11 Gym Mistakes to Avoid

train Oct 15, 2020
Best Online Personal Trainer

It's no secret that many over-40 guys struggle to build and maintain muscle.

They think it's normal for a man to lose all of his muscle when he turns 40; however, that's a myth that needs to go away.

Middle-age guys also think that hormone replacement "therapy"' is the only way to slow muscle loss, but that's not true either.

In fact, the most common sin among so-called “hard-gainers” is failure to develop a smart training program, one that balances intensity, duration, and recovery.

11 Gym Mistakes to Avoid

By Joseph Arangio, M.S., C.S.C.S.
Originally appeared in Men's Fitness

Results come from doing the right work, not just hard work.

Many unsuccessful guys are making the same mistakes, again and again.

They work hard in circles. There's nothing wrong with hard work; however, getting results is even better.

The very first step to end your muscle-building struggle is to avoid these common screw-ups.

🚧 Gym Mistake #1: Getting Less Than 8 Hours of Sleep Nightly

You can only train as hard as you can rest.

Under recovery, due to lack of quality sleep, is the main reason most guys fail to make progress in the gym.

Solution: Get at least eight hours of quality shuteye to encourage the natural release of restorative hormones, like testosterone, that can have an anti-catabolic effect on your body.

That means you’ll resist muscle breakdown.

Sleep issues? Avoid caffeine and booze six hours before bed because these compounds disturb restful sleep.

Allergies can mess up your breathing, which keeps you up at night, so talk to your doctor if you are chronically tired.

🚧 Gym Mistake #2: Not Tracking Your Nutrition

Most over-40 men who struggle to gain muscle lack necessary calories to hit their goal.

Solution: The only way to ensure you’re eating enough to pack on muscle is to track protein, carbs, and fat.

The easiest way to bump your calories is to add 2-3 daily meal replacements. Mix a double-portion of whey or casein protein powder and 1-2 tbsp of olive oil with water or almond milk. This adds nearly 1,000 calories to your daily total.

Research shows that taking whey or casein protein immediately after your workout boosts muscle protein synthesis, resulting in faster gains.

🚧 Gym Mistake #3: Your Workout Is Missing Continuous Overload

A muscle that’s stressed in small doses adapts by growing bigger, stronger, and faster.

“Unless you follow a systematic training plan that includes progression and overload, you’re just going through the motions,” says Boyd Epley, M.Ed., C.S.C.S., founder of the National Strength and Conditioning Association.

Solution: Develop a written plan targeting a specific goal every 6-8 weeks. Once you meet your goal, do a maintenance program for a week before setting a new goal and starting the next training cycle, says Epley.

🚧 Gym Mistake #4: Designing Your Own Workout Program

The fact that you are born with biceps does not automatically qualify you as a certified strength-and-conditioning specialist.

Many over-40 guys comb through countless web pages and piece together workouts. If that works for you, keep it up. 

Solution: If you're not seeing progress, invest in the best online personal trainer because it costs way too much time not to. Stick to the plan for at least 12 months.

🚧 Gym Mistake #5: Skimping On Your Warm-Up

Ten arm circles before you bench press won’t prep you for a workout.

“A proper warm-up increases body temperature and relaxes tissue, which leads to more flexible muscles, tendons, ligaments,” says Carwyn Sharp, Ph.D., C.S.C.S., Education Director at the National Strength and Conditioning Association.

Solution: Prepare for a workout by foam rolling your back, glutes, and thighs. Roll slowly until you find a tender spot, then hold direct pressure for 30 seconds.

Choose a roller with knobby fingers designed to massage out your kinks by stimulating Golgi tendon organs, tiny muscle receptors that tell your body to loosen up.

Complete your pre-workout routine with dynamic movements like jumping jacks and bodyweight squats.

🚧 Gym Mistake #6: Doing Nothing When You’re Sore

Your muscles ache 48 hours after a hard workout so you skip the gym. Bad idea.

Metabolic sprints are the number-one program hack to fight fatigue and jack up your muscle-building hormones, says Dr. Sharp.

Short-burst activity increases blood flow, thereby boosting delivery of oxygen and nutrients for repair. Metabolic sprints also speed removal of metabolites, waste, and damaging factors such as free radicals.

Solution: Dr. Sharp recommends this 20-minute anti-catabolic workout on your recovery day.

After a proper warm-up (see above), do 3 sets of 10-second sprints on a bike, rower or climber.

Go easy for two minutes between sets.

“The high intensity is long enough to be invigorating, without debilitating, as long as you stick to the minimum rest period,” says Sharp.

Finish up with more foam rolling and some stretching.

🚧 Gym Mistake #7: Using Too Many Exercise Variations

Gains in muscle size and strength come from overloading tissue enough to create micro-trauma in the cells.

“The key is to find the workout plan that creates the maximum amount of micro-trauma you can recover from before your next workout,” says Coach Epley.

