A Beginners Guide to Muscle Building: 5 Mistakes to Avoid



If Fat-Guy-with-Pink-Dumbbellyou are just getting started with weight training, it can be confusing. You don’t know exactly who you to listen to, everybody seems to have the answers. If you are a complete novice it can be totally over whelming. Do you do straight sets or supersets or giant sets? Do you need post workout carbs? Should you do a split or full body routine? What about high reps to ‘tone’? If you do a Google search on ‘weightlifting for beginners’ there are over 568k results. That is one variation of one term. Everybody has an opinion, from your fat co-worker who thinks they know the best way to get ripped, to Dr. Oz who seems put his name on anything and everything under the sun, provided they pay him for it.   Just a word of advice, the vast majority of information you need to transform your body is available online for free. Browse this website and you’ll get more information than you know what to do with, all without paying a penny. 

There are no natural shortcuts to fat loss, and muscle building.  If anybody is promoting a new way to lose weight easily, whether it is by detox, by a special wrap, or a certain pill, don’t buy it. There are no shortcuts, PERIOD. The only thing that will transform your body is YOU, through CONSISTENT HARD WORK.

Okay, I’ll get off my soapbox now and move onto five common mistakes I see in the gym.

1. Toning. You know, those people that don’t want to get big and bulky, they just want to ‘tone’. The rock solid reasoning behind it? They at one point saw a bodybuilder who was under the obvious use of performance enhancing drugs, and this bodybuilder was massively jacked. Hence, all people that lift weights will get big and jacked, lol. NOT THE CASE.   That just isn’t how it works.  Those that advocate ‘toning’ advise you to lift with very light weight, and in the rep range of 12-15 or even more! Their reasoning is that by doing this your muscles won’t get bigger, but instead they will lengthen and get more firm, giving you a ‘toned’ look.  Such a bunch of garbage!!!! For all of you that believe that or have been told that, get it out of your head. It does not work like that at all.  In life, when do you grow personally? When you are going through a challenge, right? Same with your muscles! They grow when you push them to their limit and force them to work, and progress each and every workout. How do you do this? By lifting heavy weight and progressively advancing each workout, not by lifting pink dumbbells for a 35 rep bench press. 

2. Advanced Routines. If you are just getting started, it is important to learn to walk before you run. In other words, learn the basics. Build a strong foundation.  Learn how to properly perform the great, classic fat burning, muscle building exercises like the barbell bench press, squat, deadlift, barbell shoulder press, bent over row, pull-up, the plank, etc. The amount of progress you can make on these exercises alone is astounding.  If there is one thing you take from this article, take this: Learn how to do these exercises. They will build a foundation that will last a lifetime.  For the vast majority of people getting into weightlifting and looking to transform their body a 3 day full body workout that incorporates these lifts will help you progress more both strength wise and aesthetically than you ever imagined possible. This will only happen though if you apply yourself and push yourself harder each and every workout. To make sure you can do these exercises properly, get feedback from a gym veteran, or record yourself on your phone performing them, and then upload them online to get feedback.  Even as you advance into split routines, these exercises should be the basis for nearly every workout you perform in the future. 

3. Too Many Supplements. I know supplement manufacturers would have you believe that their protein is clinically proven to increase strength 958% more than the competition. Or that their proprietary blend in their fat burner is so effective that you just need to look at the bottle and you’ll immediately begin melting fat off. Sound too good to be true? Ya. Is it too good to be true? Ya. Don’t buy into it. For the majority of lifters, some fish oil, a mult-vitamin and some protein will be all you need. Even then, they aren’t an absolute necessity, but hardly anybody can argue that taking in those 3 supplements won’t help.  Most supplements out there on the market aren’t going to give you the added benefit that they claim, so don’t waste your money or too much time reading up on them, or worse yet, your money buying them. 

4. Too Heavy of Weights. One of the trickiest things when getting started is to know how much weight to lift. After you have been lifting a while you will get a feel for how much weight to use for most exercises. But at the beginning it is hard. Let me give you a few tips. When lifting, you should be able to lift slowly and in a controlled fashion. Learn the proper form (like I mentioned above); continually practice your form so you don’t get sloppy. Lifting weight that is too heavy puts you at a great risk for an injury AND it doesn’t allow you to properly develop the right muscles for the lift you are doing. I’ve tried to go too heavy before too, and I ended up out of the gym for a week with back spasms.  Fortunately for me, I was only out a week, but it could’ve been much, much worse. Don’t be too scared of lifting heavy weights and go to the opposite end of the spectrum, and lift the pink dumbbells. The proper weight will allow you to lift with correct form, but be challenging at the same time. 

5. Crappy Diet. Do you want to seriously slow your progress in pursuit of your dream body? Then try some of the ridiculous suggestions you hear out there: completely eliminated food groups, ‘detox your body’, and go on an extremely low calorie diet. Seriously man, don’t fall prey to this nonsense. It will at best delay you reaching your goals, and at worst harm your health. The ideal way to lose fat and build muscle is to through a healthy, balanced, nutritious diet that uses all food groups and encourages the use of foods that have been shown to be healthy for you such as protein sources, fruits, vegetables and grains. If you need specific advice on nutrition, I offer it on my website though training consultations. A few people that I have learned over time to trust when it comes to diet and nutrition are Tom Venuto, Alan Aragon, Aram Hamparian, and Derek Charlebois. 


Remember, if it sounds too good to be true, it probably is. There are no shortcuts in fat loss or body recomposition. If anybody tells you they have a shortcut, or a magic pill, run far, far away. Hard work and dedication are the keys to success. 


About the Author.

Tyson Downs is a ISSA Certified Personal Trainer. He offers personal training service at his website Ty Downs Fitness. He also competes in the NPC in the Men’s Physique division.




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