3 Muscle Building Mistakes
The 3 Worst Muscle Building Mistakes
When it comes to building muscle and getting that big, lean physique, most lifters think they’ve
got things all figured out. Truth is, even with all the information available out there, the average
gym rat is still making HUGE mistakes with his training and diet! Here are three of the worst
muscle building mistakes you can make. Avoid these pitfalls, and watch your gains take off to
Mistake 1: Not Getting Enough Protein
If you’ve been doing your homework on a proper muscle building diet (and you should be!),
then you’ve probably heard almost every trainer, bodybuilder, and nutrition guru extol the
benefits of a high-protein diet for building muscle. Even so, most lifters don’t get nearly enough
protein! It amazes me that so many trainers still recommend LESS than 1 gram of COMPLETE
protein per pound of bodyweight. For any male who’s small and at least relatively lean, that
should be but a baseline.
Fats and carbs surely have their place, and if you’re a skinny guy, you’ll need lots of them. But
it’s protein, especially animal proteins like meat and eggs, that provide your body with the
amino acids to actually BUILD new muscle tissue after you tear it down in the gym with heavy
weight lifting. If you’re training as hard as possible and as often as possible, then you’re going to
need a boatload of protein to recover and grow!
So, just in case you’re still in the dark, a good BASELINE for your daily protein intake is one
gram per pound of bodyweight. However, if you’re really skinny or really struggling to put on
weight, you might want to bump that up. 1.25 or even 1.5 grams of protein per pound of
bodyweight might be what you need! And to be clear, only count the protein from COMPLETE
sources – meats, poultry, eggs, dairy, and whey protein are your staples. The incidental
amounts of protein in grains, nuts, and other foods you eat do NOT count because they do not
contain all of the essential amino acids.
Mistake 2: Not Training for Strength
Open up any muscle magazine on the shelf at your grocery store or supplement shop, and you’ll
probably find tons of training articles supposedly written by pro bodybuilders. More often than
not, these articles prescribe routines where you “bomb” a certain muscle group with lots of
exercises, sets, and reps with a moderate weight. Rarely, if ever, do they talk about how to get
Now, high-volume, blood-pumping, burn-inducing training certainly has its place in some
lifters’ routines, especially for advanced bodybuilders. However, the real key to a beginner’s
training is tangible, no-BS strength gains! Think getting a huge pump and burn in your pecs is
going to give you a herculean chest? Think doing leg extensions until you can’t stand the pain is
really going to give you tree-trunk thighs? Think again! You’ve got to move some serious iron to
develop a thick, dense base of muscle mass.
There are tons of exercises and routines out there, but truth be told, the majority of your gains
are going to come from gradually going up in weight on the most basic of movements. Squats,
deadlifts, presses, and rows should be your staples, along with a few key accessory movements
like chins, dips, and curls. It may not sound fancy or sexy, but that is what WORKS! Want
bigger arms? Try adding a hundred pounds to your bench press, weighted pull-up, and curl. I
guarantee that will do more for the beginner lifter than endless sets of light curls and extensions.
Mistake 3: Poor Lifestyle Choices
One thing bodybuilders are often known for is living a Spartan, even hermit-like lifestyle. In
order to maximize their gains and perfect every aspect of their training, nutrition, and rest,
some lifters will forgo any and all drinking, partying, and even just staying out late. Do you need
to be this strict? Probably not. But, do you need to make sure your lifestyle fits your goals?
If you think that you can afford to stay out late and get drunk multiple times per week and still
make anywhere NEAR optimal progress in your lifting and weight gain, you’ve got another
thing coming. For one thing, alcohol consumption has been shown time and again to limit
muscular gains AND make it easier for your body to pack on fat. You might have the kind of
metabolism where you don’t have to worry about getting a beer gut, but don’t think that allows
you any leeway when it comes to getting big and strong!
Even more importantly, the party lifestyle makes it damn near impossible to get enough rest to
train hard, recover, and grow. If you’ve got a job, school, or other big time commitments, then
something’s got to give – partying or lifting. Alcohol and nutrition issues aside, there simply
aren’t enough hours in the day to give full attention to responsibilities, training, AND partying /
All of that having been said, you do not need to forgo a social life in order to make progress with
your strength and muscular development. You’re simply going to have to figure out what works
for you and where your priorities really lie. If you are one of the lucky few who can stay out late
and drink multiple times per month and still get bigger, good for you. However, most will need
to find some sort of balance and make some sacrifices here and there. Like any other
worthwhile endeavor, making consistent, tangible progress with your lifting is a lifestyle, not
just a hobby.