Skinny Guy Muscle Building Mistake #1: Broken Focus

By

Vince Del Monte, WBFF Pro Fitness Model, Certified Fitness Trainer
and Nutritionist and author of No Nonsense Muscle
Building.

“The successful warrior is the average man, with laser-like focus.” Bruce Lee 

“The shorter way to do many things is to do only one thing at a time.” Mozart

“Often he who does too much does too little.” Italian Proverb

“If you chase two rabbits, both will escape.” Anonymous

I’ll just come out and say it.

YOU are your own worst enemy when it comes to transforming your body. Not your genetics. Not your metabolism. Not your environment.

YOU!

And while I have one finger pointed at you, I have three fingers pointed right back at me because I’ve learned this the hard way.

Here’s the deal. It’s hard to say to yourself:

“I AM RESPONSIBLE for how I look and feel right now. I’m getting everything in life that I deserve right now based on the person I am being!”

It’s far easier to say, “It’s my genetics… or metabolism… or environment…” Right?

GIMME A BREAK!

That’s the line loser’s play. Don’t even try playing that card on me. You’re only fooling yourself. If you believe that, I hope you discover it sooner rather than later…

Today, you have to be 10 times more focused than 10 years ago (when I first transformed my body) because of the millions of blogs, websites, magazines and books available. Not to mention that the Internet has no “gatekeepers” so anyone with a pulse, Faecbook page/You Tube channel and decent physique can become a “fitness expert” overnight!

When it comes to building muscle, the most superior scientific muscle building knowledge is useless if you cannot focus on the information you do have and execute it with consistency and sufficient intensity.

Here are some of the deadly pitfalls of broken focus:

Goal Hijacking

Right now you have a goal. Consider it the original goal when you first enter the gym. It might be to increase your bench press by 50 pounds, or add 30 pounds of muscle, or achieve 8% body fat or maybe you want to compete in a fitness model show. Most likely you have a combination of visual goals and performance goals.

The key to achieving your original goal is to stay focused on the optimal training style that supports your goal. For instance, an individual purely focused on gaining 30 pounds of muscle should stick to traditional bodybuilding workouts. An individual purely focused on adding 50 pounds to his bench press should stick to traditional powerlifting workouts. Someone who prefers to train for the circus should stick to crossfit workouts. Someone who prefers to train for a comedy club should do wobble pad and Bosu workouts! 

With dozens of new training programs and products that offer you a new way to train and even a new identity (can you say, “I’m a CrossFitter for life…” or “I’m a functional trainer” or “I’m a hardcore powerlifter” etc.), it’s easy to forget that your original program was already designed to achieve your original goal!

Before you know it, you’re distracted and “testing out” every fitness program out there, even though the training style is not harmonious with your original goal!

Here’s the truth, your goals are your responsibility. Write them down. Review them daily. Only take advice that SUPPORTS YOUR ORIGINAL GOAL! If the advice does not support your goal, file it away or discard it until you accomplish the goal in front of you.

Program Hopping

Here is program hopping at its worst. You start off January following the 1-6 Wave Loading Principle to get your entire body stronger. February rolls around and you think your arms are lagging so you jump ship to the Swiss Ball Arm Workout. That lasts about one week, but since you still want to work on your arms you try out The One Day Arm Cure because someone told you Swiss Balls suck for mass building (they do). So you try the Arm Up workout promising 17-inch arms in four weeks. You gain a solid inch but notice some extra fat accumulating that you’re not happy with. This calls for the latest Bodyweight Stimulator workouts to blast the fat. Whatever happened to your original goal of getting stronger in January? This story is far too common.

There is a belief that the grass is greener on the other side.

 This is a flat-out lie.

 You know where the grass is green? The grass is green where you water it!

If you start doubting and second-guessing every program you start you’ll just spin your wheels and become a consumer, not a results-getter.

A program works only because you make it work! It’s your responsibility to follow it consistently, progress it incrementally and execute it wholeheartedly.

If you want a jaw-dropping physique you have to believe in yourself and the program and follow it until completion. Don’t be that guy who’s tried every muscle-building program on the planet but has nothing to show for it. That sucks!

Too Many Chefs In The Kitchen

This is a metaphor often used in business. Just as if six people were trying to season the same meal, similar chaos can exist when you take advice from too many fitness coaches at once. One of the reasons I gained 41pounds of muscle in six months when I first started was because I decided to follow one coach and one coach only. While I was taking his advice I shut myself out from the rest of the world’s advice. I was on a low information diet.

