4 Mistakes Stopping You From Building Muscle Mass
Building muscle doesn’t happen by accident. If it did, then I would love to be accident prone. No one ever got in shape by not knowing how to train, when to rest, and what to eat. When meeting a client who would like to put on some muscle, reviewing what they’ve done on their own is more about correcting previous mistakes than trying to pile on more work.
Those mistakes can be costly. More often than not, these errors prevent us from building muscle. With a lack of results, one does one have left to do? Re-evaluate the training program? Adjust caloric intake? Seek professional advice?
No, that would be silly. Instead, we try to do more and more work, which means longer workouts, more junk food to try and gain weight, and even stashing weight plates under your pillow and hoping you add some muscle through osmosis.
As always, you need to train smarter and not harder. Here’s how.
- Too Many Movements
If you’re a fitness nerd like me, you enjoy reading the works of some of the old timers from the iron game. These include Reg Park and Anthony Ditillo and the words “adding muscular bulk” always seems to get me fired up to train. But if you read over the articles and books from this era you notice a common theme: there’s not a whole lot of spice to their training. Chin ups, presses, squats, and deadlifts were the staples of the training and there really wasn’t a whole lot of room left for one arm dumbbell lateral raises.
Making sure you get sets of cable crossovers in expense of a heavy incline press won’t do much for adding mass to your chest. You only have so much time to train, so it’s best to focus that time on compound movements that will stimulate hormones and tackle as much muscle mass as possible. In all honestly, all you really need is a barbell and a squat rack with a pull up bar.
Which leads us to the next point.
- You’re Not a Bodybuilder
I’ve been there before – scoping up the latest fitness magazine that was littered with a bodybuilder’s “secret formula” for packing on muscle. 8 weeks later and my arms were still as puny as before. The only real work my arms got was holding the magazine up and flipping the pages.
Bodybuilders are accomplished physique athletes. Their recommendations for specific body parts are more about picking up a lagging muscle group to promote symmetry and look great on stage. Most have already put their work in and have developed a foundation through the movements we discussed earlier. Focusing an entire workout on your rear deltoid does very little work if you haven’t mustered the strength to perform 5 reps of a wide grip pull up.
- Too Much Excess Movement
I’m guilty as charged with this one. If you’re an athlete, runner, or just love to be in tip top shape, then lifting heavy and resting often is going to be a tough pill to swallow. There is something to be said about a hard run or an interval session and clients often tell me they feel healthier when we end a session with some conditioning. Whether or not it’s true is not the point; what is true is that it’s hard to eliminate something that makes us feel good.
If you’d like, train to gain muscle in the winter. You wear more and less people see you. But regardless of when you decide to train for adding muscle, just understand you need to move less.
- Not Eating Enough
I use to do metabolic testing; you know the athlete running on a treadmill with a hose in their mouth during a Gatorade ad? That’s a form of it. Anyway, part of the test recovered clients to log their meal intake for three days and in my years of doing it, I never ran across a client that ate enough. Most were close to being 1,000 calories off and others even farther; our health conscious society has made us afraid to eat.
Carrying that over to those who want to gain weight and I find that clients still don’t eat enough. Some may think that the thought of being able to eat a lot of food is fun, but it’s not. If you’re not getting sick of the sight of food, then you probably need to eat more. Eating basically becomes a chore; in the time that it takes you to finish one meal, you’re probably ready for your next one. You don’t even have time to do much because eating takes up so much of your personal time. If that’s not you, then it’s time to hit the grocery store.
You don’t get in shape by mistake. Chances are you’re doing more things wrong than simply not doing enough. Take a minute to sit down and evaluate your current lifestyle choices as well as your priorities. This will give you a chance to set up a tactical blueprint to success; after all, getting in shape is usually a means of working smarter, not necessarily harder.