Reasons Why You’re Not Gaining Muscle
Have you been working out to gain muscle and not getting any results? There are a few things you should know about the most effective ways to build muscle. But first, let’s look at the basics behind building muscle.
During a workout you’re putting strain on various muscles in your body. These muscles go through a cellular change where they’re put under stress and damaged. After the workout, your body repairs and rebuilds these damaged muscles, building them up and making them stronger.1
If you’re working out and not building up muscle there are some things you may need to focus on to improve your muscle growth. Keep reading to find out the reasons why you’re not gaining muscle and what you can do about it.
1. Not Eating Enough
Even when you’re working out correctly every day, if you’re not eating enough you won’t be able to gain lean muscle. When you’re trying to build muscle it’s important to keep your metabolism working. Metabolism is the process the cells in your body use to turn food into energy. When you’re working out, if you don’t eat small meals frequently throughout the day, your body will find other sources of fuel to burn, such as lean muscle and fat.2
Although most of your muscle building is going to take place in the gym, what you eat plays a role as well. Your body needs small amounts of lean protein with every meal to maintain and build muscle. The more you work out, the more protein you need.
Your body also needs carbohydrates for energy as you build muscles. Carbs provide your body with fuel for your brain and for muscle growth. If you don’t eat enough healthy carbs, your body will start to use protein for energy, taking away the fuel that’s required for building muscle.3
2. Lacking Testosterone
Testosterone is a male hormone that helps to build muscle mass in your body. As men get older, their testosterone levels start to decrease. These lower levels of testosterone may play a role in decreased muscle strength and volume, making it harder for you to build up muscle even when you’re working out.4
Research shows that increasing your testosterone levels may help to improve muscle strength, which can help you work out more and encourage muscle gain. Consider taking a supplement like Delta Prime by HexoFire Labs to support your testosterone levels.5
3. Excessive Cardio
Cardio exercise works your aerobic system and is a great way to improve your cardiovascular function. Doing cardio exercises uses up a lot of calories and will help you lose fat and weight. But when you’re trying to build muscle, too much cardio will throw your body into what’s know as a “catabolic state”, where it starts to use the muscle you’ve gained as fuel.6
When you start to lose muscle, you’ll also lose strength as well as slow down your body’s metabolism, both of which are needed to help you gain muscle. To prevent muscle loss, limit your cardio to 2-3 workouts per week.
4. You’re Not Consistent Enough
One of the most important factors to gaining muscle is to be consistent in your training. This includes consistency in your workouts, your nutrition, and making sure you get enough rest each day, so your muscles have time to rebuild and repair. Consider keeping a daily workout diary to keep track of your workouts and the foods you’re eating. Schedule time in your day to do your workouts and stay on track.
5. You Haven’t Been Working Out Long Enough
When you’re going to the gym to build up your muscle mass, aim for 30 – 60 minute workouts, including a warm up at the beginning and cool down at the end. Any less than 30 minutes and you won’t be doing enough reps for each of the muscle groups. Any more than 60 minutes and your recovery time from one workout to the next will be insufficient for your body to rebuild and repair muscles.
If you’re consistent with your workouts, you should start to see results in muscle gain in 4 to 6 weeks.
6. You’re Not Getting Enough Rest and Sleep
In order for your muscles to repair and grow, you need to be getting enough rest and sleep. Lack of sleep can increase cortisol levels, a stress hormone, and decrease testosterone levels in your body. Studies show that not getting enough sleep can lead to a loss of muscle mass as well as inhibit muscle recovery after your workouts.7
7. You’ve Hit a Plateau
If you perform the same exercises every time you work out, your body may hit a plateau where it’s gotten used to the same muscles being conditioned while others are ignored. To generate continued muscle gain it’s important to change your routine and the variety of exercises you do. Consider modifying your routine every 4 to 6 weeks to boost your muscle growth and keep your body from reaching a plateau.
8. You’re Doing Too Many Reps
You may think that doing 12 to 18 reps for each exercise is going to build up more muscle and strength, however this may be keeping you from gaining muscle.
What you should be doing is increasing the weights you’re using and lowering the number of reps you perform to about 6 to 12. Research indicates that doing fewer reps and increasing the intensity of weight is more beneficial for increasing muscular strength.8
Final Thoughts on Why You’re Not Gaining Muscle
Following the guidelines in this article may help you understand the reasons why you’re not gaining muscle. Focus on your nutrition, training, and your recovery time to help you gain muscle mass. As well, determine what exercises best target those areas of your body where you want to build up muscle. With consistency and the techniques listed here, you’ll soon notice a significant improvement in muscle gain.
1. Pearson, AM. (1990). Muscle growth and exercise. Crit Rev Food Sci Nutr. 29(3): 167-96. Retrieved on December 26, 2018 from https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/2222798
2. Tipton, KD. & Wolfe, RR. (2001). Exercise, protein metabolism, and muscle growth. Int J Sport Nutr Exerc Metab. 11(1): 109-32. Retrieved on December 26, 2018 from https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/11255140
3. Jequier, E. (1994). Carbohydrates as a source of energy. Am J Clin Nutr. 59(3 Suppl): 682S-685S. Retrieved on December 26, 2018 from https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/8116550
4. Tsujimura, A. (2013). The Relationship between Testosterone Deficiency and Men’s Health. World J Mens Health. 31(2): 126.135. Retrieved on December 26, 2018 from https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3770847/
5. Stanworth, R. & Hugh-Jones, J. (2008). Testosterone for the aging male; current evidence and recommended practice. Clin Interv Aging. 3(1): 25-44. Retrieved on December 26, 2018 from https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2544367/
6. Wray, CJ. & Mammen, JM. (2002). Catabolic response to stress and potential benefits of nutrition support. Nutrition. 18(11-12): 97 1-7. Retrieved on December 26, 2018 from https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/12431720
7. Dattilo. M. & Antunes, HK. (2011). Sleep and muscle recovery: endocrinological and molecular basis for a new and promising hypothesis. Med Hypotheses. 77(2): 220-2. Retrieved on December 26, 2018 from https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/21550729
8. Mangine, GT. & Hoffman, JR. (2015). The effect of training volume and intensity on improvements in muscular strength and size in resistance-trained men. Physiol Rep. 3(8): e12472. Retrieved on December 26, 2018 from https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4562558/