Five mistakes you’re making when trying to build muscle, according to fitness experts

Staying consistent with your muscle-building workout routine is essential – not just for your body but also for your mind, to train yourself into a habit of exercising. However, it’s easier said than done when you struggle to see results to build muscle.

Fortunately, fitness equipment company Mirafit have highlighted five mistakes you might be making when trying to build muscle for you to avoid.

You don’t get enough sleep

Sleep can often be overlooked when it comes to exercise; you may think that sacrificing a good night’s sleep to wake up early for a workout will benefit your fitness goals, but if you do this consistently, it could be the reason you don’t see results.

A minimum of 7 hours of sleep each night is crucial for building muscle; without this, your testosterone production will decrease, an essential hormone for muscle building in men and women. Because of this, your cortisol levels will be higher, which breaks down muscle mass and will hinder your progress. As well as this, your body won’t have enough energy to push yourself when you work out, so it will be more of a challenge to lift heavier weights, which is vital for muscle growth. If you wake up early to exercise, sleeping earlier at night will tackle this problem.

Your form is incorrect

Your form should always be a priority in your workouts to ensure you are targeting the intended muscles, particularly over the weight you lift – with improper form, you will see little to no progress and face the risk of strains, sprains, and tears.

Ego lifting is one of the main causes of incorrect form, a term used to describe someone who tries to lift heavier than they can handle, and it therefore impacts form; it’s crucial only to lift weights where you can still complete a rep slowly and with the correct technique. Doing so will ensure that you’re targeting the right muscles and will allow you to increase your weights gradually. On top of this, warming up with no weight can help you practice your form, which is particularly beneficial for beginners.

You’re overtraining

While it’s essential to work out regularly to see results, there’s such a thing as working out too much, causing your chemicals like glycogen and testosterone to be out of sync in your body. Overtraining can not only cause muscle soreness, which will prevent you from reaching your full potential when exercising, but it can also lead to injuries like sprains, resulting in time off from the gym.

Rest days are key for muscle growth, giving them time to repair and replenish the glycogen stores to prepare for your next workout. Generally, you should wait at least 48 hours before training the same muscle group, as well as factoring in at least one complete rest day each week. As well as this, avoid excessively long workouts and increasing intensity and volume abruptly. You can also keep track of your workouts, including your exercises, reps, sets, and rests, to help you to recognise if you are overtraining. As always, it is important to consult a doctor or a professional before undertaking strenuous exercise.

Gareth Sapstead, world-respected strength and physique coach, has commented on the issues of overtraining:

“In an ideal world, if you put the most time and effort into your training, then you should be rewarded by seeing the fastest growth in muscle and changes to your physique. Unfortunately, that just isn’t the case.”

“Training is a stressor, and it is the careful balance of stress and recovery that will ultimately determine how fast your body changes as a result of your workouts. Everyone has a unique capacity for how much stress their body can handle (i.e., an optimal level of stress). Too little will leave progress on the table, while too much can result in overtraining and the negative effects that come with it.”

You need to alter your diet

Two of the critical components of a muscle-building diet are protein and calories. A high-calorie intake allows your damaged muscle tissue to regrow after a workout, while foods high in protein provide your body with amino acids which help your muscles repair and rebuild.

It’s important to remember that increasing your calorie intake doesn’t necessarily need to be unhealthy, as you can opt for foods like oats, avocado, and brown rice; on the other hand, boiled eggs, chicken breast, and Greek yoghurt are just a few examples of healthy high-protein foods to add to your diet.

You do too much cardio

There’s no doubt that cardio has many benefits for your health, including weight loss and lowering blood pressure – but too much of this can hinder your muscle-building progress.

Cardio burns off lots of calories that are important for muscle growth while also reducing testosterone levels, which contributes to muscle growth by generating proteins. As well as this, cardio causes fatigue, meaning you’re unlikely to perform as well during muscle-building workouts. Two cardio workouts each week is typically enough to reap the benefits without preventing the muscle-building progress, but if you’re still not seeing results, try a shorter workout or cut back to once a week.

Gareth Sapstead from Mirafit has commented:

There’s an abundance of information surrounding exercise, specifically regarding muscle-building, and it can be overwhelming for fitness enthusiasts to take in; in some cases, it may even cause a loss of motivation.”

“However, once you understand the mistakes that may be preventing muscle growth, you can learn to fix any bad habits to start seeing results, whether that be your diet or your form. Everyone was once a beginner in the gym, so mistakes are common – but it’s important to stay determined and always be open to learning information surrounding fitness to help you on your journey.”