Bodybuilding Mistakes That Are Killing Your Gains

Last Updated on April 4, 2018 by Nick

Bodybuilding Man with dumbbells

rear view of bodybuilder training with dumbbells on black background

As they say, “no pain, no gain”, but not training hard enough in the weight room is not the only reason for a lack of gains.

In this article, I will reveal five common bodybuilding mistakes which can prevent you from making the progress you deserve!

1. Focusing On Weight Over Form

Perhaps the most common mistake of all, sacrificing form to add weight onto the bar is likely to hold you back.

Sure, curling 30 KG can look impressive, but when your bicep is not strong enough to lift the weight you are likely to begin incorporating other muscles.

This will reduce the load you are placing onto the target muscle and kill the impact of your workout!

2. Not Developing A Mind-Muscle Connection

Just because a movement looks right in the mirror, it doesn’t mean it is. Even if you stand completely still while doing cable triceps pulldowns, you could be putting your shoulders into the movement.

Try to focus ONLY on tensing the target muscles with each rep while keeping the rest of your body tight but relaxed.

For example, with the cable triceps pulldowns, you should be bending your arms from below the elbow only, and the burn should be felt almost solely in the triceps area.

If you begin to feel a strain in your shoulders, focus on keeping them relaxed.

Once you take out the shoulders, you will instantly notice a drastic change in the burn your triceps experience throughout the set.

With practice you will eventually find that you can flex each muscle independently, not many people can do this!

In addition to that and also to prevent an injury is getting yourself a nice pair of wrist wraps to support your wrist ankles, and force yourself to work on the right muscle group.

Note: Sometimes lowering the weight can increase the intensity and difficulty of the set because it allows you to take the assisting muscles out of the equation. Moving 12 KG on cable pulldowns with just your triceps alone is much harder than moving 16 KG with both your shoulders and triceps.

3. Not Eating Enough Protein

Protein is the building block of muscle. You need protein to build muscles, and if you’re surviving on a diet of chocolate bars and little to no protein, then you’re not going to get very far.

Contrary to the popular “1 g/lb” belief, most studies show that the optimal protein intake for bodybuilders is just a touch over 0.82 grams per pound of bodyweight.

While this is lower than the recommended, keep in mind that nutritional labels found on food can legally be wrong by up to 20%.

For this reason, you may want to work out your 0.82 g/lb requirement then add on an additional 20% to safeguard against faulty labels.

4. Not Getting Enough Sleep

Like protein, sleep is an essential tool when it comes to putting on mass.

It’s when we sleep that our bodies carry out repairs, and that includes repairs to the muscle tissue we worked so hard to break down in the gym!

The minimum recommendation for sleep is around 8 hours, but you should listen to your body and give yourself as much rest as you need.

With that said, if you find yourself feeling fatigued all the time and waking up tired no matter how much you sleep this could be a symptom of a medical condition (please get this checked out by a doctor) or overtraining, which brings us onto the next point.

5. Overtraining!

Not many people know this, but working out 24/7 will hold you back significantly.

Your body needs time to repair, and if you stress the muscle too much you could even start moving BACKWARDS!

That’s right, significantly overworking one muscle is capable of making it smaller.

A common recommendation is that no weight training workout should last for longer than an hour.

The amount of training you need to be doing to be “overtraining” is often very high, but again this is something you should experiment with until you find a workout frequency which fits with your body.

If you are working out five days a week and making zero progress despite doing everything right, try dialing it down to 3 days per week and monitor your progress.

If you suddenly find that your strength begins to increase at a higher rate, then it’s likely that your body requires extra rest for optimal growth.

Eliminating these bodybuilding mistakes from your training regimen will bring you one step closer to achieving your dream body!

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Nick Donovan

Nick is nutrition enthusiast who is dedicated to finding ways to make healthy eating, and proper exercise, a habit in your life.

Show 2 Comments
  • David February 17, 2018, 2:21 pm

    Useful post, Nick. It’s best to learn from other’s mistakes than to feel the urge to commit one by oneself & then think of learning. I think we’ve all made some of these mistakes to some degree or another.

    • Nick February 17, 2018, 9:08 pm

      Thanks David,

      Agreed. There was a great study I read called “The neural mechanisms of learning from competitors”, which basically concluded that we learn more from others’ mistakes. However, some people would argue quite the opposite and prefer learning from their own mistakes, which could be more challenging and often lead to injuries or stuck at a plateau and seeing no progress in size and strength.

      In fact, when I was just starting out I think I did almost everything wrong and I was guilty of the “more is better” mentality. That being said, it took me quite some time to stop doing the mistake #2. 🙂


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