By Scott Mooney
SIX STAR AMBASSADOR
1. NOT EATING ENOUGH
A lot of people don’t understand how much quality food it takes to build muscle. You need to focus on what you eat and how much you eat. The types of food are important. You can’t just go out and have Big Macs every day if you want the weight to go to your muscles and not your gut. You need complex carbs like yams and brown rice; protein sources like steak, chicken and fish; and fats like oils and nuts. If you are someone that can’t gain weight while eating fiber-filled foods like these, try white rice, white potatoes or pasta. It is easier to eat more of these types of foods, so you can get down enough calories to grow. Make a plan that works for your body type and stick to it.
2. WORKING OUT TOO MUCH OR TOO OFTEN
What people forget is that lifting weights tears the muscle down. It’s the time you rest that builds muscle. Many people lift weights too often to the point that they’re not giving their muscles enough time to recover. You should try and limit yourself to lifting no more than 2 or 3 days in a row, followed by a full day off. Also, take advantage of muscle group splits (first day is legs, second day is chest, etc.). This allows you time to rest your legs while you train your upper body. Even with splits, you need full days off. Never forget to rest and get enough sleep.
3. NOT TRAINING LEGS
This is most common in male beginners but many people choose to ignore their lower body. Every guy wants bulging biceps and a big chest, so who cares about legs? Well, the fact is your upper body will grow more if the lower body is trained. The human body will only get so unproportioned before it stops growing. The legs are HALF of your body. Training them will naturally boost testosterone levels, which will in turn allow your upper body to grow. Most importantly, though, having a large upper body with scrawny legs looks ridiculous. A well-balanced physique has muscle in every part of your body, not just your chest and arms. Don’t ignore the legs or the back because the workouts are harder. Take pride in your more difficult workouts and focus on crushing them.
4. NOT FOCUSING ON FORM
This one isn’t just a beginner mistake. People are constantly pushing more weight than they are able to. What is the point in going to the gym and lifting weights incorrectly? You’re only going to target the wrong muscles and injure yourself instead. If you’re trying to target your biceps, don’t engage your legs, back and shoulders. Lower the weight and engage your biceps only. Leave your ego at the door and lift properly. It looks foolish when someone is lifting more than they can. The only person you are cheating is yourself. If you have any questions about how to properly do an exercise, ask the staff or hire a personal trainer.
5. NOT FOCUSING ON COMPOUND EXERCISES
This is very important for beginners, but it also goes for anyone who’s in a growing phase. Isolation exercises aren’t going to pack on the mass like big compound movements will. These include squats, deadlifts, chest presses, shoulder presses, rows, leg presses, etc. I cannot emphasize enough the importance of DEADLIFTS. Your physique will thank you. I see everyone bench pressing and only a few doing deadlifts. Deadlifts along with squats are THE best mass builder. Don’t skip them.
6. DOING TOO MUCH CARDIO
Cardio is great for cardiovascular endurance as well as lung and heart health. That being said, if your goal is to grow, then cardio should be kept to a minimum. You don’t want to be burning too many calories while trying to grow. If you feel the absolute need to do cardio, try some sprints or interval training (short bursts of high intensity followed by periods of rest). If you absolutely need to do steady-state cardio, limit it to only 20 minutes a couple times a week.