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The 3 Worst Muscle Building Mistakes

The 3 Worst Muscle Building Mistakes

When it comes to building muscle and getting that big, lean physique, most lifters think they’ve got things all figured out. Truth is, even with all the information available out there, the average gym rat is still making HUGE mistakes with his training and diet! Here are three of the worst muscle building mistakes you can make. Avoid these pitfalls, and watch your gains take off to new heights…

Mistake 1: Not Getting Enough Protein

If you’ve been doing your homework on a proper muscle building diet (and you should be!), then you’ve probably heard almost every trainer, bodybuilder, and nutrition guru extol the benefits of a high-protein diet for building muscle. Even so, most lifters don’t get nearly enough protein! It amazes me that so many trainers still recommend LESS than 1 gram of COMPLETE protein per pound of bodyweight. For any male who’s small and at least relatively lean, that should be but a baseline.

Fats and carbs surely have their place, and if you’re a skinny guy, you’ll need lots of them. But it’s protein, especially animal proteins like meat and eggs, that provide your body with the amino acids to actually BUILD new muscle tissue after you tear it down in the gym with heavy weight lifting. If you’re training as hard as possible and as often as possible, then you’re going to need a boatload of protein to recover and grow!

So, just in case you’re still in the dark, a good BASELINE for your daily protein intake is one gram per pound of bodyweight. However, if you’re really skinny or really struggling to put on weight, you might want to bump that up. 1.25 or even 1.5 grams of protein per pound of bodyweight might be what you need! And to be clear, only count the protein from COMPLETE sources – meats, poultry, eggs, dairy, and whey protein are your staples. The incidental amounts of protein in grains, nuts, and other foods you eat do NOT count because they do not contain all of the essential amino acids. ( Read this article for more info of the exact amount of protein you need )

Mistake 2: Not Training for Strength

Open up any muscle magazine on the shelf at your grocery store or supplement shop, and you’ll probably find tons of training articles supposedly written by pro bodybuilders. More often than not, these articles prescribe routines where you “bomb” a certain muscle group with lots of exercises, sets, and reps with a moderate weight. Rarely, if ever, do they talk about how to get STRONG!

Now, high-volume, blood-pumping, burn-inducing training certainly has its place in some lifters’ routines, especially for advanced bodybuilders. However, the real key to a beginner’s training is tangible, no-BS strength gains! Think getting a huge pump and burn in your pecs is going to give you a herculean chest? Think doing leg extensions until you can’t stand the pain is really going to give you tree-trunk thighs? Think again! You’ve got to move some serious iron to develop a thick, dense base of muscle mass.

There are tons of exercises and routines out there, but truth be told, the majority of your gains are going to come from gradually going up in weight on the most basic of movements. Squats, deadlifts, presses, and rows ( See a video of all these exercises here ) should be your staples, along with a few key accessory movements like chins, dips, and curls. It may not sound fancy or sexy, but that is what WORKS! Want bigger arms? Try adding a hundred pounds to your bench press, weighted pull-up, and curl. I guarantee that will do more for the beginner lifter than endless sets of light curls and extensions.

Mistake 3: Poor Lifestyle Choices

One thing bodybuilders are often known for is living a Spartan, even hermit-like lifestyle. In order to maximize their gains and perfect every aspect of their training, nutrition, and rest, some lifters will forgo any and all drinking, partying, and even just staying out late. Do you need to be this strict? Probably not. But, do you need to make sure your lifestyle fits your goals?


If you think that you can afford to stay out late and get drunk multiple times per week and still make anywhere NEAR optimal progress in your lifting and weight gain, you’ve got another thing coming. For one thing, alcohol consumption has been shown time and again to limit muscular gains AND make it easier for your body to pack on fat. You might have the kind of metabolism where you don’t have to worry about getting a beer gut, but don’t think that allows you any leeway when it comes to getting big and strong!

Even more importantly, the party lifestyle makes it damn near impossible to get enough rest to train hard, recover, and grow. If you’ve got a job, school, or other big time commitments, then something’s got to give – partying or lifting. Alcohol and nutrition issues aside, there simply aren’t enough hours in the day to give full attention to responsibilities, training, AND partying / drinking.

All of that having been said, you do not need to forgo a social life in order to make progress with your strength and muscular development. You’re simply going to have to figure out what works for you and where your priorities really lie. If you are one of the lucky few who can stay out late and drink multiple times per month and still get bigger, good for you. However, most will need to find some sort of balance and make some sacrifices here and there. Like any other worthwhile endeavor, making consistent, tangible progress with your lifting is a lifestyle, not just a hobby.

Artcile by Sixpackfactory Muscle Building Expert and Top Fitness Model Justin Woltering. Get more info on Justin at:

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  1. Bogdan
    October 5, 2011
    6:00 pm

    Thanks for the advices.Now I know I’m going the right way 😀

  2. Mike Power
    October 5, 2011
    6:08 pm

    Someone should have told the great body builder, Bill Pearl.
    It’s a myth that you need lots of animal protein to build muscle.
    But very handy advice if you’re making money from the sale of protein supplements.
    A normal, balanced diet containing sufficient calories for the level of excercise you are doing is perfectly sufficient for muscle growth.

