10 reasons you’re not building muscle…
1. Not eating enough
Building muscle requires a lot of energy. You need to be consuming more calories than your body needs (a caloric surplus) to effectively put on muscle. If you don’t consume enough calories, your body will resort to breaking down muscle tissue for energy. A little counter productive, wouldn’t you say?
2. Not working hard enough
When you initially start lifting weights, the results come pretty fast and easy. This is often referred to as ‘newbie gains’. Once the magical newbie gains period wares off, building muscle gets tough. You can’t just rock up to the gym, half-ass your way around the weights area and watch your t-shirt or gym leggings tighten. Put on some heavy music or get yourself some caffeine. Whatever you need to do, make sure you get yourself pumped up for the session and ensure you are working hard enough!
3. Not enough protein
This one is often overplayed and some people take it to the extreme. Yet, one reason you might not be building muscle is that you are not consuming enough protein. Government protein guidelines are all well and good if you are a sedentary adult. If you are exercising regularly and wanting to build muscle, your body’s protein requirements increase somewhat. 0.8g of protein per kg of bodyweight is the current UK recommendation if sitting down is your hobby. If building some guns is your game, aim for somewhere between 1.4-1.8g of protein per kg of bodyweight.
4. Too much cardio
Although most gym rats seem to be allergic to cardio, it is difficult to ignore the health benefits and cardio should not be ignored completely. However, if you are on the other end of the spectrum and performing long cardio sessions on a regular basis, then you might be stunting your growth. Firstly, you need to be sure of what your fitness goals are. Training for a marathon? Excellent, keep at that cardio! Wanting to build a big physique? The odd cardio session can be used to supplement your training plan, but make sure the majority of your workouts are in the weights area.
5. Not tracking your workouts
A lot of guys and girls are reluctant to start tracking their workouts. They feel a little silly walking around the weights area with a notebook. But once you start, you’ll never go back to freewheeling your sessions. If you don’t write down your workouts, how are you going to know how much you lifted last time? Don’t you tell me that you remember every set, every rep and every weight you’ve ever lifted. Leave the ego at home and buy yourself a notebook.
6. You’re not pushing yourself harder every time
This builds on from our last point. Increasing the volume of weight lifted over time is the key to muscle growth. How do you know if this is happening if you don’t WRITE YOUR WORKOUTS DOWN? Keep note of every session and try and advance every workout by either one repetition or by increasing the weight.
7. High levels of stress
Cortisol is the body’s stress hormone. Chronically high cortisol levels are detrimental to muscle growth and can even be catabolic (muscle wasting). You need to make time for ‘you’. We all want to be a beast in the gym and train with 100% intensity every time we set foot in the weights room, but it’s just not going to happen. What is it that relaxes you? Maybe it’s playing a musical instrument. Or get the candles out and run yourself a nice warm bath. Whatever it is, make time for ‘you’.
8. Not resting enough and allowing your body to grow!
Rest is one of the most overlooked aspects of most people’s training programmes. We can’t stress how important rest is, not only for muscle growth, but also for your body’s general health and well-being. Muscle growth and repair takes place when your body is resting. If you don’t make time for your body to grow and recover, you’re only going to slow down your muscle building progress. Have at least one full days rest each week. Make it two days if your workouts are of a high intensity.
9. Your workouts suck
Are you doing the right thing when you’re in the gym? Make sure that you have a well-structured training plan, personalised to your fitness goals. Don’t waste your precious time wondering around the gym doing the wrong thing. If you are unsure then please just ask for help. Ask a member of your gym team to give you some advice or hire yourself a good personal trainer to get you all set up and heading in the right direction.
10. Not being patient
We saved the best until last. Building muscle takes time. If you are serious about building muscle then you need to realise that you are in this for the long haul! Building a big and strong physique can take years and years. Most of the fit-pros that you follow on social media, they have been lifting weights for many more years than you might expect. So stop changing your training approach every couple of weeks because your arms aren’t as big as Dwayne ‘The Rock’ Johnson’s yet. Stay consistent with your diet, make sure that you are getting those workouts in every week and the results will come. You just have to be patient.