There are many excuses used in regards to the difficulty of building bigger muscles. Some say that you have to be born with very rare genetics in order to have the ability to get big. Others claim that you have to use a lot of anabolic steroids to have any chance of building an impressive physique.
However, there are also many mistakes that can be made along the way to building muscle mass. These errors may be the real reason that so many aspiring bodybuilders find it so difficult to build more muscle.
Many of us make the mistake of following what the professional bodybuilders do in our quest for more muscle. This seems logical but the reality is that the pros often have advantages that most of us don’t have. Trying to mimic their training routines and nutrition programs often leads to frustration and failure.
I made the same mistake when I began lifting weights at the young age of 14 years old. I had no idea what type of training program I should follow to build bigger muscles so I simply copied the exact workout routine of the current Mr. Olympia. I was soon training twice a day, six days a week to speed up my muscle building gains. Unfortunately, my results were slow and disappointing.
Here are the three main mistakes that most bodybuilders make in their quest for building more muscle mass. If you are performing one or more of these training errors, this could be what is holding you back from building more muscle.
Mistake #1: Doing Too Many Sets
The idea of “more is better” is common in our society. The harder you work and the more time you spend trying to achieve a goal, the more successful you will be. If you want to get better grades, study more. If you want to make more money, work more hours. If you want to build bigger muscles, do more sets and make your workouts even
Unfortunately, building muscle doesn’t work that way. Muscles grow bigger in response to stress. This stress adaptation response can be compared to getting a sun tan or developing calluses on your hands. When the body is subjected to stress, it responds by adapting to that stress and becoming stronger. The skin darkens in response to the exposure to the sun, calluses develop in response to the friction against the skin and your muscles grow larger in response to the extra resistance placed on them.
If the stress is too intense or too long, the muscles may actually break down more than build up. This can happen if the muscles are not given enough time to recuperate from the workout or if too many sets are performed during a workout. When you do too many sets in a workout, the intensity level actually goes down because it is impossible to train extremely hard and long at the same time.
By reducing the amount of sets that are performed in a workout, you will be able to train much harder and put more into each set which equates to more stress on the muscles plus saving enough energy to rebuild the muscle tissues. The key to really building more muscle mass is to impose more stress on them by overloading them with more
resistance and then giving them enough time to recuperate and grow. Using too many sets will burn up your energy reserves without helping you to build more muscle.
Mistake #2: Relying on the Pump
Getting a good pump in the muscles is one of the best benefits to lifting weights. The muscles get larger when they are pumped up and it feels both mentally and physically satisfying to achieve this condition. Arnold Schwarzenegger jokingly compared getting a pump to a sexual orgasm in the film “Pumping Iron”.
Although pumping blood into the muscles is a factor in building bigger muscles, some bodybuilders mistake a pump for growth. The key to building more muscle mass is to subject the muscles to more stress than they are accustomed to. This increased stress will force the muscles to respond.
Merely pumping up the muscles by using less resistance may feel good but it does little for real muscle tissue growth. In order to get those muscle fibers to thicken up and develop, you have to place more resistance on them as opposed to just pumping them up with more blood.
It’s no coincidence that the biggest bodybuilders in the history of the sport got that way by training with very heavy weights. They may have changed their training philosophy AFTER they built their incredible muscle mass but they never would have gotten that way in the first place by simply pumping up the the muscles with light weights.
Mistake #3: Not Keeping Track of Your Progress
Sometimes the emphasis with a training program is to just “kill it” or train very intense instead of actually making progress. Everyone wants to train hard in order to build more muscle mass. However, the bottom line should always be how effective is the workout?
Taking each set to failure, using drop sets and chasing the pump during a workout may make you believe that you are progressing because the workout was so hard. However, this may not necessarily be the case. Are you getting stronger week after week? Are your muscles getting progressively bigger over time? Does it seem like you are making progress because you are training so hard or are you actually making progress?
The best way to ensure that you are making gains and going in the right direction is to record your workouts and keep track of your progress. By writing down what you are dong week after week, you will be able to see for yourself if you are making gains with your muscle mass and strength.
The muscles will respond to progressive resistance. By consistently overloading the muscles, they will have no choice but to respond to the increased stress by growing and getting larger. You don’t necessarily have to train so hard that your eyeballs are bulging out of your head. As long as the muscles are working consistently working harder, they will get bigger.
About the Author
John Hansen, creator of the MP6 Natural Bodybuilding Program, is a competitive natural bodybuilder who has won the first Natural Mr. Olympia title and is a three time Natural Mr. Universe winner. John has appeared in various magazine covers and contributes material to various online and traditional magazines, including IRONMAN Magazine, where he has a monthly column.
It should be mentioned that at 49 years old, John Hansen also won the 2012 Natural Mr. Universe in the Professional Masters division; 20 years after winning his first Natural Mr. Universe title in 1992! You can follow John through his several websites including:
- And his YouTube channel: www.youtube.com/user/naturalolympia.
To contact John, email him at firstname.lastname@example.org