  3. peter
    October 5, 2011
    10:19 pm

    A normal balanced diet might be good to maintain your muscle and to be healthy in general but if you want to build extra muscle you will need extra protein. Most bodybuilders also get lots of their protein from real food, not just supplements. And nope, vegetable sources do NOT have the full spectrum of amino acids and that is fact. Having said all of that, YES you can combine different NON animal protein foods to get the protein you need to build muscle but it will be a lot harder and will take a lot more planning. Getting it from animal proteins are just easier.

  4. Mike Power
    October 5, 2011
    6:13 pm

    By theway the idea that vegetable sources don’t provide all the essential amino acids was disproved many years ago but is still perpetuated for some strange reason. A mixed vegetarian diet, let alone a lacto-vegetarian diet or normal mixed diet provides all the essential amino acids the body requires.

  5. Clint
    October 5, 2011
    6:15 pm

    Thanks for another great article Peter.

    Something I am really interested in at the moment is how to best come back to a full training regime after a serious injury. In my particular case I dislocated my shoulder and fractured it in 2 places in December. Doctors have said to do whatever training I can and feel my way back into it. They have however warned that anything that requires my arms to be in the air from chest height or above can be risky as the shoulder is at its most vulnerable then.
    Have you got any articles on to best diet and train when you have had a serious injury and how to make a come back to be in better shape than you were prior to being injured?

    Thanks again and all the best,

  6. peter
    October 5, 2011
    10:21 pm

    Did you go for rehab?

  7. Luciano
    October 5, 2011
    6:24 pm

    @ Mike Power- you are speaking nonsense. If you had any experience in nutrition, you would notice the positive effect that a high protein diet has on muscle gains. I have personally noticed it and so have many other professional athletes.

  8. Mike Power
    October 5, 2011
    6:27 pm

    3 worst mistakes? Not using strict form. Not training with intensity to failure. Overtraining and insufficient rest. and here’s a fouth: Failing to keep records and ensure you are progressing to heavier weights properly and at the right time.

  9. Steve C
    October 6, 2011
    9:32 am

    @Mike Power. Bravo for saying it. The constant claim from “Fitness Experts” that one needs to eat lots of meat to get enough protein is BS. I’ve know plenty of vegetarian builders and had a trainer who rarely ate any meat but was in the best shape of anyone I have ever met. The fitness world needs to wake up and become more veg friendly.

  10. peter
    October 6, 2011
    10:06 am

    @ Steve, nobody said it is not possible; it makes it a LOT harder. Even the vegan bodybuilders out there will tell you it is a lot more complicated to do. So getting protein from animal foods is easier full stop and I will continue to tell my clients to get their protein from animal foods if they can because even then they already struggle to get in enough protein as they have real lives. For someone other than people who can focus all day on making sure they get all the protein in from the veg foods they need , doing this will be very difficult but not impossible. But if you have the will and you don’t eat meat then sure you can get enough protein in to build muscle. However, I am yet to see anyone get as big as Jay Cutler eating non animal protein so yes, you can get into amazing shape, build muscle etc by getting protein from veg, but there is a difference between being in amazing shape and having a fitness model physique and competing at the VERY TOP. I am not PRO this or that, I am just someone who is 100% realistic and who knows how people struggle every day to just get time to eat healthy in general. So if you now want to take it to the next level and eat to build serious muscle and you want to do so by only getting protein from veg foods, you better be super committed and have a lot of time on your hands! BTW: Justin and I are very highly qualified and are not SO CALLED Fitness Experts, we are Experts : ) And as you can see we don’t just delete your comments, we respond and debate them with you as that is the only way we all learn more each day.

  11. peter
    October 6, 2011
    10:24 am

    BTW: If you want to see what can be done on a vegan diet, check out these top athletes :

  12. John
    October 6, 2011
    10:14 am

    I have started six week transformation and after first to days I’m feeling muscle hurt all over the body so I would like to know should I take a rest until the muscle pain is gone, or continue normally to rest day. Also I’ve lost 2-3 lbs already is that normal?

  13. peter
    October 6, 2011
    10:21 am

    A lot of the weight lost in the first few days is water. You could take a rest and just focus on cardio for a day or two.

  14. Daniela
    October 6, 2011
    11:13 am

    I agree with peter on this one that is must be convenient and realistic. You can get protein in from veggies and non animal products but most people struggle to get enough protein in even when they eat meat etc, so its really unrealistic on a vegan diet. I love sixpackfactory and Peter’s opinions, because he focuses on being realistic and he has an independent point of view. I personally do eat meat but i also try one or twice per week not to have meat at all and get my protein in from other sources, which is tough. I’m obviously female so don’t care as much about bulking up but about health etc.

  15. elie ray
    October 16, 2011
    9:42 am

    Hey guys, hope there is a physician or trainer who could help me.I have a lower back pain ,and it is due to a disc ,so how to train and is it acceptable to do deadlift and squat??

  16. peter
    October 16, 2011
    5:20 pm

    I would suggest you get a physio involved to help you get a rehab progarm to make sure you don’t hurt it any further.

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