Many people never achieve their fitness goals because of the “too many chefs in the kitchen” syndrome. I believe this happens because, deep down, you’re afraid to put one person in charge – they may screw up. So you put many people in charge of your fitness goals.

But that’s an even bigger problem – you end up with too many solutions that lead to overlap, inefficiency and truckloads of confusion, contradiction and complexity.  Months pass and there’s still no agreement amongst your favorite fitness coaches and your body has barely changed.

My advice? Keep it simple. Pick one coach (with a proven track record of success) who helps you organize the chaos into a single, well-designed program, and don’t add another coach into the mix. You’ll be shocked by how fast your body changes when you apply a laser-like focus to your program and decide to learn from doing, not talking or reading about it. Less is often more.

Chasing Two Rabbits

A martial arts student approached his teacher with a question. “I’d like to improve my knowledge of the martial arts. In addition to learning from you, I’d like to study with another teacher in order to learn another style. What do you think of this idea?”

“The hunter who chases two rabbits,” answered the master, “catches neither one.”

The simplest example of “chasing two rabbits” in bodybuilding is the “Should I build muscle or lose fat, first?” debate. Also phrased like, “Should I bulk up first or should I cut first?” Rabbit 1 = bulking. Rabbit 2 = cutting. The question you must ask yourself is this: Which one is more important right now? Or where would you like to be three or four months from now?

Would you look better by adding 20 pounds of size to your frame? Or would you look better losing 20 pounds off your frame?

Trying to build muscle and lose fat at the same time is possible but extremely difficult and requires perfection of so many variables that bodybuilding would need to be your full-time job. Literally.

Here’s my strong suggestion: Focus on one goal and one goal only until you complete it. Do not shift your focus toward anything else until you accomplish this original goal. If your goal is to build muscle, submerge your life around muscle and don’t even give cutting a second thought until you achieve the muscle you desire. Then, and only then, can you refocus your energy and plan toward cutting. While you’re cutting, apply the same laser-like focus. The end product will be a dramatically bigger and leaner person and your friends won’t recognize you. This is the only simple way to catch both rabbits.

Very few people dramatically transform their body because they want to chase both rabbits at once – but they catch neither one. Don’t be that guy. It all comes down to avoiding broken focus.

========
Conclusion
========

That is muscle building mistake number one. Which one did you resonate with most? Which one do you need to fix? Let’s get 100 comments below and I’ll upload Mistake #2!

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Skinny Guy Muscle Building Mistake #1: Broken Focus , 5.0 out of 5 based on 2 ratings

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  46. Although female and male addiction share many similarities, female addiction is distinctly different.
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  47. Have you ever considered creating an ebook or guest authoring on other websites?
    I have a blog based upon on the same topics you discuss and would love to have you share some
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  48. Good day! I could have sworn I’ve been to this
    site before but after reading through some of the post I realized it’s new to me.
    Anyhow, I’m definitely delighted I found it and I’ll be book-marking and
    checking back often!

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  49. Excellent blog! Do you have any helpful hints for aspiring writers?

    I’m planning to start my own site soon but I’m a little lost on everything.
    Would you propose starting with a free platform like WordPress
    or go for a paid option? There are so many choices out there
    that I’m completely confused .. Any tips? Cheers!

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  50. The word hardgainer doesn’t even describe me. My metabolism is a monster. I lose 3 pounds while I sleep. No I don’t have a tape worm. And I am totally serious Help me………………….

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    • That 3 pounds is food and water you ate the day before. By the time you wake up its converted to crap which you expel. Not hard to figure out.

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    • Bro im no rocket surgeon but u breath out and sweat out water whike sleeping i lose 1-5lbs average a night from water thats why u need to hydrate urself in the morning upon waking. So dont worry its a good thing. Cheers.

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    • Hey. If you’re serious this problem of yours akes me worried xD but I swear it made me laugh.

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  51. i m followng al ur advises…they r realy helping me out…thnks Vince

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  52. Excellent article. It seems like every time I decide to start cutting, I drift back to my body building workout. Then I can’t figure out why I can’t get my waist smaller and why the weight scale keeps going up. After reading this article, I am going to focus on cutting and push through until it is done. Thanks for the Italian slap upside my head that tells me how I need to focus on one goal.

