If you've ever set foot in a gym, chances are you've repeatedly heard the same well-intended advice: weight-lifting is the key to building muscle. While that's true, it doesn't always tell the whole story - making mistakes while strength training can do more harm than good when beefing up your muscles.
Whether motivated by a "quick fix" mentality or sheer ignorance, many people repeatedly make these same mistakes when starting an exercise routine. To help save you some time, this article will explore the 10 absolute worst muscle-building blunders beginner lifters should avoid at all costs.
10 Worst Muscle-Building Mistakes That Beginners Make
Starting a muscle-building journey can be intimidating due to the amount of information out there and the amount of time it takes to achieve results.
Unfortunately, many beginners make mistakes that may prevent them from effectively building muscle. The ten worst mistakes that a newbie bodybuilder often makes include the following:
1. Not Resting Enough
One of the biggest mistakes a beginner can make is not resting enough. Not getting sufficient rest can lead to diminished progress and injuries due to overtraining or improperly recovering from workouts. Without sufficient downtime, muscles don't have time to rebuild, leading to soreness and fatigue that hinder performance.
Furthermore, giving inadequate time between intense workouts leads to depleting energy stores which can leave you feeling drained in your next session instead of energized and ready to give it your all.
Beginners need to remember that while exercise is paramount in building muscle strength, getting an adequate amount of rest needs to be part of their routine as well.
2. Training Too Long or Often
When starting, it's easy to fall into the trap of believing that longer or more frequent sessions mean better progress. However, this is not necessarily true. Over-training can have several negative consequences, such as increasing fatigue and reducing gains over time.
Beginners need to remember that rest plays an integral role in developing physical strength, so proper scheduling breaks is essential when establishing an effective muscle-building routine.
If you are a novice weightlifter, take your time easing into it and gradually increase your workout schedule and routine as your body becomes more muscled and accustomed to exercise.
Taking it slow will save you energy, prevent injury, and help to improve results more efficiently than an overly intensive regimen.
3. Too Much Cardio
While cardio is essential for overall health and endurance, too much can derail your muscle-building progress. All forms of exercise have their place, but if your goal is to build muscle, you should limit the amount of aerobic exercise, as it can put too much stress on muscles while trying to recover and adapt from weight training.
Cardio will burn off a lot of the calories needed for building muscle mass, reduce testosterone levels and increase the risk of injury due to fatigue.
If you are doing aerobic exercise for more than two days a week and not seeing results with your weight-lifting routine, consider cutting back substantially or stopping this form of exercise altogether until your muscle-building goals are met.
4. Lifting Too Heavy of Weight
Overloading your muscles during a workout can be one of the worst mistakes that a beginner can make. Too heavy weight can lead to excess stress on your ligaments and joints, which can result in injury or even lead to long-term health issues like chronic back pain.
Additionally, incorrect form when lifting too much weight can increase the chance of tearing muscles, straining tendons, and potentially causing even more severe damage.
Not only does lifting too heavy a weight fail to ensure proper form, which is crucial for developing muscles correctly, but it also puts an immense strain on tendons and leads to overtraining very quickly.
Worst of all, it may even result in pain due to tearing the muscle fibers. For safe and effective results when weight training as a beginner, it is important to start from lower weights and gradually increase it as form improves over time.
5. Not Pushing Oneself Hard Enough
Pushing oneself too hard during a workout is not the only error beginners make when trying to build muscle. One of the worst mistakes is not pushing yourself hard enough.
Allowing yourself to go through exercises at a comfortable pace and intensity can lead to limited results and stagnation in your muscle growth.
Rather than working out in an unfocused manner, beginners should challenge themselves by increasing the weight or duration of their workouts as soon as they feel ready. The goal should be to stimulate the muscles effectively and push their limits if they want to make real gains in muscle building.
6. Relying on Motivation
When starting any muscle-building program, beginners rely too heavily on motivation. While having a goal and staying motivated can help keep you on track to reach it, being disciplined in your daily routine and diet is essential to achieve sustainable results.
Unfortunately, motivation cycles in and out, while discipline must remain constant.
Without the combination of both, you won't get the desired outcome from your bodybuilding goals; instead, it can become detrimental to your journey if left alone for too long.
If you want to begin building muscle quickly and effectively, stay disciplined—know where you are going and how to get there—and not just hope for motivation regularly.
7. Relying Too Much on Isolation Exercises
Beginners often fall into the trap of relying too heavily on isolation exercises while neglecting compound exercises. Isolation exercises isolate a certain muscle or muscle group, while compound exercises work two or more muscles simultaneously.
While isolation exercises can help target a particular area of the body that needs extra attention if used only, they may lead to imbalances in strength and development, and increased risk for injury as other muscles remain weak.
Compound exercises activate more muscles than isolation and build foundational strength and stability that isolation alone won't provide. A balanced exercise program should combine both types of exercises to create optimum performance and results.
Related Article: Compound Vs. Isolation Exercises
8. Poor Rest Between Sets
A lot of times people go from set to set without taking a proper rest between. This will cause ineffective sets and reps. It is important to take anywhere from 30 seconds to 2 minutes between sets. What this does is allow you to temporarily recover from work you just did and approach your next set with the same intensity. This will lead to better gains and also reduce the risk of injury by allowing you to have better form.
9. Changing Workouts Too Soon
It's easy to get bored with a certain workout routine, and the temptation to switch to something new often arises. However, you should avoid changing your workouts too soon. The body needs time to adjust and develop a strong foundation to handle heavier loads, faster tempos, and more challenging exercises.
If you switch routines or start something completely different before this has occurred, your gains will stall, and you won't make any progress. Creating a solid plan that builds off the prior week yields better long-term results than planning an exciting yet random schedule.
Related Article: 12 Ways to Switch Up Your Muscle-Building Routine
10. Not Enough Patience
Working out as a beginner can be intimidating, but remember: Rome wasn't built in a day! It's important to keep patience in mind while beginning your fitness journey. Rushing into weight-lifting or punishing yourself too hard too soon can lead to muscle fatigue and injury, which can quickly deter you from progressing further.
Taking the time to focus on building proper form and understanding the fundamentals of an exercise will make all the difference in getting results in the long term. It may result in injury and setback progress.
Taking things slow and gradually progressing allows for more flexibility, which can increase potential gains in strength and size. Patience while working out as a beginner pays off.
The Bottom Line
If you're just starting your muscle-building journey, avoid making these 10 mistakes. These common errors can lead to less-than-optimal results; in some cases, they can even be dangerous. Following this article's advice, you'll set yourself up for success from the beginning.