5 Muscle Building Mistakes and How to Fix Them (Alberto Nunez)

I have to admit that sometimes I try to look too good and I often dream about gaining muscles and improving my body in the cold months before my competition season is over. I know that I am not the only one because getting bigger and bigger is what drew most of us to bodybuilding. This article is about the mistakes I see most frequently during the post-workout mass gaining phase. Similarly as in the case of weight loss, also in case of mass gaining, there are many mistaken conceptions about what is the best approach to gaining muscles.

5 Muscle Building Mistakes and How to Fix Them (Alberto Nunez)

In my opinion, these are the most frequently occurring mistakes when it comes to gaining muscle mass. From forgetting how to use a treadmill properly, to a fear of gaining a bit more fat. We will sum them all up here.

1) Stop „bulking“ and start improving

You need to stop thinking about this word immediately! This word is incorrect and it influences you whether you realize it or not. The famous word “bulking” literally screams the old cliché “get huge or die trying” and it support the mindset which is trying to make the scale move no matter what. It is a disaster recipe, mainly in mind of those men who are trying to gain muscles.

The truth is that after a year or two of optimal training and diet (for most people it takes a few years to reach their goals), the majority of muscles that influence the weight will be already built. After the beginning, everything will slow down rapidly and even though you may make improvements, it will not reflect on your weight as markedly as you may have thought. Surely, you want a weight gain, but only to make sure you eat enough food to build muscles. However, it should not be mistaken with the thought that everything you gain are lean muscles. The amount of muscles you gain after your “bulking phase” is over it is not even worth counting, nor weighting. But it will be something that can be visually seen from the most part of it.

Those who “bulk” usually end up as another 90 kg guy who should have around 75 kg so that there would be some indications of abdominal muscles visible on him. Moreover, they will probably lose a lot of already built muscles if they try to lose any excessive fats by dieting. Call it “time to improve”, time to remove any weak spots on your figure. So next time when you lose all the fats, you will look much better.

Don’t try to bulk, but try to improve and focus on a slow and steady muscle increase instead. You should not focus on putting on 10 kg in three months and a few “fatceps”. Conversely, focus on gaining 0,5 to 1,5 kg per month and where exactly in between this you should aim depends on your starting form and body weight. For example, a 190 cm guy who weights 82 kg and is shredded should gain about 1,5 kg more per month than a 180 cm guy who weights 82 kg and is on the beginning of his muscle formation. Furthermore, it also depends on the level of your development, because someone who has been training for two years should gain faster in comparison with someone who has been training for more than five years.

Be patient and don’t rush into anything, otherwise you will lose everything you have gained so far. Moreover, you will not gain as much as you hoped for. You should gain muscles slowly and if you gain lean muscles you will be able to diet less and keep more muscles that you actually have not even gained yet.

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2) Be flexible

Some people will go from a strict oatmeal scaling trying to make the scale show 40 grams instead of 41 grams to “have enough proteins” as soon as they end the shredding phase. With all my clients, I use their off-season time to play with the ratio and amount of calories, etc. It is a great time to collect information that can help us to improve and it will also be a great help when it comes to losing fat. It is a great time to find out what works best for you and maybe you will also discover that you can see your progress even more when you workout three times per week, instead of four times.

The same can be said about diet, maybe also you will find out that you progress faster if your fats intake is closer to 15% than to 30% from the overall intake of calories. I may teach my clients to balance and partly divert from the accuracy which is necessary for fat loss, but you should always keep a certain order in it. There is a difference between keeping a certain nutrients intake in 30 out of 36 meals and eat to “have enough proteins”. It is much easier to be flexible in these phases.

Enjoy the flexibility that comes during this period of time, but do everything in moderation. Gaining muscle mass and keeping a shredded figure at the same time, discovering the approaches that work best for you, all of this is a very long journey.

5 Muscle Building Mistakes and How to Fix Them (Alberto Nunez)

3) Where is my cardio, buddy?

Even though you will not do as much cardio as if you wanted to lose all weight, it is still an important tool in muscle formation. Its aim is not to burn fat anymore, but health and efficiency. The right weight training, combined with an occasional cardiovascular training will keep you healthy longer. It is not necessary to do a lot of cardio workout, because the weight training does not do much for our cardiovascular health than most people think. So you do not need much, it can be short and intensive instead.

