I have made quite a few muscle building mistakes over the years that I regret, and today I'm sharing them with you. I'm going to discuss my 16 greatest regrets I made both in the gym and in the kitchen, when it came to my pursuit of building muscle and getting ripped.

I started my journey of no longer wanting to be a skinny kid when I was about 13 years old. I trained alongside my older brother and tried to copy the exercises and workouts that he was doing. Along the way, I missed some important lessons and wound up paying the price.

Today, I'm going to share with you some of those that I really wish I could go back and change. If I could have had this video available to me as a young teenager and into my twenties, I feel like I'd have a much different physique these days and one that was less rife with physical issues that came from poor training and education.

As a physical therapist, it starts with being able to take my knowledge now and forgive myself for simply not knowing what I do today. For instance, when I first started working out, I would open up the muscle building magazines and try to follow the 30-40 set routines and workouts of bodybuilders like Shawn Ray.

Along the way, I would experience pain and joint discomfort from performing the exercises incorrectly and doing them with incredible amounts of what would be junk volume. Not being enhanced like the models were, led me to experience much different results than what I expected from looking at their pictures alone and not knowing the whole story.

I also was quite naive when it came to nutrition and supplementation. I thought, for instance, that all oats were created equal. This couldn't be any further from the truth. My early days of eating Quaker Maple Brown Sugar oatmeal in the packets led to lots of consumption of sugar with little benefit. The regular slow cook oats had zero grams of sugar. Only with education was I able to identify that and make the change that would lead to lower levels of body fat and a more ripped physique.

I also had many mistakes when it came to performing exercises I probably should not have. Years of damage were done in a short period of time by performing strength based exercises without properly addressing my flat feet. The poor biomechanics and form on the exercises led to a quick breakdown of my knees which still plague me to this day.

I often overlooked the benefits of progressive overload in my training. This was particularly true of my bodyweight and calisthenic exercises. Instead of opting for more overload in the form of a harder variation of the common exercise, I would just try to build more muscle by adding on more and more reps. This was a mistake I'd come to learn later in life but has paid big dividends since fixing.

Nutrition has always been a struggle for me. I went from not caring enough to caring way too much and becoming almost obsessive about what I put in my mouth. In previous videos I discussed how I became fat phobic and avoided almost all dietary fats. Here I talk about the inflexibility I had when working in professional baseball and found myself on the road with very few options for healthy nutrition at my disposal – at least not cheaply.

I also discuss my oversight when it came to the value of eccentrics, particularly on pulling exercises. It's not hard to remember to slow down the rep on the way down in a pushing exercise like the bench press. This is often an automatic built-in body protection mechanism that keeps you safe under heavy loads. In pulling exercises however, the weight tends to fall away from you. It's easy to forget about lowering it slowly and because of that, you forego one of the greatest stimuli for muscle growth and gains.

Speaking of lost gains, it's easy to do when you are training in pain. I made the mistake of trying to workout with pain rather than around it. There is a big distinction between the two. If you want to keep building muscle fast then you have to respect when things aren't right in your body and find a way to keep training without continuing to aggravate the inflammation in your joints or injury to your muscles.

My personal battle with a shoulder injury took longer than I would have liked because I originally tried to keep performing the very exercises that were leading to pain and discomfort when performing them.

For this and other muscle building mistakes I regret making, be sure to watch the entire video. If you haven't done so, remember to subscribe to our channel via the link below.

Also, if you are looking for a program and meal plan that takes away all the guesswork and leaves you with nothing but gains, be sure to visit athleanx.com via the link below and use the program selector to find the program that best matches your current goals.

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    40 replies to "16 Muscle Building Mistakes I REGRET Making!"

    • ATHLEAN-X™

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      • Dr Troy

        Great content, as usual! As a newbie, I see myself doing a lot of these mistakes, so thanks for the guidance! Great water tip! Bringing more water to work starting tomorrow, lol !