Solution: Make your exercise menu a short one filled with fundamental moves, like squats, that recruit the most muscle.

🚧 Gym Mistake #8: Inconsistent Training

Monday chest, Tuesday back and biceps, and the rest of the week hit-or-miss, is no way to go through a training program. And it's not just because body-part training is dead.

By missing muscle groups each week and training the same part over and over again, over-40 guys increase their risk of overuse injury and reduce the chances of achieving their goals.

Solution: Schedule your workouts like an ongoing 4-day-per-week appointment that you absolutely, positively cannot skip.

🚧 Gym Mistake #9: Not Having Clear Stats and Goals

The average guy walks into the gym hoping to gain muscle or lose fat (or both).

But without knowing exactly where he is now and where he wants to go, he ends up on a treadmill of frustration, spinning his wheels because his program and diet aren't aligned with what he really wants to achieve.

For example, he wants to gain 10 pounds of muscle, but he's chosen one of those generic "extreme workouts" that his buddy is using.

Because the program is not aligned with the goal, he’ll have trouble adding muscle.

Solution: Failure to plan is planning to fail. Get a fitness consultation with a world-class online personal trainer and have them custom-tailor a training plan based on your number-one goal.

🚧 Gym Mistake #10: Making Bad Choices On Weekends

You can’t out-train a terrible lifestyle. In other words, the best-designed training plan is no match for poor sleep and nutrition choices.

Weekend binge drinking, bad sleeping patterns, and overeating will push you farther from your goals.

Solution: Limit yourself to one cheat meal or one cheat day. Other than that, plan the rest of your meals just like you do during the week.

Avoid drastic deviations from your sleep schedule. And limit your booze intake to three drinks per outing. No need to be a lush.

🚧 Gym Mistake #11: Taking Steroids to Get “Overnight” Results

Unless you're a genetic freak, or you’re on boatloads of bodybuilding drugs, your results will take time.

If you see a drug-free guy with a superhero’s physique there’s a good chance he’s got years of hard training and good nutrition under his belt. He’s probably in his late 20's or early 30's too.

Using steroids, growth hormone, and other powerful muscle-building drugs is like opening Pandora’s Box.

For my fellow Greek mythology nerds, this is a box that Zeus gave to Pandora with instructions that she never open it.

Of course the girl gave in to her curiosity and opened it and a “swarm of evils” flew out to afflict mankind.

Now using steroids probably won’t cause the end of the world; however, 9 out of 10 times you will run into trouble.

Big trouble.

So don’t tempt fate.

Solution: Skip the drugs and focus on mindful nutrition, smart training, and getting a good night's sleep.

Of course you can fast-track your results by hiring the best online personal trainer.

An experienced coach will provide the coaching and accountability you need to stick to the proven plan.




Porkka-Heiskanen T, Zitting KM, Wigren HK. Sleep, its regulation and possible mechanisms of sleep disturbances. Acta Physiol (Oxf). 2013 Jun 10. doi: 10.1111/apha.12134.

Sorace, Paul Exercise, Athletes, and Allergies Strength & Conditioning Journal. 30(1):22-25, February 2008..

Skein M, Duffield R, Minett GM, Snape A, Murphy A. The Effect of Overnight Sleep Deprivation Following Competitive Rugby League Matches on Post-Match Physiological and Perceptual Recovery. Int J Sports Physiol Perform. 2013 Feb 14.

Tipton KD, Elliott TA, Cree MG, Wolf SE, Sanford AP, Wolfe RR. Ingestion of casein and whey proteins result in muscle anabolism after resistance exercise. Med Sci Sports Exerc. 2004 Dec;36(12):2073-81.

Reitelseder S, Agergaard J, Doessing S, Helmark IC, Lund P, Kristensen NB, Frystyk J, Flyvbjerg A, Schjerling P, van Hall G, Kjaer M, Holm L. Whey and casein labeled with L-[1-13C]leucine and muscle protein synthesis: effect of resistance exercise and protein ingestion. Am J Physiol Endocrinol Metab. 2011 Jan;300(1):E231-42. doi: 10.1152/ajpendo.00513.2010. Epub 2010 Nov 2.

Sullivan KM, Silvey DB, Button DC, Behm DG. Roller-massager application to the hamstrings increases sit-and-reach range of motion within five to ten seconds without performance impairments. Int J Sports Phys Ther. 2013 Jun;8(3):228-36.

MacDonald GZ, Penney MD, Mullaley ME, Cuconato AL, Drake CD, Behm DG, Button DC. An acute bout of self-myofascial release increases range of motion without a subsequent decrease in muscle activation or force. J Strength Cond Res. 2013 Mar;27(3):812-21.

Shiraev T, Barclay G. Evidence based exercise - clinical benefits of high intensity interval training. Aust Fam Physician. 2012 Dec;41(12):960-2.

Banana Chocolate Chip Pancake Recipe

Are You Willing to Change?

Should You Lift Weights Fast or Slow?