To most of my clients, I recommend one high intensity workout with a shorter duration as a part of their training plan. Something as trying to reach your own personal record in running for one mile, basketball, complex workouts with barbell and so. I want this to be fun for you, something you are looking forward to and avoid playing hamster if possible. Besides the health benefits, healthier cardiovascular system helps to cure injuries faster, since nutrients will get sooner to their place. Personally, days when I workout my lower body parts can really knock me down. On the next day, I am not motivated to work out at all and a 7 kg weight seems to me like a 27 kg one and I really feel like I have been hit by a train. A bit of a slow cardio training really helps me shake this feeling off, so I like to do cardio with low intensity after some really hard weight trainings. A simple 25-35 minute walk up the hill on a treadmill can do wonders, it speeds up the nutrients delivery process and regeneration process before your next hard workout.

Besides regeneration support and keeping healthy, cardio will help you stay in shape even in the off-season. It may not seem too much, but 600-700 calories burnt per one week can pile up to 2400-3200 at the end of a month. Half of fat is 3500 calories, so it is about half kilo of fat you have not gained. Why would you not do cardio workout during the off-season?

5 Muscle Building Mistakes and How to Fix Them (Alberto Nunez)

4) Stay patient

This is connected mainly to my first point, because how much muscle you are able to gain if you eat and train optimally is pretty much given naturally to you. If you gain 12 kg during the holiday and get bulky, it won’t move you forward as much as if you gain 3-4 kg during the same period of time. On the contrary, it will only give you more fat that needs to be burnt so when it comes to a fat loss, you will have less muscle at last. Great figures cannot be built in one summer and in most cases, not even in a year. Most people with an enviable level of progress had to overcome a long journey which had started years ago, sometime even decades ago. If you start to enjoy this steady growth, the observation of your improvement will be easy and time will go fast. Slowly, but in most cases, the turtle gets first to the finish line.

This part also touches upon a progress regarding weights. When I was younger, anytime I tried to speed up my progress by increasing the weights too soon, I either ended up injured or I had to go back and fix the form and I was only wasting my time. The same happened when I was trying to build muscles during the night. I usually ended up gaining weight and looking less attractive than my slimmer version which I was trying to improve. Even though I am sure you know exactly how your body should look like at the end, it is equally important to set for yourself some small goals during your journey to the dream body. This will help you stay motivated and it will also boost your self-confidence.

Maybe you would like to push 140 kg on a bench press, but make sure you have enough space for the other milestones along your journey towards it, too. Make a deadline for 125 kg, then for 130 kg and so on. But most importantly, enjoy the process of improvement, because you will not find a huge instant satisfaction when it comes to long-term goals.

5 Muscle Building Mistakes and How to Fix Them (Alberto Nunez)

5) Gain some fat

In most cases, the problem is that people want to get from a wiry 65 kg boy to a 90+ kg Johny Bravo until the end of a year. Then we have another group which is nowadays as widespread as the “bulking” group. To this group belong guys who are “addicted to being shredded“. For this group, a bicep vein which is becoming less visible may cause panic attacks, lead to a carbs reduction and maybe also to adding a 7-day cardio workout into the training plan. Muscle formation is a metabolically expensive process, which means that your body will not invest into this process unless it feels a certain caloric surplus.

So you will have to eat more than your body needs and you will definitely gain also some fat during this process. Ideally only as much as you need for your growth, and yes, it differs from person to person. Some people can gain muscles and only lose the vascularity on their abs, but others have to forget about their six pack and return to having only hints of developed abs. Once again, it is individual and you should not ruin it by trying to stay more shredded than your body calls for during these phases. You want to be in a stage when your body runs hormonally and metabolically at full speed. That is when the biggest increase appears and remember, fat loss is a relatively short process contrary to muscle gain. Gaining 0,5-1 kg of muscles can be a matter of one year in case of a higher level of progress, but losing 2-3 kg of fat can be done in a few months.

Being ultra-lean is cool, but you should learn to embrace the process of muscle gain to reach a body which is worth being shredded. Don’t spoil it by wanting to stay too shredded, otherwise you will end up as the guy who looks the same every day.

5 Muscle Building Mistakes and How to Fix Them (Alberto Nunez)


To sum it up, you should plan in a long-term period of time and all the good decisions will pile up after some time. “Fast Food Solution” is never a good solution. This year may not be the one during which you gain 10 kg of muscles, but you can make some remarkable changes anyway. Think long-term, be perceptive and work hard. The rest will take care of itself.


[1] IFPA Profesionál Alberto Nunez - Top 5 Mass Gaining Mistakes & How To Correct Them, přeložené z – https://simplyshredded.com/time-to-grow-top-5-mass-gaining-mistakes-how-to-correct-them-written-by-ifpa-pro-alberto-nunez.html