The no BS guide to weight training for beginner to intermediate lifters.

Muscle Growth: Are You Making These 3 Mistakes?

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Muscle Growth: Are you making these 3 mistakes?

I’m sure you have heard of the phrase “fitness is 80% nutrition and 20% exercise”. Well, what if you’re nailing the 80%, but you don’t see much muscle growth? Now don’t get me wrong; a good nutrition program is an absolute must. If you want your body to perform optimally, you have to fuel it properly. But nutrition alone will not help you build the muscle.

In this post, I will be showing you the three muscle growth mistakes you are making that is halting your progress.

Mistake #1- You’re not creating enough mechanical tension

Yes, mechanical tension is English, and no I didn’t make it up. You may have heard of it before but if you haven’t let me break it down for you.

Yes, mechanical tension is English, and no I didn’t make it up. You may have heard of it before but if you haven’t let me break it down for you.

Mechanical tension is a fancy way of saying the creation of force through heavy lifting. It’s that feeling when you’re doing a squat, and it feels like your quads are going to tear.

There are two types of mechanical tension: Passive elastic tension and active tension. Passive tension is when you’re stretching the muscle without a contraction. Active tension is when you flex the muscle through an isometric contraction. To explain we’ll look at a bicep curl. The isometric contraction is the part where you have paused at the top after you have curled. Your elbow remains bent in the same position with no activity, and you’re only working the muscle by fighting gravity.

To maximize muscle growth, you must create a combination of active and passive tension. 

How to apply it

To create this combo, take the exercise through the full range of motion. Let’s take a hip thrust for example. To achieve a full range of motion with a hip thrust start by raising your hips. When you get to the top, make sure you lockout and then lower your hips back down again. It is not a full range of motion when you only raise your hips half way and then drop them back down again.

If you’re a beginner or you’re inflexible, then performing movements with a full range of motion may not be possible at first. You will need to work on your movement and improve your range of motion as you progress. I know it sounds like a lot of work, but it’s worth the effort.

Mistake #2- You’re not damaging your muscles

Muscle damage occurs when you generate a lot of strain. You can create stress by doing something your body is not used to doing or by stretching the muscle while it is being activated. It also occurs when you emphasize the eccentric phase of the exercise. The eccentric phase of an exercise is the part where the muscle is lengthened. For example, when you lower the dumbbell after doing a bicep curl. Emphasizing the eccentric portion of a bicep curl involves dropping the weight down more slowly than you usually would. If you want to maximize muscle growth, you must damage your muscles. You can do this by including some variety in your workout. Variation in your program is excellent because it helps to target different parts of your muscles.

How to apply it

Change up your exercises occasionally while still progressively overloading each movement. Variety is essential when you’re trying to damage your muscles, but too much variety could be detrimental to your results. Try to change your workouts once every one to three months. This will create enough variation, but it will still allow you to progressively overload and to track your progress.

Mistake #3- You’re not creating adequate metabolic stress

Metabolic stress is what lifters call a “pump.” It’s that burning sensation you feel when you’re exercising. It is usually experienced towards the end of a set when your will power is running out(cue it’s the eye of the tiger).

What causes metabolic stress?

Metabolic stress is caused by the closure of your veins through repeated muscle contractions and a lack of oxygen in the muscles. 

How to apply it

To create metabolic stress you have to generate continuous tension throughout the exercise. For example, when you’re squatting, squat down to parallel or as far as you can go. When you get to the top of the movement, don’t lock out. You’re not doing a half squat, but you’re also not locking out completely. By stopping short of a lockout, you’re placing the muscle under constant tension. Warning: This is going to burn. But that’s the point, so embrace the burn.

Increasing metabolic stress, mechanical tension, and muscular damage will help catapult your muscle growth. But remember, progressive overloading and an excellent mind-muscle connection is also essential.

Have you been incorporating these factors in your training? Comment below and let me know.



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