Are you tired of not making progress in the gym?
Maybe you’ve been working hard for weeks or even months now and you simply aren’t seeing any gains.
You’ve gone online to get advice but you’ve been met with thousands of different opinions on how you should do things – and half of these guys don’t even lift!
To help you get on the right track we’ve put together a list of the 8 mistakes people tend to make that prevent them from making any progress in the gym.
Chances are if you haven’t seen the type of gains you expected you are guilty of at least one of these!
1 – Too Many Isolation Exercises
If you aren’t too sure what we mean by isolation exercises allow us to explain.
There are two types of exercises: compound exercises and isolation exercises.
The former tend to work multiple muscle groups at the same time.
These types of exercises include bench press, squats, deadlifts and pull-ups. Isolation exercises on the other hand focus on a single muscle group.
Examples include curls, tricep extensions and crunches. So why is this distinction important when it comes to lifting?
In general we find that far too many guys tend to base their entire workouts around isolation exercises and as a result ignore the compound exercises.
It’s not entirely their fault – after all when you walk into the gym what do you see most people doing?
Endless isolation exercises. What’s worse is when you ask most personal trainers how to get bigger arms they will usually tell you to do seven different variations of curls.
The way they look at it is why waste intensity on an exercise that works 4 muscles when you could choose one that focuses just on the muscle you want to grow?
This might make sense on paper but in reality it simply doesn’t work out as well. Overall isolation exercises simply aren’t as effective as compound exercises for putting on mass.
You will have to do far more sets to hit all the muscle groups individually which tends to lead to overtraining.
Additionally your body will release more testosterone after performing compound exercises which is absolutely crucial for building muscle.
2 – Taking Every Set to Failure
When does your set end? Is it when you can’t do a single additional rep?
Maybe you planned on doing 10 reps but you still have a bit of energy left so you squeeze out one more before dropping the weights to the ground with nothing left in the tank.
This is a tempting way to travel given that it makes you feel like you’ve really worked the muscle hard – not to mention the huge pumps you will get!
The truth is that training every set to failure is actually going to mess up your workouts.
It causes a lot of additional fatigue in your body which means you won’t have enough energy for your lifts later in the workout.
As a result you won’t be able to overload the muscles properly which is essential to building muscle.
Instead of trying to take each set to failure you should have a rep target in mind.
Once you reach that number put the weights down and rest for the next set or exercise.
To take it a step further you should also focus on lower rep ranges with the earlier exercises to make sure you have plenty of energy later on.
As a result you will still be able to lift heavy weight at the beginning of your workouts but you won’t be burning yourself out.
That’s not to say you can’t occasionally work to failure – just don’t do it every set for every exercise otherwise you won’t get the benefits from it.
3 – No Rest Between Sets
A lot of guys seem to make it their goal when they go to the gym to cut the rest periods down as little as possible.
That means 30 seconds or less before they pick the weights back up and get to the next set.
The idea here is that if they spend more time working out and take less breaks they will work their muscles a lot harder and grow faster.
Unfortunately this is actually a bad way to go about your workout. Remember when it comes to building muscle we are looking to progressively overload.
That means over time we want to be increasing the amount of weight, reps or sets we are able to perform.
However, when you don’t give your body enough time to rest between sets you will have a much harder time doing this.
Lifting heavier weights is taxing on your body so it’s important you have time to recover.
Give yourself 2-3 minutes between sets to make sure you are ready to perform the next one with full intensity.
4 – No Warm-Ups
Have you ever seen someone walk into the gym, grab a bench and immediately pick up their working weight dumbbells and start benching them?
Or maybe you have been guilty of doing this yourself? Some people will even do some static stretching and cardio before working out thinking that will help.
Truth is that both of these methods are harmful.
Static stretching will actually weaken your muscles and make it difficult to lift heavy, not to mention the cardio will tire you out.
What you should focus on doing is a dynamic training routine with lighter weights to warm the muscle up.
For bench press you can grab a weight that is much lighter than your working set weight and do a warm-up set.
This will prepare the muscles for the type of work they are about to perform and help reduce the chances of injury but without reducing your strength.
5 – Always Changing Your Routine
While changing your routine up when it no longer becomes effective is a good idea you most definitely should not be changing it every week.
Some people do this consciously because they think that “confusing the muscles” is the most effective way of making them grow.
Others end up doing it because they have no training program – they just show up at the gym and do whatever exercises look good.
What you need to focus on is finding a routine that works and stick to it for an extended period of time.
Progressively overload the weights, track your progress and watch the gains come pouring in. When things start to slow down or you hit a plateau then you can look at making changes.
6 – Low Testosterone Levels
A problem many guys are having is having low testosterone levels.
Testosterone is the male hormone responsible for muscle growth.
Those with higher testosterone levels tend to build more muscle in a shorter period of time.
A lot of guys in today’s society experience the symptoms of having low testosterone levels.
- Low Sex Drive
- Difficulty achieving erection
- Hair Loss
- Lack Of energy
- Loss of muscle mass
- Increase in body fat
If you are experiencing any of these symptoms you could have low testosterone levels.
A great way to increase your testosterone production and get higher testosterone in your body is taking in natural ingredients(see the best ones here) that enhance your testosterone production.
Make sure you go with natural ingredients that boost your production.
These supplements are called testosterone boosters and could help a lot of guys experiencing this problem.
Check out our article on the best 3 testosterone booster if you are interested in learning more.
7 – No Workout Log
Like we mentioned, it’s important to have a workout program and stick to it.
You should know exactly which exercises you are going to perform on each day.
To add to that, you should be adding weight to those exercises over time. However, how can you know just how effectively you are doing that if you don’t rack your lifts?
Most people don’t bring a notepad to the gym so they have no way of tracking their workout progress over time.
As a result they could end up doing the same weight for months without even realizing it.
However, if they had tracked the lifts they would be able to identify this trend quickly and do something about it.
Going forward make sure you bring a notepad to the gym and write down all your workouts.
This way you will know exactly how well you are doing. There are a lot of great fitness apps out there to help you do this or you can simply bring a notebook and pen.
8 – Not Enough Rest
It might seem hard to believe, but a lot of people who work hard in the gym and eat clean will actually lose their gains because they overtax their bodies.
They workout hard 4-5 times per week and never give themselves any time off!
Remember that every couple of months it’s a good idea to give your body a deload week where you work at much lower weights. This will allow your body to catch up on recovery and deal with any sore joints or muscle groups.
Some people are hesitant to take a week to deload particularly if they are making good progress.
They think that by taking the week to lift 50% lighter weights they will waste the potential gains of that week.
While this may be true in some cases, the fact that you are giving your body some time to recover will result in making more progress over an extended period of time.
The guy who never deloads will eventually experience symptoms of overtraining and may even end up with an injury – taking him out of the gym for weeks or months! Give yourself some rest – in the long run you’ll be glad you did.