7 Bodybuilding Mistakes to Avoid if You Want to Reach Your Full Potential!

These are some essential bodybuilding tips to live by!

As a coach and IFBB bodybuilder myself, most people are focused on the idea of burning fat, and getting in shape for a physique competition. These are the most common mistakes I see people making during a competition prep.

You can look really good when sticking to a deficit coupled with a good amount of cardio. Then as you’re 2-4 weeks out, it seems like you look stringy and flat. And at the end of the day, you’ve found yourself pulling over that nearest fast-food joint and to scarf down a #5 to “fill yourself out”. These are the likes of fries, greasy burger, and a soda big enough to fill up your muscular glycogen.

You then get distraught and feel a certain guilt as that drama proceeds and your abs look blurry the next day with a film of water. You obviously get pissed at yourself and that increased cortisol only makes things worse honestly. You decide that you have just blown your diet anyway, and with the same defeated attitude, you rush home and sink into the best of Ben and Jerry’s and pairing it with a Twinkie for good measure and still feeling like crap. You then think of tomorrow being a new day, and you want to go back to your strict diet. Is this familiar?

So, seeking for that perfect balance of mass and conditioning in the midst of great desire and pressure, people have ended up failing over and over again mentally and physically. The only problem is being human. We’re flawed and end up messing up. Yet an important part to get this perfect or near-perfect look is understanding the difficulties and challenges involved for that impressive physique you admire. Consider these mistakes and solutions I commonly see among physique athletes:

Nutrient Density

Successful dieters and fitness often eat basic food like chicken and rice. Basically, those who chomp to swallow rarely chew as they scarf down their chicken and rice and are left still hungry after their meal. Basically, it takes time for the stomach to alert the brain that it has had enough of the food and we can also trick it into being more full. So, as food descends through the stomach and small intestine, it will be sending chemical messengers through the nervous system and promotes a feeling of being full or satiated to the brain primarily with the hormone leptin which gets depleted after long periods of dieting.

If you include bulky low nutrient dense foods like broccoli, spinach, and other green veggies, then your stomach can be more full and send that signal of satiety even if the total calories are equal. This is an easy quick method to allow the competition prep or fat loss phases to be much more enjoyable.


A successful diet is dominated by the principle of moderation as its key with limits on total calories to ensure a caloric deficit. Many people will restrict certain foods completely such as ice cream, pizza and cake, as they claim that these are “unclean”. They might strongly believe the misconception that just a single slice of pizza triggers the consumption of every piece of a pie and will make them fat. This can lead to severe restrictions in many people’s dieting methods.

If you crave a specific food like ice cream, let your coach know so adjustments can be made. And if you don’t have a coach, fit it into your total calories. This also increases dietary adherence and long term fat loss and conditioning. The key is to be responsible and not binge. By fitting your favorite foods into your total calories and maintaining the planned deficit, you can feel good about enjoying your food and stay on track with your goals.

Fast Food and Casual Dining

Whenever you are traveling and you find yourself hungry, that 1,200 calorie meal the size of your fist might not be the best choice. The ideal situation would be to hit the grocery store and stock up on essentials that travel well such as tuna cans and beef jerky for protein, rice cakes and fruit for carbs, and nuts for fats. Next best, is being aware of what you are eating. Check the website for nutrient information for where you’re going to eat. Fit the meal to your goals. Places like Chipotle can be easily customized to fit your goals.

Night-time Eating

Imagine a competitor was sticking to the basic principles to perfect his diet. He confessed that he had eaten a meal of egg whites with toast and fruit, mid-day meals of chicken, rice, and veggies, and a dinner of beef and veggies around 6pm. It sounds like a perfect diet, right? Now here is the mistake: He actually ate a dozen cookies and a large bag of chips at 10pm.

This is a multifaceted issue and must be looked at. Is he binging because he’s hungry? Is he just grazing on snacks while watching TV? What made him go open that bag of chips and cookies? It’s typically a combo. An easy fix might be placing his last meal closer to bedtime to not allow time to stuff his face. Another might be not keeping those foods in the house during prep. Pay attention to how you feel through the day and night. Eat your meals spread throughout the day to energize the body leaving little room for sneaking in snacks. If you want to add chips or cookies into your plan because they are important to you, that’s doable too but at a predetermined amount and mealtime allowing for diet adherence and long-term success.

Blood Sugar Levels

Many bodybuilders have it in their mind that sugar is public enemy #1. While others understand the necessity of sugars to energy levels, glycogen, and maintaining muscle. The former category always end up fighting their severe cravings and will typically binge on “cheat days” or even worse, look tiny and fat at their show. By spreading sugars, simple carbs, throughout the day and specifically targeting the pre-workout and post-workout meals with carbs, you can get the most out of them while staying on target for fat loss.

Tempting Junk Food At Work

Maybe, you frequently start each of your days with an ideal diet plan but then something else gets your attention. The cinnamon rolls by the office kitchen look warm and gooey. You can’t resist. The go-to solution, if you can’t tell by now, is to fit that into your plan! Maybe have no extra carbs with your fish, chicken, or beef, plus veggies for your work meals. Maybe stay away from the kitchen so you don’t tempt yourself. There are plenty of ways to adjust plans based on priorities for you.

All vs None

This occurs when the competitor takes in something thought of as an “off-limit food” or eats to much out with friends, or does anything to go off plan, then gets down into his mind and takes it overboard to eat more than it is thought of as necessary, also known as binging. The key to this approach is first and foremost, getting your mind and relationship with food right.

Do you need a therapist to work through unresolved childhood traumas? Medication to keep your mood stable? That’s alright and something that many more people nowadays are coming to terms with. After that, as you can see by now, fit your goals to your priorities.

If you truly want to be a successful physique competitor, you must adequately prepare for your competition. That includes, at the most basic level, eating in a caloric deficit and performing cardio to ensure proper conditioning and eating enough protein and resistance training to ensure you maintain muscle mass. If you can do those things, the rest can be made to fit your priorities.

For more news and updates, follow Generation Iron on FacebookTwitter, and Instagram.

Nick Trigili is a respected IFBB Pro bodybuilder and trainer. Check him out on Instagram, Twitter, and Facebook for more informative content. Also make sure to visit his official personal training website – World Class Trainers.

Strength Wars Movie

Header image courtesy of Envato Elements