscle in your body at once. It not only saves you the time and effort, but it also builds strength.
It's difficult to build strength with isolation exercises, simply because your bicep will not be getting much stronger once you hit a certain point. But you can progress for far longer on the big movements we've just mentioned.
This of course ties down to the the principle of "progressive overload." You need to progressively put your muscle under more stress in order to elicit further growth.
So does that mean isolation exercises are useless? Not at all. They should have their place in any bodybuilding routine, but more as a supplementary edition.
The core of the workout should center around one, two or three of the big movements, while also adding a couple of sets of isolation work for the smaller muscles or areas that you need to bring up to speed with the rest of your physique.
2. Not Having a PlanIf you want to get from point A to point B, you need to have some idea of how you'll get there. If you're trying to build bigger muscles, the same logic applies.
Without a plan you're strolling through the gym, checking out the gym bunnies and making small talk with your buddy while doing a lame set of crunches. That won't get you big. Which is why most of the people you see in the gym will look exactly the same (if not worse) in a few years.
All of this is a result of not having a workout plan. When you have a plan, you get to the gym with a clear intention, you don't waste time in between sets, and you do the exercises which matter even if you don't feel like it. The other reason a workout plan is so important is because you get to keep track of your progress, the importance of which we've already mentioned.
When you do squats on Wednesday week-in and week-out, you can write down your weight, number or reps, sets, how you felt, and whether you could improve upon those numbers. Next Wednesday you have a clear intention to beat the record. Perhaps you'll do it, or you won't, but it's still closer to anything you'd achieve if you didn't have that plan and those numbers written down.
With that being said, don't take just any program you see online thinking that all that matters is being consistent. There are good and bad plans.
Find the one that emphasizes some form of progression (preferably in strength), and follow it through for a few months. You're bound to see a difference.
3. OvertrainingOkay, I know you've seen CT Fletcher yelling, "There's no such thing as overtraining, mother BLEEP!", and similar cool, hip lines that are bound to sell supplements and t-shirts. But trust me, there is a thing called overtraining, and it's very easy to accomplish it.
If you're a natural bodybuilder, you don't have the physical capacity to train like a Jay Cutler or any other pro who consumes "anabolic chicken." You need to time your workouts correctly, and get enough rest in between.
The problem is as always, having enough patience, especially when it comes to building muscle. No one is immune to the desire of going to the gym and just killing it each time in the hope you'll wake up looking significantly bigger the next morning. But that's not how it goes. Consistency is the key.
Train 4-5 times a week tops, get enough sleep and try to rid yourself of unnecessary stress. Having proper supplementation and diet is of course crucial in order to have a higher training frequency and volume without burning out. Sometimes doing less can prove to be the smarter choice in the long run.
4. Worrying About AbsThis is one reason why I'm not too keen on the portrayal of bodybuilding as a 10% bodyfat or less year round lifestyle. If you don't have decent size to begin with, this sort of mentality will not allow you to build the size you want.
Should you do a dirty bulk and get fat instead? No, but you shouldn't worry about getting a little chubby either while you're building muscle.
That's completely natural when you're eating in a caloric surplus. If you try to measure every single calorie you're getting in, most likely you'll miscalculate or lose your mind.
Strive for hitting around 500 caloric surplus and you'll build muscle without having to worry if you ate a cookie after lunch. Also as you get bigger, you'll also be adding strength, which is obviously a win-win situation when it comes to bulking.
5. Not Eating CarbsWith the popularity of high fat low carb diets on the rise, many people ask whether they should be eating carbs at all, or if they should stay in ketosis while building muscle. In my humble opinion yes, you should absolutely eat carbs while striving for significant muscle building progress.
Carbs are an awesome source of energy, and more importantly the top source of calories. The effectiveness of keto dieting is exactly in the fact that you don't feel as hungry as you do while you use glucose as the main energy source.
But when you're bulking, you actually want to have an appetite as you need extra calories. On top of that, having carbs an hour before a workout in the form of oatmeal/bread/fruit/pre-workout drink is a great way to get ready for a session of heavy squats.
The slim waist you get from abstaining from carbs certainly has it's positives. But remember your aim is first and foremost to build muscle, not to prepare for a beach physique contest. There will be time for that as well once you build the size you're looking for.