All around the world, guys are banging away in gyms trying to build new lean muscle…
But getting nowhere.
Wouldn’t you like to know where they are going wrong?
Then you could sidestep their mistakes and head straight to Gainsville, right?
(After all, there’s nothing more frustrating than hitting the gym and having no results to show for it.)
So let’s find out if you are making one of my 5 biggest muscle building mistakes at the moment. And don’t worry if you are (you’re not in the minority), I’ll show you how to fix each one.
The solutions to each issue are back up by the latest scientific research and real-world case studies from inside the gym, so you’re in good hands.
Eat More Protein Every Day
Mistake 1 is an easy one…
Most guys think they are getting enough protein per day, when in fact they are getting nowhere near enough to support their body as it tries to build new muscle tissue!
If you want to pack size on, the latest science shows us that you need to be grabbing up to 3.3 grams of protein per kg of body weight. If you prefer working in pounds, that’s 1.5 grams per lb.
So if your body weight is 80kg (176lbs), you should be aiming for upto 264 grams of protein per day.
The reason I say “up to” is because this isn’t a one size fits all recommendation.
You should set a starting point of 2.6g per kg of body weight (1.2g per lb body weight) and experiment with your results, building up to the higher end of the spectrum if necessary.
The reason being that those higher protein intake numbers won’t actually help you to build more lean muscle than the figures above. The cut off point for natural athletes and protein intake (for muscle building purposes) appears to be 2.6g per kg (1.2g per lb). But going higher will simply help you to minimize fat gain while you do so.
So if you feel like you’re gaining muscle on 2.6g per kg (1.2g per lb) but also gaining a little body fat, step up the protein intake gradually and work towards the top end of the scale at 3.3g per kg (1.5g per lb).
Or jump in at the deep end and do it from day one.
Make Compound Exercises Your Priority
You trying to get bigger, bro?
Try this single-armed plate press variation my pal showed me from this month’s edition of Men’s Health magazine…. It’s killer…
When you are trying to build a bigger, more muscular physique your training priority becomes multi-joint exercises.
Barbell squat, deadlift, bench press, military press, barbell clean, lunges, bent-over barbell row…
These are your bread and butter, my friend.
These are known as compound exercises, and they’ll recruit multiple muscle groups at the same time, firing up more muscle fibers and creating a bigger growth hormone spike in the process.
The majority of guys telling me they “can’t get any bigger” are spending way too much time performing wrist curls and cable flyes!
Muscle isn’t built in the gym.
Sure, the process begins with you clunking heavy iron objects around, but that’s not where the real “magic” happens.
The cold, hard, head-turning lean muscle you’re trying to build actually forms during the recovery phase which comes in the 24 hour period following your workout.
Sleep is hugely beneficial to muscle growth, too, but what I’m really talking about here is structuring your workout routine correctly.
So when gaining muscle size is the goal, we must allow sufficient time for our body to recover between sessions.
I’m not talking about overtraining. Muscle building magazines will have you believe you’re overtraining if you workout more than 3x per week, but it’s a lot more difficult to overtrain in real life. What I’m talking about here is more like under-recovery.
I explain this to clients using a technique I call “The Wall”.
Think of your muscles as a brick wall.
You’re not happy with that wall, so you knock it down and build it back up a little bigger and stronger. When you hit the gym, that’s exactly what’s happening to your muscles. You’re breaking them down, and they’ll come back bigger and stronger after a recovery phase following this session.
Now imagine knocking down that original wall and building it back up exactly the same, and repeat, never getting any bigger or any stronger. That would be silly, right?
Well, when you hit the gym the next day and smash a muscle again without adequate recovery, that’s essentially what you’re doing to your muscles! They haven’t had a chance to recover yet and, as such, you’re never maximizing your potential for growth.
You can still hit the gym 5-6 days per week, don’t worry, just get a little smarter with your routine in order to allow certain body parts sufficient time to heal form the last session.
Skipping Leg Day
The majority of guys who ask me how to build muscle are often referring to their chest, arms and shoulders as the problem areas.
But let me tell you why your physique really looks like s**t.
It’s your legs.
But not for the reason you might think…
Some people falsely refer to a belief that training legs spikes growth hormone, and this carries over to help your full body grow.
This isn’t true, as the growth hormone spike isn’t big or long enough to carry over to pending sessions, although if you hit a small muscle group immediately after training legs you can certainly take advantage of it (good to know if you have a problem area you’d like to bring up, huh?). (3)
Instead, I want you to take a look at The Rock.
What do you see?
Make no mistake about it. if you absolutely hammer your legs and build an impressive set of wheels, you will look like a f**king monster in the gym.
A good pair of legs have the unique ability of being able to set a physique on fire.
This is another reason to hammer your big compound lifts, as many of them require heavy lower body work (squats, deadlifts, lunges, etc).
Regularly training legs has many benefits, and one of them is providing a better platform for your upper body to grow. Not because of the growth hormone spike myth, but because you’ll have a much greater foundation when setting up for exercises. Just watch how much your strength in moves like the bent-over barbell row explodes after taking the time to build strong hamstrings.
Mark my words.
Always Doing 8-12 Reps
I’ll have to be quiet when I tell you this final suggestion, because someone from bodybuilding.com might come smash my door down and dump in my protein shaker.
You see, many fitness magazines and popular websites advise people to stick solely to the 8-12 rep range in order to maximize muscle growth.
I don’t believe you should do this.
In fact, I believe it’ll do you good to get out of that zone from time-to-time, and it’s a technique which has certainly worked for my clients over the years.
I’m not saying doing 8-12 reps per set is wrong. It’s the golden sweet spot for maximizing lean muscle growth and strength gains at the same time. But that’s not the point. Variety is the key to success in the weights room, and one of the easiest ways to provide it is to move your rep range every so often.
Dropping yourself into the 1-5 rep range will greatly enhance your strength and improve neuromuscular connection. Those extra strength benefits will be noticeable when you return to the 8-12 rep range, as you’ll be able to hoist significantly larger dumbbells around the place.
Likewise, hitting the upper reaches of the rep range (think 15-25 reps per set) is great for improving the muscular endurance aspect of your training.
Improving your ability to be able to push through lactic acid build-up during a tough set (the nasty burning sensation which forms in your muscle as it nears complete failure) is priceless when you return to the 8-12 rep range.
Further still, higher reps will build just as much lean muscle as lower reps!
This was demonstrated in a 2013 study published in the Journal of Applied Physiology, where two groups of trainees using either an 8-12 rep range or a 15-25 rep range stimulated the exact same amount of lean muscle growth across a ten week program. (4)
You can read more about the benefits of high reps vs low reps here.
And that just about wraps up my tips for the day. Have you enjoyed my 5 biggest muscle building mistakes?
If so, share it on social media. If you found it helpful, others will too. Plus, it’ll make you look smart as f**k. Get on my email list below for future tips.
- Leaf, A., et al. The Effects of Overfeeding on Body Composition: The Role of Macronutrient Composition – A Narrative Review. Int J Exerc Sci. (2017)
- Antonio, J., et al. A high protein diet (3.4 g/kg/d) combined with a heavy resistance training program improves body composition in healthy trained men and women–a follow-up investigation. J Int Soc Sports Nutr. (2015)
- Ronnestad, B. R., et al. Physiological Elevation Of Endogenous Hormones Results In Superior Strength Training Adaptation. Eur J Appl Physiol. (2011)
- Mitchell, C. J., et al. Resistance Exercise Load Does Not Determine Training-Mediated Hypertrophic Gains In Young Men. J Appl Physiol. (2012)