7 of the Biggest Muscle Building Mistakes

It’s no secret that guys and girls alike want to build lean, fit, and muscular bodies.

This desire can sometimes lead to men doing crazy things in an effort to build muscle.

Even after making these sacrifices, sometimes you’re left scratching your head and wondering why you’re not getting the gains you envisioned?

It could very well be because you’re making one or more of these seven mistakes.

Fortunately, after today you’ll be on the right path.

Mistake #1: Eating Too Many Calories

When guys want to bulk up, what do they instantly do?

Eat more.

A lot more.

Oftentimes guys will eat way more than is necessary for building muscle. The main problem with this is the fact that you run a higher risk of gaining excess fat.

Eventually, you’ll have to lose that fat and that’s not fun especially if you were lean before you started. By definition, fat is stored energy.

This means that if you gain fat while bulking, your body didn’t use those extra calories for building muscle because they got stored as body fat.

Here’s what you need to do instead:

Get lean first and then focus on adding muscle slowly, about .5 pound per week. This means that you need to eat in a caloric surplus of around 250 calories per day.

Anything more than that can lead to a higher potential of fat gain. It’s just a waste of time to add unnecessary fat that you’ll have to cut later on down the road.

Mistake #2: Eating Whatever You Want Because You’re “Bulking”

Eating whatever you want whenever you want simply for the sake of “bulking” is one of the lamest excuses of all time. Do you really think that eating nothing but doughnuts and cool ranch Doritos will get the job done?

Of course it won’t! You still need to be eating high quality foods such as potatoes, brown rice, fish, chicken, fruits, and vegetables the majority of the time.

This way, you’re fueling your body with the right nutrients that it needs to repair itself. Of course this isn’t to say that you have to eat like this 24/7 because I certainly don’t believe in that either.

It’s ok to indulge and treat yourself every now and again, but the main point is that you shouldn’t justify eating junk because you’re trying to gain weight. Remember you’re trying to gain lean muscle not just weight.

Gaining weight could mean gaining fat and that’s not what you want.

Mistake #3: Lacking Patience

I get it. We live in a get rich quick kind of world.

We want results now and we don’t want to wait around. However, when it comes to building muscle, you have to be patient; it doesn’t happen over night.

Yet many guys want it to, so they take drastic measures by eating everything in sight and taking all of the muscle building supplements. Sadly, eating more than is necessary doesn’t speed up the process.

You can only build about .5 pound of muscle a week naturally, and as mentioned earlier, anything more than that increase the risk of gaining fat. This is exactly why being patient with the process is so important.

Seriously, have you ever seen a dramatic 2-week muscle building transformation? Of course you haven’t because it’s hard for a lot to happen in 2-weeks.

Most of the time you’ll see a 6-month or yearlong transformation. Take a step back and enjoy the process.

Focus on the tasks that you need to do for the day in order to become successful. Then watch as you transform over the months to come.

Mistake #4: Focusing on the Pump Instead of This

Training for the pump is a very common mistake that I see all of the time. It’s easy to see why because the pump you get from all of that blood rushing into your muscles feels awesome.

However, once the pump subsides what are you left with?


Instead of training for a feeling that won’t last, train for strength. Strength training is ultimately how you’ll build a dense muscular physique because of a principle called progressive overload.

Progressive overload is simply increasing the amount of stress that you place on a muscle. An example of this would be benching 100 pounds currently and then benching 115 a month later.

You don’t just have to add more weight to the bar, however. You can also use the same weight for more reps or even decrease the rest intervals.

The basic premise is that you need to be making progress when you go in and train. Lifting the same weight for the same reps time and time again will not get you any new results.

Mistake #5: Training with Pyramids

Training with pyramids is one of the worst ways to train of all time. If you don’t know, a pyramid is where you start with a lightweight and do a high amount of reps.

The next set you’ll use a heavier weight and do less reps and so on and so forth. Here’s an example using bench press:

Set 1: 135 pounds for 15 reps

Set 2: 165 pounds for 12 reps

Set 3: 185 pounds for 10 reps

Set 4: 205 pounds for 8 reps

Set 5: 225 pounds for 6 reps

What’s the problem with this? You’re completely fatigued by the time you reach your last set!

This is supposed to be the time when you use the heaviest weight, but you won’t be able to now. As you learned from the previous mistake, progressive overload is very important for muscle growth, and how are you supposed to focus on using heavier weights if you’re already tired?

You simply can’t.

That’s why it’s more beneficial to flip the pyramid upside down and do the exact opposite. Here’s the same example just flipped:

Set 1: 225 pounds for 6 reps

Set 2: 205 pounds for 8 reps

Set 3: 185 pounds for 10 reps

Set 4: 165 pounds for 12 reps

Set 5: 135 pounds for 15 reps

This way you’ll do the hardest set first allowing you to use the heaviest amount of weight possible. Now you can focus on overloading your muscles again and building muscle.

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Mistake #6: Neglecting Your Recovery

I think we sometimes tend to forget that we break down our muscles in the gym, and it’s outside of the gym where they rebuild themselves bigger and stronger. Therefore, recovery is extremely important.

I’m not going to argue that it’s more important than the actual training itself because you have to have both pieces in place for optimal results to occur. However, don’t just train in the gym and think that the job is done when in fact it’s just beginning.

You need to make sure that you’re getting 7-8 hours of sleep each night and drink plenty of water, preferably a gallon of water a day. Also, you don’t need to be killing yourself in the weight room 6 days a week to see results.

In fact, you can maintain muscle mass with just 2 days a week, and make great gains lifting 3, 4, or 5 times a week. For natural lifters though, 6 days a week is really pushing it.

Keep in mind I’m referring strictly to weight lifting 6 days a week not a combination of cardio and weight lifting. At that point, you’re really going to be hindering your ability to recover properly.

Mistake #7: Believing You Need a Bunch of Supplements

Look, I understand. It’s very easy to get caught up in all of the hype that surrounds supplements. You see, a fitness model promotes something and you think that it must be great so what the heck why not give it a try!

The reality is that you need zero supplements to build a great-looking body. It doesn’t matter if your goal is building muscle or burning fat.

Get back to the basics of proper nutrition and training hard on a consistent basis, then you can worry about supplement x or y. Often times though people are more concerned with the latest supplement instead of focusing on what matters most.

Of course I’m not trying to say that all supplements are worthless because there are some good ones out there. Personally, I only use protein powder and creatine.

If you want you could also try fish oil or branch chain amino acids. Remember though, use these supplements once your training and nutrition are in place or else there isn’t any point in taking them.

The Bottom Line

You should now have a good idea of what to avoid if your goal is to build muscle. Sadly most guys will never know this, and they’ll go through the misery of endless bulking and cutting for little results.

Luckily, this doesn’t have to happen to you. You just have to be patient and understand that the muscle building process is slow.

Finally, if you enjoyed this article be sure to share it with your friends on Facebook and Twitter!

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  1. Hello,

    Being a girl, I can not get huge muscles, but constantly I am working on my biceps as I don’t want thin biceps like other girls. But I don’t know, Why i haven’t been able to grow my arm, they are still small like before. I am eating nuts, bananas and drinking Milk after the proper Workout.

    Don’t know, What mistake I am making, but i really want to have good biceps. i want good muscles around my arms.

    ~ Reene

    • tarohmer

      Yeah it’s harder for girls to build muscle due to less testosterone. I’d say hit your biceps hard twice per week with exercises like incline DB curls and barbell curls. Focus on getting stronger in the 5-8 rep range and consume some protein after your workout.