Alpha Progression
The 8 biggest mistakes when building muscle

The 8 biggest mistakes when building muscle

Your goal is to build muscle? You train a lot but little happens? To achieve your goal, you need the right training, a good diet and sufficient recovery. However, mistakes often creep in that make it much more difficult to reach your goal.

Avoid these 8 typical beginner mistakes to reach your goal!

Starting without a plan

A goal without a plan is just a wish.
Antoine de Saint-Exupéry

If you want to achieve your goal, you need a plan. A plan is the foundation for achieving all goals. Unfortunately, beginners often start without a plan. You sign up at the gym and train like crazy. This is a fatal mistake.

A good training plan is the foundation for building muscle. Switching from machine to machine without a plan ist not effective. You need a plan according to which you train. This is the only way you can constantly improve.

Download the Alpha Progression app to get a customized training plan designed for optimal muscle growth.

Wrong technique

In order to hit your muscles properly during training, you need to have a proper technique. You should therefore perform the exercises as well as possible. Incorrect execution means that the actual target muscles are not sufficiently stressed. Thus, the muscle does not grow or grows slowly. That' s exactly what you should avoid. Furthermore, an incorrect technique can quickly lead to poor posture or even injuries and the associated pain. In addition, you should be careful not to overdo it when choosing your weights. Leave your ego at home and choose a weight that you can move without any problems. Otherwise, a bad technique is inevitable.

Furthermore, you should pay attention to the speed at which you perform exercises. Basically, you should not perform exercises too slow or too fast. Always perform the eccentric movement (e.g. letting up the grip when doing Lat Pulldowns or letting down the sled on the Leg Press) slowly and in a controlled manner. The concentric movement (e.g. pulling the handle down when doing Lat Pulldowns or pushing the sled up on the Leg Press) should always be done explosively, but in a controlled manner without momentum. You should also pay attention to your breathing during the exercise. Exhale during the concentric movement. Breathe in during the eccentric movement.

Check out the exercise videos in the Alpha Progression App to perform the exercises perfectly. If you are still unsure, have a trainer at the gym look over your technique.

No progression

To build muscle, you need to gradually stress them more. This is the only way your body will feel the need to expend energy to build muscle. So, you need to progress. Not progressing is one of the biggest mistakes you can make as a beginner. Therefore, always try to progress in the gym. You can achieve this in different ways.

You can:

  • Increase the weight.
  • Increase the reps.
  • Improve your technique.

Progression is enormously important for muscle building! A plan without progression is ineffective. The Alpha Progression App gives you progression recommendations, so you know exactly how much weight and how many reps to go for.

Not putting enough efforts into training

Signing up at the gym is already an important step towards building muscle. However, this alone is not enough. You also need to exercise regularly. But even that is not a guarantee to achieve your dream physique.

It is also very important how you train. Unfortunately, most beginners do not train hard enough and wonder why they do not build muscle. In order to build muscle, you need to stimulate your muscle during training. This is how you signal to your body that it needs to get stronger and needs more muscle mass to withstand the challenge. But if you do not train hard enough, you're not giving it enough stimulation. Thus, you are not giving your body a reason to build muscle.

So, to build muscle, you need to train hard. Muscle failure plays an important role here. Muscle failure occurs when you cannot perform another repetition with perfect technique during a set. In other words, you exhaust the muscle so much that there are no more reps in reserve (0 RIR). While it's not necessary to go to muscle failure on every set, you should have no more than 3 RIR to provide a strong training stimulus to force your muscles to grow.

Also, be sure to honestly assess your level of exertion. Especially with leg training, many people overestimate how hard they are training. Supposed 3 RIR are in reality more like 10 RIR.

Gaining weight to quickly

To gain muscle you have to eat a lot. This principle is known to most people when they start training. Often the terms "mass phase" or "bulking" are used without knowing the exact background.

To build muscle, you need a calorie surplus. That is, you need to supply your body with more energy than it consumes.

