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11 Gym Mistakes to Avoid

train Oct 17, 2023
11 Gym Mistakes to Avoid | Arangio

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

They think it's completely normal to lose all of your muscle as you get older; however, that's a myth that needs to go away.

Middle-age people 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 “hardgainers” 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 folks are making the same mistakes, again and again.

You focus on some new biohack versus the basics.

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.

1. Getting less than eight 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 people 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.

2. Not tracking your nutrition

Most over-40 folks who struggle to gain muscle lack necessary calories to hit your 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.

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.

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 individuals 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 age-management personal trainer because it costs way too much time not to invest. Stick to the plan for at least 12 months.

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 sweat session 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.

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.

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.

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 folks increase their risk of overuse injury and reduce the chances of achieving their goals.

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

9. Not having clear stats and goals

The average aging Gen Xer or graying baby boomer walks into the gym hoping to gain muscle or lose fat (or both).

But without knowing exactly where you are now and where you want to go, you end up on a treadmill of frustration, spinning your wheels because your program and diet aren't aligned with what you really wants to achieve.

For example, you want to gain 10 pounds of muscle, but you've chosen one of those generic "extreme workouts" that your friend is using.

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

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

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.

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 person with a superhero’s physique there’s a good chance they've got years of hard training and good nutrition under their belt. They're probably in their 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 age-management personal trainer.

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

To your success,

Coach Joe



Joseph Arangio helps 40+ men and women lose weight, gain strength, and slow aging. He's delivered over 100,000 transformation programs to satisfied clients around the globe. If you want to increase longevity with the best online age-management program, or you want to visit the best age-management program in the Lehigh Valley, you can take a free 14-day trial.



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