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  53. Hi Vince, just wanted to thank you for all your help & advice.. Another great article filled with useful information.!!!

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  54. Barney Vincelette August 21, 2012 at 11:23 am - Reply

    Thanks for the quote by Mozart. I will use it next time somebody bugs me when I am concentrating on something.

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  55. Thank you, Vince! That must be why my results are so disappointing. In high school, I was the proverbial 90 pound weakling, (only at 6′ – 5″ and 170#). I had all the skinny guy nicknames thrown at me at one time or another and rightfully so – I looked like a toothpick. Then, I got a job as a plumber’s apprentice and started putting on muscle and gained a ton of strength but, with the economy, that’s over. For the last 2 1/2 years I’ve been in a sedentary hotel job and actually went up to 239 pounds!
    But, by following your advice, mainly about diet so far, I’ve come down to 216 and am beginning to see again how much muscle I put on while plumbing. I’m new to your program so I’m just beginning to learn. I’m really looking forward to the gains you teach about. Thanks again!

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  56. Wow!! I’ve gotta say I am a victim of program hopping. And the thing is i did not even notice it until i read this article. Thanx for cutting the bullcrap and the good the advice, i needed this epiphany Vince, starting tomorrow I will choose one program and stick with it until the very end.

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  57. I totally agree. I’m currently recovering from a knee surgery, and I “know” that I can do more than my program. But if I discard my current progression, I’ll discard my current gains. I’ve got to fully recuperate as I slowly reacquire my leg strength and flexibility. “Going too fast” will just put me behind.

    MJR

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  58. Hi everyone!

    I’m the tipical guy trying to chase two rabbits at the same time and the result is…. nothing!
    So thank you for this article, it’s like everytime you publish one i feel like whoah you’re describing what i am going throught!

    Well, i just wanted to know: are your programs destined to people like me who easily gain a lot of fat i don’t pay attention to what i eat? As you are the skinny guys savior… Are you the fatty guy savior as well?

    Thank you very much!

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  59. Thanks for this post. Since I’ve ordered Hypertrophy M.A.X. I have ignored all other e-mails from other fitness people; I am only doing what Mr. Pakulski and Mr. Del Monte are shipping me on a monthly basis (and for the year). I don’t want my goals to be hijacked so I’m adhering to them and only them.

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  60. Focus is key, although this isn’t the first time you’ve mentioned something like this Vince. Its how you split the muscle building an the cutting phases in your books. Makes sense and the results are amazing!!!

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  61. Sai Zaw Htun Aung August 21, 2012 at 1:39 am - Reply

    Nice one, enlighten me

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  62. Sai Zaw Htun Aung August 21, 2012 at 1:34 am - Reply

    Wow, that is what I need now,I see. Thank you so much for this.Hope my comment could help my friendz & myself to read 2nd mistakes we could be making. & Get big fast. 🙂

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  63. DANIEL VILLALOBOS August 21, 2012 at 12:46 am - Reply

    MUY INTERESANTE HACE DOS MESES DECIDI QUE TU FUERAS MI ENTRENADOR Y DE HECHO ESTOS ULTIMOS DIAS ESTAVA PENSANDO EN CAMBIAR DE RUTINA PERO CON ESTE ARTICULO ME HE VUELTO HA ENFOCAR Y CONTINUAR CON LA MISMA HASTA TERMINARLA COMPLETA MUCHAS GRACIAS

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  64. Roger that coach!!…. locked and loaded and laser sights now switched on and ready to train differently!!

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  65. Hey coach,
    awesome article as usual. I think you hit it on the nose with the rabbit metaphor. I think EVERYONE can relate it to many aspects of their lives.

    Keep changing lives, my friend.
    Cheers. 🙂

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  66. WOW!
    Vince so good to hear brutally honest advice, YOU ARE THE MAN!!!
    I was caught in the two rabbit conundrum,
    saw no results for years, then after discovering YOU and your advice, I gave into the fact that to gain serious muscle I have to let go of my six-pack, so I did for 6 months
    and gained 10KG!!
    Now I am firmly focused on my cutting phase,
    1 month in and already I LOOK AMAZING can’t believe how much my body has changed now that the extra fat if FALLING off!

    All I can say is THANK YOU Vince
    you have changed my life!

