Have you been pumping away at the gym for months and not building the muscle you hoped for? It’s time to consider whether you’re doing everything possible to maximize your gains. If any of the following common mistakes describes you, consider making some changes.
1. Lack of Diet Structure
This is probably the number one mistake that all teen bodybuilders make. They go right for the training articles, focusing solely on whatever body part they are going to train. After weeks of making minimal gains, they often end up quitting. While you don’t need to be counting calories and breaking down macronutrients, it’s a good idea to read some basic nutrition articles and find out how to structure your diet properly.
2. Lack of Structured Training Program
Have you ever walked into the gym without knowing what you’re going to train? Often you end up working whatever muscle your friends are training that day—a sure formula for an unbalanced physique.
Spend some time putting together a workout split and stick to it. Start with a good basic routine, and when you’re ready to move up, you’ll find countless proven workout programs that will give you great results here on Bodybuilding.com.
3. Poor Exercise Form
Some teens will do anything to lift heavier weights. Using quick, jerky movements or relying too heavily on the assisting muscles are typical errors, committed mostly in hopes of outlifting their buddy…who is also using poor form.
Unfortunately, the muscle that you are trying to stimulate gets minimal work this way, and your joints and ligaments take the brunt of it. Be smart and hire a personal trainer to show you basic exercise form or watch a few of the many videos in our exercise database. Less weight and perfect form will lead to big muscle any day.
4. Lack of Consistency
To make progress in the gym, you need to be consistent with your training, nutrition, and recovery. The body will only get bigger and stronger if it needs to. When you start to slack on your program, your gains will stagnate.
5. Lack of Sleep
Getting enough sleep is one of the most critical forms of recovery. When you sleep, your body releases growth hormone and testosterone, hormones that aid in the recovery and muscle-building processes. Also, a good night’s sleep helps bring you the energy you will need for the next day’s workout.
6. Too Many Supplements
It’s easy to fall victim to relying too heavily on natural supplements. Whenever you click on a bodybuilding website, you are bombarded by supplement ads.
Supplements won’t do anything for you if you don’t have a solid workout and nutrition program. They are meant to “supplement” what you can’t get from your meals. There are no products, legal or otherwise, that can replace a good diet.
7. Too Much Partying on the Weekend
Staying out all night and getting little or no sleep two nights a week will cripple your muscle-building progress. Replacing your protein drinks with alcoholic beverages and your chicken and rice with snacks and fast food will only make it worse.
Bring an RTD or some almonds to the party so that you don’t have to go without your protein—and make the sacrifice of coming home a little early to get your muscle-building sleep. Yes, you may get some shit for it, but come contest time or beach season, you will be the one who looks good.
8. Failure to Train Legs
Many male lifters neglect their legs. After all, working legs is grueling and it hurts. Also, many bodybuilders focus only on the “show” muscles, the ones you see when you face the mirror, like biceps and chest.
Legs are the foundation of your body, the muscles that provide the power when you participate in any sport. Trained correctly, they are your biggest and strongest muscle group. You can use the most weight when working them, which results in your body releasing the hormones that stimulate growth in all the muscle groups.
9. Poor Exercise Choice
Filling your workouts with isolation exercises, like neglecting your legs, is one of the biggest mistakes you can make. Stick with the basic compound free-weight exercises that work multiple muscles and recruit the most muscle fibers, enabling you to use maximum weight to overload the target muscle.
10. Too Many Distractions in the Gym
Teens have all the cool new gadgets and love to bring them to the gym and talk on the phone or text friends while working out. This is a big no-no for anyone who is serious about building muscle. Put down the phone and focus on the task at hand.
Going to the gym in groups is another problem. Even if you are there to train hard, it will be difficult to keep your attention on your workout. If your buddies are not serious about working out, go at a different time.
As a teen, your energy levels are through the roof. You like to go full speed and never seem to get tired. Unfortunately, doing too many workouts, workouts that are too long, or too many sets for the same body part are all ways to put your body into overtraining, which will stunt your muscle growth and hamper your recovery. In some cases, you may regress and lose size.
12. Failure to Add Cardio Training
This mistake is often made by trainees who have been lifting for more than a year and who may have avoided all the other mistakes discussed above. They are focused on adding size and view cardio as a waste of energy that will just eat up calories. They are wrong. The last thing you want to do is stop a set of heavy squats because you are out of breath.