Today I want to discuss something a bit “negative…” But I’m positive it will help you so much!
Part of trying to become an expert in anything is that you are going to make a lot of mistakes along the way, and I surely made some huge muscle building mistakes when I first started working out.
To make matters worse, I made some huge mistakes in and out of the gym for as long as 5 years!
I want you to have much faster progress than me so I want to tell you the top 3 muscle gaining mistakes that cost me AT LEAST 20 lbs. of muscle. I think I could have reached my current physique about 3 years sooner if I had known what I’m about to tell you right now.
Like the old saying goes, “Everybody should learn from mistakes, but nobody ever said they had to be yours.”
Mistake #1: Not Enough Lower Body Compound Exercise Focus
I get so envious when I see young guys in their late teens or early 20’s absolutely crushing it on the squat rack or deadlift. I didn’t get in the “flow” of doing heavy lifts with my lower body until the last few years, and I’ve since fallen in love with lower body compound lifts.
My mentality when I was young was that I was all about the upper body! Seriously, I would get so excited to try and add 5-10 more pounds onto my bench press, when I should have been putting equal if not more energy into improving my squat max and my deadlift max.
There is a big difference going into the gym to train a muscle group and go through the motions without much enthusiasm, verse going in the gym with a razor like focus like you are on a mission to improve your lifts.
When I walk into the gym now I get so excited to hit a new PR on the squat and dead-lift. Back when I was 18 I was scared to squat in front of a bunch of guys because deep down I knew it was my weak point.
This lack of enthusiasm for lower body compound lifts gave me some huge weak points in my back, hamstrings, and quadriceps that I am still trying to make up for to this day.
If you want to reach your maximum potential, you need to hit those lower body compound movements with peak intensity! Even if you don’t care what your legs look like, hit them with intensity knowing that it will bring your entire physique together and actually help you secrete more anabolic hormones as well.
Moral of the story? Don’t skip leg day! In fact, embrace it and LOVE IT!
Mistake #2: Taking Too Many Supplements
Yes, you read that right! Taking too many supplements easily cost me lbs. of precious muscle mass. The thing is, I thought that supplements would compensate for an average or below-average diet.
What was my diet like when I was 18 years old?
Let’s see… After school I headed to subway for a 12-inch subway club sandwich, then I took 2 scoops of Jack3d, then I had some BSN protein after my work, and ate a bag of chips.
Later that night I took some fancy testosterone-boosting pill or nighttime recovery “miracle blend” that some pro bodybuilders said they were taking.
What I really should have been doing was feeding my body full of muscle building whole foods like…
- Organic eggs
- Grass fed meats
- Wild caught salmon
- Red skin potatoes
- Sweet potatoes
- Nutrition boosters like hemp seeds and chia seeds
This is my current diet and it’s no surprise that it’s way more effective for building muscle mass than a shitty diet full of processed foods and protein shakes.
Your body would much rather get protein and carbs from wild caught salmon and sweet potatoes than a whey concentrate and maltodextrin powder.
You’re far better off eating a plate of organic eggs with avocado at night than downing a casein protein shake and taking a “recovery supplement.”
There are a few supplements that can be important and serve a purpose, but in no way shape or form will they compensate for a poor diet. If you think an expensive supplement stack and a poor diet is going to give you better results than sticking with whole food you are a fool! Don’t make the same mistake I made.
Mistake #3: Not Understanding What “Mind-Muscle” Connection Means
This one is huge so let me explain. When you are training a small muscle group such as say your biceps or triceps, you need to put a huge emphasis on “putting your head exactly in the same spot you are trying to train” and squeezing all of the tension on that exact same spot.
For years I thought that doing dumbbell hammer curls was going to give me bigger arms, but if I focused on where I actually felt the tension, I would have realized that there was just as much tension going on my anterior deltoids as my biceps.
Now when I work out my arms I have a huge emphasis on a very close grip because that is where I feel the tension the most on my biceps peak, which is the portion of your arm muscle that will make your bicep appear “taller.”
By channeling my mind-muscle connection I immediately know that if I want bigger biceps a close grip EZ-bar curl is going to be much more effective than a dumbbell hammer curl.
Let’s take this a step further because this needs to be further explained. Many exercises that build the most muscle are actually machine exercises or slow motion compound lifts where you are forced to go down very slow and controlled. When you lower the weight slow and controlled you are actually creating more healthy micro-tears, and have more potential to grow that muscle quickly.
When you are young you usually lower the weight as fast as you can because that is what you see everybody else doing, but by channeling your “mind-muscle connection” and lowering the weight slow and feeling that maximum tension, you are able to grow the muscle so much faster.
The types of training that I have seen the most results from are slow motion, eccentric overload, and FST-7. All three of these training styles require a ton of time under tension to be effective and this means you have maximum “mind-muscle connection.”