      • Nom Nom

        @situation unchanged search athleanx flat feet

      • Nom Nom

        @13 Casio
        search athleanx shoulder band
        Search athleanx shoulder bodyweight

      • Honey badger Don't care

        I guess mine would be not training in a split format. After working chest and tris for example I would train abs with nothing in the tank. From your channel I learned the split. Train abs separately so you can go all out

      • Sebastiaan Stok

        @Nom Nom Yep, it really worked for me. My arches really improved, but more sure to continue! I stopped a for short while and my problems returned.

    • GF7FIT

      Always putting out professional content with great advice for beginners or advanced lifters

    • Michael Warner

      You help me a lot with my workouts and explain things in simple terms and you’re very honest with us all on how to build muscle. Thank you so much for your help and support bro. I look forward to seeing more videos and learning more from you.

    • Gym Garage Man

      Started training in old school gyms 40 years ago heard every bit of complicated advice! Just train because you love it and if you love it you will succeed..thanks Jeff 💪

      • Dave Hopkin

        BRUTAL training on your channel garageman keep going

      • Pierre A

        Looking excellent at 50

      • KEITH NONE

        Just train cuz you love it????? It gets me so high and better than pain killers with it’s after affect. It’s like I get high and then after workout or b ball practice hear comes the sadaters. But I don’t won’t what older guys or old men have I want what teenagers have and I’m going to do it teenage style and make big sister and the momas happy. Ha ha

      • mm


    • Daniel Mulero

      I have done many more mistakes than you. Above all of them was the fact of not paying attention to my overall posture when training. Now, thanks to your advice, I am more aware than ever of this particular mistake. Thank you.

    • Nom Nom

      0:15 Less Junk Volume = Less Body Breakdown
      1:27 Know and Respect your body’s limitation
      2:11 Chest Exercises = Keep Shoulder Blades down and back, Sternum at front
      4:31 Do Corrective Exercises (improve Strength & Aesthetics)
      5:25 Actively seek Mind Muscle Connection

      7:43 Control/Slow down the Eccentric
      8:44 Do harder exercises instead of keep adding reps to the easy ones (Calisthenics)
      13:35 Train through Injury (Train against your body) vs Train around Injury (Train with your body)
      15:05 Increase Intensity = Shorter Workout Duration

      0:52 Watch out for Trap Food
      3:15 Don’t be too Rigid, be more Flexible with how you eat
      6:33 Honor your Sweet to stay Consistent

      9:42 Meal Prep (Prepare your meal beforehand)
      10:44 Electrolytes and Sugar (Don’t Copy Other Pro Athlete’s Nutrition)
      12:37 Keep yourself hydrated, drink water after you wake up

      • Master Splinter

        Nom Nom I appreciate this bro.
        I watched the whole video but I wasn’t jotting it down. You helped big time. Thanks!

      • Bảo Ngọc

        thank u so much!!

      • Sandro


      • fabiolas4

        Thx man, greatly appreciated!

      • Wayne McAurthur

        @Anonymous I wear steall toe shoes. I do not need a 110lb dumbell crushing my toes

    • Ethan Byrne

      You made some great points, Jeff. I remember you mentioning in an older video about unshrugging your shoulders in a bench press or pushup. It didn’t occur to me till now that the same is important in other chest exercises. Also, you just gave me a valuable piece of advice when you said to work around injuries instead of through them. In my history of gym injuries, I would stop training for months before I would attempt to start training again. However, after watching your channel for a little while longer, I found that you provide a ton of knowledge in how to do that. All of this and more are reasons why you’ve helped me in my fitness journey, and I’m sure I could say the same for many others. Thanks for another helpful video.

    • Dwoprus

      My biggest regrets:
      1) Not developing an overall level of athleticism before I even hit the gym. I should have worked on my push-up abilities before starting bench presses. I should have worked on my bodyweight squats before getting under a bar. And most importantly *I should have done A LOT more cardio to get my cardio conditioning up before getting serious about lifting weights* I was getting tired very quickly during my routines.

