The majority of gym-goers are either there to lose weight or build muscle. In fact, most are there for both, they are prepared to dedicate a lot of time to get bigger and stronger muscles. But if they are making the following mistakes then they are holding themselves back from reaching their full muscle growing potential.
Mistake #1. Not Contracting the Muscle Properly
Picture the scene, a guy in a gym trying to dumbbell curl 20kg weights. He is rocking back and forth, using his momentum to throw the weight up and then letting the weight swing back down to the starting position. Yeah his biceps are doing the work, but they are only lifting a fraction of the weight, the rest of his body is performing the rest.
To properly work a muscle you need to concentrate on performing the concentric contraction and eccentric contractions properly. Using the bicep curl as an example, curling the weight slowly using just your arm and then squeezing the muscle at the top is a true concentric contraction.
Lowering the weight slowly and allowing your muscle to stretch out in the eccentric part of the movement is actually even more important! The eccentric part of the movement is actually where the greater hypertrophic response is created.
Use a weight that you can both concentrically and eccentrically contract properly and you will get the most muscle growth possible from this.
Mistake #2. Not Consuming Enough Protein
Muscle Protein Synthesis is the process where protein is used to repair and rebuild muscle fibers after exercise. Performing any contraction will cause muscle damage, otherwise known as the breakdown of muscle fibers. Repairing this with protein increases the cross-section of the fibres and the strength.
Bottom Line: The more exercise you perform, the more protein you require in your diet, with athletes requiring twice as much protein as sedentary individuals. Making sure that your protein is spread out evenly throughout the day is another important consideration, as studies have shown that this is also beneficial to muscle protein synthesis.
Mistake #3. Not Getting Enough Sleep
Increasing sleep has been shown to positively affect athletic performance, whether that performance is a team sport or gym training. It is important to show that the study referenced was on the effect of extra sleep on performance, so more than regular sleep. The benefits of sleep extend to not just performance, but also hormonal responses. Extra sleep has been shown to boost levels of Growth Hormone (which is responsible for increasing muscle) and bad sleep has been shown to lower levels of Testosterone.
Bottom Line: If you are training properly, then you will require additional sleep to recover from the exercise and for your muscles to grow. Make sure you are getting closer to eight or nine hours per night compared to five or six.