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  67. Which also means it’s important to find the right coach or at least validate it with the coach if you decide to tweak your program. Most clients can’t follow it to 100%. I know I’m flawed lol. I even get the advice to “try it and journal” to figure it out if certain things work for me.

    I was at Paul Chek’s session at the CanFitPro conference. He said he didn’t like it when his clients add things to the program (e.g. going on an extra bike ride in a week), because he designed the program to balance it out and ensure recovery etc.

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  68. I used to search and search for a good programme even though I was already on one. I’ve been following the same programme now since Christmas and I’ve put on over 2 stone.

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  69. I used to search and search….and search for the right programme. I’ve followed one programme now since Christmas and I’ve put on over 2 stone with bf% always below 16.

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  70. Hey Vince,

    I would just like to say out of all the info i have seen people post on the net (and there is a lot) I heard you talk about this in one of your posts a while ago and have been trying it for the last 3 months and this is the most simple and effective thing to do to get a result. Focus on one phase at a time 100%, then move to your next one. Its the only thing that i have done that has given me a noticeable result. And compared to other things, its easy and cheap to do. As long as you get your food intake spot on and train hard, you cant go wrong!

    Thanks Vince

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  71. I feel my biggest hinderance is my diet, I just don’t know what to eat and when to eat it.

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  72. Vin,

    One of your better articles. Really hits home! Everyone (especially myself) needs to focus on just one goal. Accomplish that goal and then move to the next.

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  73. Chasing two rabbits would be my most likely failure.

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  74. From time to time, lack of focus and/or motivation, But definitely food for thought in the program hopping. Though I don’t really do that, I do mix it up as far as routine goes….so I’ll be more cognizant of making sure I am not veering too far off course, but simply keeping it fresh.

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  75. I believe what has been said is the truth and 90 percent of the people trying to workout give up without realising they wete actually chasing at least two rabbits.

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  76. Good post. The reason I have not accomplished some of my goals is lack of focus.

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  77. Wow! Back to UDT for me, time to re-dedicate and re-focus. What happens when you chase six rabbits? Time to get laser like,thanks!

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  78. This is absolutely 100% accurate. Thanks for sharing you are the real deal

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  79. Liked this article, it’s very true. I chase too many rabbits atm..bring on #2

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  80. Well,I’ll only chase one rabbit from hear out.

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  81. Wow, Vince…. Of all the great info you have put out for us to read and learn, this is now at the top of the list. This A.D.D. guy is going to recommit myself to eliminating distractions and truly (re)learning how to focus.
    I love the quotes, especially the two rabbits analogy.

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  82. Chasing two rabbits… 🙁

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  83. Great stuff Vince. Can’t wait for #2.

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  84. Great points. We are the architects of our lives and must take responsibility for all our actions – no excuses. Thanks for putting that into perspective.

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  85. I am guilty of all the pitfalls. Awesome reminder to focus on 1 thing at a time.

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  86. done all of them thanks for the wake up call:-)

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  87. This is great. I hope there will be something on what you are doing wrong when you don’t loose fat even though you only eat good fats and carbs and works out three to four times a week.

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  88. Thanks for the info Vince. It is me in every aspect. I have about 6/7 different programs some I haven’t even tried yet. I bounce from one program to another thinking the next one will be the one, but getting no where. So just from that piece of info I might start getting results faster. Thanks again.

    Chas

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  89. Really Good information, thanks Vince.
    Clearly and straight to the point as usual:-)

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  90. gimme more vince! your right its nice to be rippd and muscular but for me the first goal is to pack some mass!
    thanks to remind me!

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  91. I’m aiming to lose 0.1 pounds of body fat and gain 0.1 pounds of muscle a day – body recomposition. Conflicting goals but I’ve been lead to believe that it’s possible. Perhaps I’m the perfect example of what you’re taking about?!

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  92. Big mistakes a lit of people make is thinking they can train harder or more to get bigger…eat yourself bigger or leaner.Nutrition first, training second….but if you give 100% in the kitchen and 100% in the gym your results can be amazing.

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  93. Thanks Vince! This is exactly what I needed to hear today!

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  94. Awesome article.totally blowned away.now I know I should focus on bulking up without worrying about the fat. I can cut after 3 months.

