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The 5 Most Common Muscle-Building Mistakes

by
author image Nate Green
Nate Green is an author, speaker and a “marketing and ideas guy” for Precision Nutrition, which was selected as one of the world’s most innovative fitness companies by Fast Company magazine. Nate writes about health and fitness, working remotely, relationships, minimalism and self-awareness.
The 5 Most Common Muscle-Building Mistakes
Never fear, scrawny bros and gals -- you CAN get bigger. Photo Credit Hero Images/Getty Images

Here's the unfortunate reality for most skinny folks: You can train a few times per week, eat healthy food and still struggle to build muscle and lose fat. Trust me, I know. When I first started working out, I almost gave up.

Despite investing hundreds of hours lifting weights, I had little to show for it. After months of frustration, I was ready to call it quits.

Read More: The 6 Rules of Gaining Muscle Mass

Luckily, I got help. Learning from coaches and mentors, I gained over 40 pounds of muscle and completely changed my life. Now it's my turn to pay it forward and share what I've learned with you.

Imagine your mom's voice: "Eat more! You're too skinny!"
Imagine your mom's voice: "Eat more! You're too skinny!" Photo Credit ehaurylik/AdobeStock

Mistake 1: You Don’t Eat Enough Food

Surprised? If you're not as muscular as you want to be, you aren't eating nearly enough. Most thin people have a metabolism faster than a hummingbird hooked on caffeine.

To combat a crazy-fast metabolism and put some muscle onto your frame, you simply have to eat more food than you're eating now.

I'm not asking you to turn into a calorie-counting machine, but you should take a closer look at what you're consuming. You'll probably have to eat a whole lot more — just make sure that you're eating more healthy foods, particularly lean proteins.

Solution: Eat more of the right foods. Not eating enough food is part of the problem, but not eating the right foods is another issue. You'll need to make sure to include high quality protein, fiber and good fats in most of your meals.

Read More: 8 Must-Have Veggies for Building Muscle

Protein shakes are an easy way to boost your calorie intake.
Protein shakes are an easy way to boost your calorie intake. Photo Credit shevtsovy/AdobeStock

An easy way to do this is by drinking shakes. Drinking three Super Shakes (recipe below) every day will provide your body with lots of calories, which will jump-start the muscle-building process. All you need is a blender and a few basic ingredients:

Super Shake

Add 3-5 ice cubes

Pick a frozen fruit

Toss in some spinach

Add 2 scoops of protein powder

Add 1/3 cup of mixed nuts

Add 1 cup of unsweetened almond milk

Mistake 2: You’re Not Consistent With Your Workout Program

Some people take the old bodybuilding saying, "keep your body guessing" to crazy lengths. But guys who get great results understand they only have to do two simple things: Pick a program that's made for you. Follow the program for at least two months.

Most people never build muscle because they're too impatient to actually stick with a workout routine.

Solution: Stick to a program for at least 2 months. Pick a program with compound movements and heavy lifting and stick to it for at least two months. During each week of the program, make sure you find a way to work harder or do better every workout. I suggest lifting heavier weights, doing more repetitions and shortening your rest periods.

Mistake 3: You Collect Too Much Information

Do you read a couple articles on working out and nutrition every day, but routinely skip the gym? We call this "analysis paralysis." You get so used to reading fitness articles you forget to actually do what the articles suggest.

Solution: Everything in moderation. Start by going on a one-week fitness media diet. No reading fitness magazines, books, or online articles for a full seven days. After that, set aside a specific amount of time dedicated to reading fitness content a week.

Mistake 4: You Don’t Measure Progress

The easiest way to stay skinny is to never track your stats or measure your progress. That's why successful guys measure how much weight they lifted in the gym and how many meals they eat. The more things you measure, the more progress you'll see.

Read More: How to Do the Perfect Push-Up in 4 Steps

Did you add 1/2 an inch of muscle to your chest? You'd never know if you didn't measure. Measuring your progress and keeping track of your workout, measurements and nutrition stats helps show you what you need to do to keep getting results.

Solution: Keep a workout journal and track your weight. Get a training journal and write down the basics: sets, reps and how much weight you used. Also, make it a weekly habit to step on the scale to see if you are gaining weight and take your measurements.

Save yourself time and frustration and get a coach.
Save yourself time and frustration and get a coach. Photo Credit nd3000/AdobeStock

Mistake 5: You Don’t Have a Coach or Social Support

You don't get thrown into a calculus class and expect to pass, especially if you don't know the subject matter. Instead, you have a teacher and with their help, you figure out how to do the work and ace the class.

People who don't know how to build muscle will save themselves months of frustration by finding a coach to help show them the way.

Having a coach or an awesome training partner will help you go to the gym consistently and they’ll get you to push yourself harder on tough exercises.

Solution: Find a coach or training partner. Find someone who's done what you want to do, and ask for their advice. See what kind of habits they follow and then do the exact same thing.

What to Do Next

After each mistake above, I gave you a proven solution to build muscle. But if you tried to follow all of those at one time, you'd probably get frustrated and fail. Suddenly you'd be back to where you started.

Instead of overloading yourself, pick any one of the solutions mentioned above that apply to you and and try doing just that one for the next two weeks. After that, move on to another and another until you're soon following every habit consistently.

Do these five things, and you'll be ahead of 99 percent of people who try to build muscle and get in shape.

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