However, beginners often assume the principle "more is more". In the belief that more food leads to more muscle growth, vast amounts of calories are consumed. This is also the idea behind the so-called "mass phase". Unfortunately, this principle turns out to be wrong.

Do not set your calorie surplus too high. This is also called a "lean bulk". You try to build as much lean muscle mass as possible. Although you build more muscle with a higher calorie surplus, the increase in body fat increases disproportionately with the amount of calorie surplus. So, with a high surplus, you're building proportionally a lot of fat and little muscle. This is not worth it, because you will have to diet for a very long time afterwards. This long diet is wasted time, because you probably won't build muscle during the diet.

So, aim for a small surplus to save you from unnecessarily long diets. 100-300 kcal over maintenance calories is a good starting point. Go for the lower end if you've been working out for a long time, weigh less, and/or are a woman.

To avoid gaining weight too quickly and ending up on a long diet, aim for a calorie surplus of just 100-300 kcal.

Too little protein

To build muscle, you need to eat a diet rich in protein. Muscles consist mainly of protein and water. Protein is also necessary for many other body functions. Basically, nothing in the body works without protein. Therefore, always pay attention to your protein intake.

Good protein sources are:

  • Meat (beef, chicken, etc.)
  • Fish (salmon, tuna, etc.)
  • Dairy products (low-fat curd cheese, granular cream cheese, etc.)
  • Legumes (lentils, peas, etc.)
  • Eggs

In a calorie surplus, your protein intake should be around 1.5-2g of protein per kg of body weight.

Bad recovery

Just as important as planned training and good nutrition is recovery. Many beginners believe that muscles grow during training. However, only the stimulus for growth is set there. Your muscles will only really grow during the recovery phase. During training, muscles are damaged. This means that there are small micro tears in the muscles. These tears are closed during the recovery phase and the muscles are thus repaired. Furthermore, new muscle tissue is also created in the process. Unfortunately, recovery is often neglected.

If you have a hard time recovering from soreness, you feel tired all the time, and you can't really push yourself in training, poor recovery could be the reason.

To improve your recovery, you should get enough sleep. Aim for 7-9 hours of sleep per night. Furthermore, you should improve not only your sleep duration, but also your sleep quality.

    To improve your sleep quality, you should:

  • Avoid blue light completely a few hours before sleeping (activate blue light blocker on cell phone, TV, laptop, etc.!).
  • Completely darken your bedroom.
  • Do not consume caffeine several hours before sleeping.
  • Drink enough a few hours before sleep to stay hydrated throughout the night.

Beginners often have the problem that they would love to work out every day to grow as fast as possible. But you remember: Muscles grow during the recovery phase! Therefore, you should definitely give your body rest. Rest days are part of every smart training plan. If this is not the case for your plan, you should change it as soon as possible. Weight training is not a sprint, but a marathon. It takes time until you achieve significant results. Patience is the key to success.

Also make sure to avoid stress as much as possible. In the short term, stress may not seem so bad. However, over a longer period of time, all the little stressors add up. As a result, not only your well-being deteriorates, but also your recovery. This in turn leads to less muscle growth. Therefore, you should avoid stress as much as possible.

Incorporate daily stress-relieving activities such as walking, listening to music or meditating.


Supplements are a topic that seems to play a major role, especially among beginners. However, the expected effect is vastly overestimated. As the name suggests, these products only serve to supplement. Beginners, however, believe that supplements are magic for building muscle. Unfortunately, this is not the case.

Of course, there is nothing wrong with supplements and they make sense when used in a purposeful way. However, in the beginning you should not overestimate them. Rather, focus on training, a balanced diet and recovery.


Plan your training in advance and pay attention to proper technique. Try to progress from workout to workout and train hard.

Also, make sure you get enough protein and keep the calorie surplus moderate at 100-300 kcal. You don't want to risk an unnecessarily long diet after a phase with a calorie surplus.

Get enough good quality sleep. Focus on training, nutrition and recovery. Don't think too much about supplements.