You joined the gym months ago and you were psyched. You got a workout buddy, stocked up on protein powder and showed up every day to crush it – everything you’re supposed to do to make gains.
But now it seems your progress is stalling. You don’t see yourself getting any stronger, and you can’t figure out why.
Well, it’s not just you. Plateaus are common with everyone, even professional bodybuilders. And more often than not, they are due to specific mistakes.
Here’s a list of four mistakes serious lifters make that could be costing you gains in the long-run.
Ego-lifting is a normal part of the gym experience at this point because there’s always someone looking to prove something.
But besides the risk of looking like an idiot, ego-lifting can increase your risk for injury. And injury means you’ll have to skip a few workouts for recovery, stalling your gains.
Ego-lifting can also cause you to forget your workout goals as you constantly strive to be the biggest, strongest guy in the gym. Functional training, flexibility, and overall athleticism go out the window.
But, that’s the wrong approach. Instead, if you stick to your routine in the gym, you’ll see remarkable results. Leave the ego-lifts for people who don’t have a defined workout goal.
2. Ignoring the mind-muscle connection
There are many ways to describe the mind-muscle connection, but it’s basically paying attention to your muscles as they move, and ensuring you’re using the right muscle groups.
Imagine you’re doing a bench press. Going through your reps slowly ensures that you can focus on your pectorals, instead of using your triceps.
Maintaining this slow and consistent pace throughout your exercises helps establish the mind-muscle connection.
But when you rush through your routines, you start engaging accessory muscles, which means the impact on the chief muscle group will be diminished.
This mistake is very common among bodybuilders, especially as they start lifting heavyweights. You might see someone blow through bent over rows with 325 lbs weights, or do half lunges because the barbell is too heavy.
You may make gains with this approach, but it’s much less than you would otherwise.
One easy trick to keep the right muscles engaged through the exercise is to visualize them. If you’re doing bicep curls, visualize your biceps as they bring the dumbbell through the arc.
3. Avoiding specific muscle groups
If you have a gym buddy, you probably don’t skip leg days because friends don’t let friends skip leg day. However, it’s easy to ignore other muscle groups that aren’t as visible from the outside. A great example is your core.
And this is something bodybuilders admit to skipping. They let the core muscles develop passively instead of incorporating exercises that target them specifically.
What you should do is dedicate a couple of exercises to building your core. And I’m not just talking about your abs. Your Transversus Abdominis (deep abdominal muscle) and your Erector Spinae (the muscle that keeps you upright) need to become stronger along with your entire body.
Even though working them isn’t as exciting as setting a new bench press PR, it’s critical for a balanced physique.
Here are some amazing core building exercises from bodybuilding.com
4. Going through the motions
After you’ve been working out for a while, you’re going to get used to your routine. You may even get bored.
It’s at this stage that most people start going through the motions. They show up just for the sake of showing up. Pro bodybuilders have to work out to stay competition-ready, so this is a problem they experience quite often.
The solution is to incorporate new exercises into your routine. The only problem is, they may not be sexy.
Calisthenic exercises are a great way to start. You may be able to bench 225 lbs, but doing 50 continuous push-ups is a different beast.
By training with bodyweight, as well as external weight, you can achieve a more rounded physique.
Plus, being able to crush anyone in pushups and bench presses is pretty satisfying.