      2) Not dialing in my nutrition properly. I was skinnyfat when I started, and I didn’t realize how much fat I was carrying and how little muscle I was carrying. I bulked up by eating junk food to round out my calories because that’s what a lot of fitness youtubers were pushing. The fact is when you’re starting out you need to eat clean, regardless. No Pop-Tarts!

    • phoenix in the trees

      And the greatest decision you made was to share your knowledge with millions of people around the world who have benefitted massively from your experience and skills. Thanks, Jeff.

    • InStrong Workout

      *Amazed by your hard work! Your tips are always making my workouts bette!. I always dreamed of helping people like u bro, now trying my best so thanks for the motivation and best wishes form Ukraine*

    • Abhishek Kumar

      Jeff, could you please make a video on corrective exercises, covering all body parts and how to fit them in our regular training sessions ?

      • gunsandcommissions

        That would be amazing. I noticed yesterday that my shoulder on my left side tends to slouch forward. That shoulder is also very tight and susceptible to pain. I know it’s out of alignment when I lift because I can see it. I think my body is trying to protect it from injury, but I think the misalignment is causing other problems in my neck.

    • Serge Morin

      Quick idea here: how about a video specifically on corrective exercises and their benefits, thanks Jeff !

    • Agent Orange

      I always wondered about the contraction discomfort when doing dumbells, didn’t know if i should just stop or keep going. That electric tringle feeling on my forearms was getting me worried.
      But still, i don’t know if i should just stop or keep going since i know i can do better.

    • Armir

      5:56 I’d love to see a detailed video on muscle cramps and what triggers them. My biceps cramp up quite often either when doing curls or chin-ups.

      • Zach Lewis

        Same for my calves. I was pinching my nerve

      • JohnnyScotchman

        @Zach Lewis beware that you don’t have anterior compartment syndrome. I have extremely developed calves , ignored the pain/cramping and now have had multiple surgeries and have significant neuropathy . My calves are down to about 16.5 inches but , aside from the giant scars , still look very well developed . Obviously can’t train them anymore but you should get that looked at before it gets too outta hand.

      • Nom Nom

        Watch this video
        “Muscle Cramps Working Out (WHAT REALLY CAUSES THEM!) · ATHLEAN-X”

      • Nom Nom

        Skip the chinup for now

    • David Gil Navascués

      Maybe you have less views than other years, but I will never abandon you. I found your channel when I was absolutely broken (physicaly and mentally) and I was in a very bad condition. But you made me change, you made me get my best shape and I still keep it. So, Jeff, thanks. Thanks for all.

      • David Gil Navascués

        P.d. I am so sorry about your biceps 🙏🏼

    • DaveB

      Looking back to my early teens cluelessly working out in my friends basement, it is mind boggling how much more I know 50 years later thanks mostly to you.

    • Mike McClellan

      My biggest regret is not taking my fitness seriously until I was 38. I’m 40 now and have lost 105 pounds but have hit a major plateau. I’m not giving up but really wish I started taking fitness seriously a lot sooner. But, @Jeff, your videos are soon helpful and I love your 100 series!

    • Rex Colubra’s All-Animal Channel

      The one thing that I wish I could do over with my training was trying to speed through the process. I didn’t allow for the tendons to advance with the muscle and I had injuries. Wasn’t until later that I learned about tendon strength and conditioning.

    • Steve Danner

      #15 hit home for me. I injured my arm in June and totally worked THROUGH it until September when I started seeing a physical therapist who immediately instructed me to work AROUND it, like you mentioned. Great advice all around! Thanks Jeff!

    • Tim Hornecker

      Jeff, I appreciated your openness in this latest video. I am a firm believer I must continue to achieve personal growth if I want to continue to create physical growth. You are a living example of this. At age 67, my strength continues to grow in both areas. You have been an insightful and inspiring teacher. My heartfelt thanks!

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