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  95. Hey Vince, I’m kinesiology major, beachbody coach and have been researching nutrition for over 10 years! 2questions: which of your weightlifting programs should I do for long-term mass building as hardgainer? Second, what tips could you share with me for building successful fitness business?

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    • Hope you don’t mind me jumping in on this one Gab :). To answer both your questions if your looking to build mass for extend period of time NNMB is really good, if you’ve already completed that then maximize your muscle is a 12 month program just depends on you.

      Vince is a great person to observe in the fitness niche for business online and probably one of the best people to build a relationship with (my humble opinion lol.).

      But if you’re a newbie and seriously considering starting and building a successful online business I would recommend Jeff Usner. He gives more free ultra simple steps videos then a majority of information in premium products (They cost $297 to $497 typically)
      Pm on facebook if you have an questions and I’ll be more then happy to help :).

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  96. The part you have correct is that my health and mental state is my responsibility. The part that is missing is finding the diet that works for either cutting or bulking. No diet is working for me on either end. My stomach hates whatever is in it or not in it at 700PM.

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  97. Thanks Vince
    In this post you reminded me of what I need to do, I have a goal and I have been getting sidetracked. So from today I’m sticking it on top the screen here to be a reminder.
    Thanks and cant wait for the next post on skinny guy mistakes.
    cheers
    Andrew

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  98. That is honestly the hardest thing to do in the world. I feel fat when I bulk up so I cut, I cut and then bulk up again hoping for a difference. I am about 6’5″ and 170lbs. My Goal is to be 260lbs of solid muscle. This entire article seems to be my life story.

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    • Stphen; you are too thin for your height! 260 might be too lofty of a goal for you! Try instead for 240 and solid. Please get Vince’s No nonsense book and try it out for the 29 weeks!

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      • Thank you Frank! As soon as I can afford it I will certainly get the book.

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  99. He who hunts two rabbits will catch neither… I believe that is an old Native American saying.

    Nevertheless, it’s very true. I have seen too many times when someone changes programs too early because it “doesn’t work”… yet. All too often people quit before they see their goals because they do not have immediate satisfaction.

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  100. That’s it! I’m having another breakfast…

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  101. great stuff vince..would love to hear more blogs about kissing my gains goodbye!

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  102. This is lovely, so 21 Day FMB what kind of hunting would you say it is? (Talking about rabbits)

    Are you chasing both?

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  103. the problem with the “teacher” and two rabbits analogy is figuring out which teacher to trust in the first place. how can you know if you can trust the first teacher if you dont seek out others for comparison.

    i think every “teacher” or trainer is going to get you results. the question is which trainer will get you the most efficient results.

    but this was the best line in the article: “You know where the grass is green? The grass is green where you water it!”

    that’s a great line. you could apply it this way: dont worry what all the bigger guys in the gym are doing, focus on improving yourself and nothing else

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  104. definitely have a problem with panicking a bit after a month of bulking and wanting to switch back, despite muscle (and fat) gain, to lean fat cutting routine. i can never decide if i want to stay at 8% bf or add muscle (and go up in bf).

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  105. This was a great article!!
    For me its chasing two rabbits, that’s the one I have a problem with. Also something else that resonated with me was the Too Many Chefs In The Kitchen analogy. It is truly better to just have a laser-like focus and just listen to only one person.

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  106. You are so right, trying to do to many things at one time and information overload are two of the biggest problems I’ve run into. Focus on one thing at a time and get that one thing right.

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  107. Thanks so much Vince, this was really helpful and has answered so many questions and has given me a fresh look on things so I now know where to focus my energy on!!

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  108. Let’s see what mistake #2 is!! Thank you for all of the information you put out, and the hard work you put forth to helping others achieve their goals. You do good work!

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  109. We are, our on worst enemy we look for any excuse sometimes to say why I’m not reaching my goals besides the main one, I’m not do dedicated to the task at hand to get in shape.
    Another problem is we live in a microwave world everyone wants it right now instead of being patient and putting in WORK

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  110. I always keep my workouts simple just as long as the given exercises work all the muscles, too much can be counterproductive.

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  111. That’s great advice! Build muscle first and cut later!!

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  112. I used to always jump from plan to plan , untill i found live large tv ive been on track for the last 3 months . Thanks vince !

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  113. good article with some solid advice. Now days people hop from program to program to program and from supplement to supplement think they need the next best thin to get big. I am a big fan of the tried and true methods! Eat right, lift big and sleep well!

