10 Solid Reasons You’re Not Gaining Muscle
Sometimes the best way to solve a problem is simpler than we perceive it to be. Sure, heavy marketing from companies with something to sell will painstakingly attempt to convince you they have to latest trick or shortcut for you to get to where you want to be. But what I’ve found in life is that the answers are often right in front of us.
Take building lean muscle, for example. For decades gym “experts”, magazines, websites and blogs have all spouted so-called secrets toward this goal. They have exhausted all avenues, promised results and yet they keep coming back with even more “breakthrough” information for you to swallow.
Related: How to Gain Muscle Fast
But what if the answers were easier to get to? What if you simply needed to review the basics of training and nutrition and just strengthen your discipline and resolve?
Below are ten possible reasons you may not be making gains. Whether you’re guilty of a few or violate all ten, one things is for sure; we could all use a little house cleaning when it comes to improving our efforts in and out of the gym.
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Why You’e Not Gaining Muscle
#1 – You don’t eat enough
At first glance this is a no-brainer and you might be thinking that this advice is nothing new. But here I am talking about eating enough of the right kind of foods for muscle growth.
Are you honestly eating enough real food? I’m talking whole food proteins such as fish, chicken, beef and eggs, whole complex carbs like rice, potatoes and oats and healthy fats such as nuts, olive oil and avocado. If you aren’t eating a balanced, whole food diet to begin with forgo the supplements until you have a proper eating plan in place.
Also, develop consistent eating habits each and every day. Sporadic eating will only get you sporadic results at the very best.
#2 – You eat too much
In the other side of the coin, many gym-goers on the seemingly never-ending quest to bulk up will often eat way too much of the not-so-good stuff. Not only do they eat too many calorie dense foods with no real plan in sight, they also eat the wrong types of foods.
With a bulking mindset many treat it as a green light to eat anything and everything from simple, sugar-filled carbs to fat-dense snacks. This is all done in hope of one day to lean-up and get shredded. But “one day” isn’t a day of the week.
Eating a little over maintenance of the right kinds of foods is all it takes to make small but steady progress each week. Cramming your gullet with comfort foods will only send your progress in reverse.
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#3 – You don’t lift enough
First off; this may seem a bit convoluted. Most advice hovers around the notion that you need to lighten your load and focus on perfecting your form on exercises such as squats, bench presses and rows. But here I want to stress the importance of progressive overload.
So many modern day gym-goers aren’t in it to win it. They don’t want to go through the pain and discomfort that is needed in order to progress. Shooting for another rep every so often won’t cut it.
You need to strive for the best of both worlds: Put enough weight on the bar to challenge your mettle and practice proper form within the correct rep ranges for muscle growth.
#4 – You lift too much
Now for the piece of advice you’ve possibly read many times over but bears repeating and enforcing. I can’t stress enough the importance of using proper form. This is usually interrupted by ego.
Ego rears its ugly head, too much weight is loaded onto the bar and the whole-body convulsion/contortion begins. Swinging, swaying and cheating the overloaded barbell or pair of dumbbells becomes the new standard without any sense of function or technique.
Only two things can come out of this: You get injured and any and all progress either halts completely or you actually take steps backwards on the ladder to more muscle.
#5 – You’re an event lifter
Are you a professional powerlifter? Is every day in the gym an opportunity for a new personal record? Do you put on shows of strength each day in order to impress your friends? What am I getting at?
Don’t make every single set of every single lift a major event. It’s training. If gaining muscle is your goal then train like it is. If you want to gain strength then longer rest periods, a focus on meeting rep goals and weight loads is in order.
If you want muscle size then focus on fatiguing the muscle with lots of sets and reps and shorter rest periods. Don’t make each set an event, train with a good pace and approach training as if you’re training your body versus simply lifting weights.
#6 – You like the mirror too much
Training your mirror muscles will only get you half way to your goal. Exclusively focusing on your chest, arms and shoulders will do if you never wear shorts but to build a proportionate, symmetrical physique from head to toe will take a whole-body approach to training. Neglecting legs, for example, is a missed opportunity to rev-up your metabolism, build overall power and strength and coax the entire body into growing.
Have a training partner assess your weak points. Next, double up on areas in need of improvement. For example, you can perform twice as many sets for back than for chest if you lack posterior muscle mass.
#7 – You party
I’m not opposed to the occasional drink or two during the week but if your goal is to pack on some serious muscle and get or stay lean then binge drinking and going on weekend benders isn’t the best method. Overdoing alcohol consumption dehydrates muscle cells making it virtually impossible for protein synthesis to occur – the vital process for building new muscle.
With too much consumption comes poor dietary habits. Late night binge eating, lack of water intake and electrolyte imbalances all come into play prohibiting you from progressing even in the slightest. If you are serious about your physique pursuits you will have to sacrifice and temper your partying.
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#8 – You study/research (a lot)
Doing your due diligence when it comes to finding out everything you can about training and nutrition is a noble pursuit. After all the more knowledge you possess the better decisions you are able to make.
Knowledge is power but only to a certain extent. If you have harnessed and stored a wealth of information without any action then what you’ve collected is rather useless. Sure, you can talk a good game but without acting you are simply dead in the water.
Gain knowledge then act. Only thorough action will you learn what actually works and what doesn’t for you personally.
#9 – You don’t stay hungry
Simply put, don’t just go through the motions. Don’t just move along in your workout lifting the same amounts of weight, the same number of sets, the same number of reps and the same levels of intensity.
Enter the gym with a mission in mind. Ask yourself why you are there, what can be different today and what progress can you make. Become engaged with what you’re doing, the exercises you’ve chosen and what your body is going through during every workout. If it’s too boring find another program to start or shift modes of training.
#10 – You lack confidence
One sneaky culprit from “nogainsville” is the lack of confidence you may have in what you’re doing. You might not subconsciously believe in the program you are following. You doubt it will get you to where you want to go. In turn, you put in only half of the effort required to see results.
You need a new perspective. Don’t think of the program you are following as the answer. Instead, think of the amount of effort, will power and energy coming from you will make any program work.
It is up to you not the program to garner results. Only you have the power of action, fortitude and faith in your ability to make your goals a reality.