By Nader Qudimat / Sep 11, 2014 Muscle gaining is no easy task. With so much conflicting information, it’s easy to slip from the fundamental basics. Whether you’re an advanced lifter or a beginner just starting out, here’s a useful checklist of seven MUST do’s and seven commonly made mistakes when it comes to gaining muscle mass… Do’s (What you should be doing) Train hard and smart. If you’re reading a magazine while you’re lifting a little colorful dumbbell, then you’re not training hard enough. Muscle building needs effort. Push and force yourself to improve each training session. Be consistent. Hitting the gym for 90 days will only get you so far. Continue to make training a life long habit. You’re going to see some awesome results if you’re committed to the gym. Aim to improve yourself every workout and stick to your routine like glue. Learn The flow of knowledge for muscle building is never ending. Keep an open mind to new techniques and programs. Keep learning new things and experiment with new stuff that you’ve never tried before. There’s no limit to how creative you can get with your workout. Drink water. Your performance will most certainly be limited if you’re dehydrated. Water is an important factor for maximum performance, both mentally and physically. Imagine experiencing a 10% drop in mental and physical performance! Stay hydrated and make it a habit to have a water bottle with you everywhere you go. Analyze your progress If you’re stuck in a rut with making more muscle gains, you’re more than likely missing something from your diet or training. Analyze your diet and training. Check if you’re missing something that could be the next big thing for your gains. Maybe you’re not eating enough protein, fats and carbs, or maybe you’re not giving yourself enough rest between workouts and your sleep isn’t enough. Plan. If you don’t know what you’re doing in your workout today, you won’t get anywhere. Failing to plan is planning to fail. Make sure you plan your workouts ahead and prepare for them. Your diet should also be planned as nutrition is half the battle. Make a plan for both your workouts and diet. I’ll need at least 4 hours to digest this pre workout meal! Refuel and prepare with food. Food is half the battle for muscle gaining. If you’re working out and neglecting your body’s need to repair and grow muscles, you’re going to notice a decline in your progress. Eating for muscle is just as important as training. Stick to foods that come from mother nature and try to keep it simple. An ideal meal in the morning should include eggs (best source of protein and good for fats), oatmeal (great energy source) and fruits (fiber). Dont’s (What you’re probably doing) Ignore your body’s signals for over training and/or potential injuries. If it doesn’t feel right, stop and fix your form. You may even have to drop a bit of weight if you’re going too heavy. It’s better to be smart about preventing injuries rather than risking something that could hold your progress back months, maybe even years! Rest if you feel the need for it. An extra day off won’t take away your muscle and strength gains. Lose sight of your target. If you’re looking at your phone, talking to your buddies about the upcoming game this weekend or even zombie-staring down chicks in the gym, then STOP. Refocus and get hyped up for your next exercise so you can hit your dream physique. This will take practice but that’s why you need some discipline to remain focused. Believe everything you hear or read. It’s nice to learn like we discussed, but lots of conflicting information out there will get you more lost than a rabbit stuck in a hole. This means you should check the credibility of the source of information before you even take another step. Does this mean you shouldn’t listen to me? Well hold that thought. Check the other sources for that information so you can make an informed decision if it’s worth experimenting with. With a bit of logic, and practice, you’ll soon be making better and faster decisions at what should be discarded or accepted. Replace food with supplements. Who wouldn’t want some of this fresh fruit?! With the science and technology we live with today, it’s not hard to say no to what seems inconvenient and time-consuming. While supplements can really give you an edge in your training and progress, it will NEVER replace real food. Your body is designed to consume real nutrients from food. Your diet should consist of mostly real food. Supplements will always be just that, supplements. They should only supplement your diet. Rely on fitness magazines. Fitness magazine can easily make one feel conscious about their gains and current state of their physiques. Tons of magazines will give you the advice of doing tons of sets of biceps just because a professional bodybuilder does it. You don’t know if they are taking steroids, have extremely gifted genetics for muscle growth, or whatever the case may be. What works for one person, doesn’t mean it’ll work for everyone else. Do the same workout. This will easily result in a disaster in results and progress. If you want to keep making progress, you have to stay ahead of your own body. This is where your mind comes in. Change up your training every once in a while so you have some freshness in some fun and style. You should be increasing reps, weights and/or rest time between sets every week. Expect to go easy for a week or two for every 4 to 8 weeks of intense training. Be negative. The whole beauty of training is the mastering of the mind. If you’re going to be negative, you’ll never the gains that you wish to make. Being a little positive will go a long way in bringing the energy and focus out of you. Believe that you can DO, that you can be better cause you can! The very first step into the gym you should be telling yourself that you’re going to have a great workout. Repeat and chant in your mind the awesome things that will come with hard efforts in your training! Stay and keep positive! Sometimes things won’t go your way, and trust me, they won’t. When they don’t, you should adapt and be a little flexible in making some changes. If your back feels a little sore from deadlifts, maybe you should delay the squats another day or even another week. If you fail a set or you didn’t get the number of repetitions that you planned to get, then take a longer rest period before you perform the set again, or save it for your next workout. Lastly, do smile and flex your biceps after every workout! Follow the advice in this article, it’s the basics of the basics. With them, your journey to making some serious gains will be inevitable! Nader QudimatForged by the iron and cold steel, Nader takes his knowledge and hulk smashes it into this puny site. Being an ex-hardgainer, he has no choice but to keep training until he has surpassed in every way imaginable. You can follow Nader on Twitter (@DieselFitt).