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  114. Great tips and reminders Vince. Funny, with all the new products, programs, and advances in science…effective, efficient, results oriented muscle building and fat loss still come back to following the same principles that have been in existence for the last 20 plus years. Unfortunately, in a society where we want it all and we want it now, we keep thinking we should do things differently than what those proven principles have shown.

    Thanks again Vince! Looking forward to the next post on mistake #2.

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  115. I think chasing 2 rabbits was exactly my position. I know I have to put some muscle, but too scared to get more fat, because cutting seems almost impossible. But no matter, I know what I have to do, it’s time to follow healthy bulking without looking back.

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  116. I love it. I’m gonna quote my favourite part on my page, hope you don’t mind.

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  117. Good article:) Also love the HMax program.

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  118. I CUDN’T AGREE MORE

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  119. I wanted it all! Get stronger because I was a prey for the bullies when I was at school. Get bigger because I got to be called skinny by my surrounding. Get a six pack abdos because it’s fashionned and it impresses the gals.
    I DID have results : From skinny and weak, I became a guy in the average. But the lot of informations on the net makes me pass more time in front of my computer than working out!

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  120. An overly literal interpretation of good information can be counter-productive.

    Maintaining muscle confusion is a means to continual development and growth that can involve using a variety of training methods toward a planned result. Certainly doing the same workout for months can lead to plateaus and stagnation, and there are many “types” of strength and muscle character. I cycle through a variety of designed weight training programs, including also isometrics, swimming, and other cardio, all toward the one goal of strength with flexibility and speed.

    This area of discussion, while bringing forth much valuable information, is at risk of doing harm through the high possibility of misinterpretation.

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  121. This is actually a mistake I was making when I first started working out. I took too much information from too many different sources. it was about 6 months before I started focusing on one goal at a time with one guru did I start to see results.

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  122. Holy moly, you hit the nail right on the head about myself! I’m a 45 year old cop that is guilty of this in both working out and the martial arts. My main goal is to get stronger and better conditioned, but I try too many different programs. The same goes with martial arts. I want to be better at stand up then better at the ground. So, I don’t get either accomplished. Thank you and sorry it is so long
    Brian

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  123. Great advice. Thanks Vince! Since I’m relatively new to body building exercise programs, this was a great article for me. –Now, back to my original goals: burning fat and building lean muscle.

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  124. Great advice all around from Vince,as usual and I will commit to gaining muscles and forget about the belly.

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    • You don’t have to gain lot of bellyfat to add muscle. Mct oil is perfect way to decrease fatmass while in surplus! Body can’t store it and it acts like a carbohydrate .

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      • great suggestion there Gab! I use MCT in a muscle building phase and have also had success using it in a cutting phase.

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  125. Awesome information vince. Thank you and god bless.

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  126. I will follow one goal at a time yes

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  127. The chasing two rabbits thing is defiantly me all over. I start off focusing on putting on size, but as soon as I start getting it and putting on that little bit of body fat I get scared of being fat and start trying to cut, afraid that I will lose my 6 pack and have a belly.

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  128. I like this article very much. It is full of nice and strong advices.

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    • I agree…and realize I forgot to thank Vince for that!

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  129. I like this article. It is full of nice advices.

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  130. Great info! Love the story about the rabbits. Vince tells it how it is and isn’t affraid to *call out* the money hunger blood suckers who don’t wanna help just make you weak and poor.

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  131. Wow u hit right on the spot. great info Vince, thanks

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  132. This article is full of too many truths

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  133. Good article, food for thought here

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  134. Excellent article Vince I could feel your intensity and passion about this topic. I like the analogy about chasing two rabbits, so true!

    Bring on mistake #2 🙂

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  135. Well I think this info has helped me more than any other thing iv seen. Needed this info. I think I’m guilty of every last one. Time to focus and stay focused. Thanks man

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  136. Is very similar a the situation of high school.
    if you need to pass a written, you need focus in the study and after you can go to the night or other a activity do you like.

    Good Job Vince.

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  137. This article was very insightful!! Thanks for posting, I agree set your mind to one goal and only one, then once achieved move on to the next goal. This is hard to do but worth it right 🙂

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  138. I LOVED the article. The last one on chasing two rabbits resonated with me most! Can’t wait for the next one. I truly believe that developing focus is the most valuable skill you can learn.

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