5 Reasons You’re Not Gaining Muscle & How To Fix It

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Gaining muscle is important for our overall growth and if you’ve found yourself hitting a plateau, there may be some worthwhile changes needed for your routine to see that desired growth.

We all put ample effort into our workouts every time we hit the gym. Even on our off days, the mere fact we pulled ourselves through the doors and picked up a weight is a small victory especially given our busy schedules. At the end of the day we all want the same thing: that desired physique and noticeable gains.

But sometimes those gains seem to evade us, causing frustration and confusion as to just what is happening to our muscle-building goals. You show up to the gym, grab the big weights, perform your compound lifts and movements, and even hit the treadmill, but those gains just aren’t showing like they should. While effort is a big piece of this, there may be other factors you won’t even notice that are causing the lack of gains you desire most.

Let’s look into just how muscle is built and some reasons you aren’t seeing those desired muscle gains. The solutions are very manageable and with some quick changes, you will be well on your way to seeing your goals become reality.

How Muscle Is Built

When it comes to building muscle, it is important to understand just how it’s built in our bodies and what is required. Protein is the building block of all muscle and that is where branched chain amino acids (BCAAs) and essential amino acids (EAAs) come into play. As essential organic compounds that are the foundation of protein, these amino acids are required for muscle growth, since protein is the essential building block of muscle (1). With these, protein synthesis occurs allowing you to pack on more muscle for increased strength and size.

Recovery is crucial for muscle growth and while working out and lifting big is important, what that does is actually creates micro tears in the muscles. With proper post-workout stretching and fuel, like a protein supplement, your body can repair those tears to create bigger, more full muscles. Without this, unwanted pain and strain are caused leading to potential injuries and a decrease in muscle growth.

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5 Reasons You’re Not Gaining Muscle & Solutions

You Repeat The Same Moves & Same Weights

If you find yourself doing the same workout routine with the same exercise at the same weights, this monotony can really hurt your overall gains. Your muscles will become to used to the workout and work on autopilot having been through the same exercises over and over again. Your body starts to find ways to do less work because it already knows what exercise is coming.

How to fix it: Change up your routine! Look for fun, engaging, and challenging exercises that can really work your muscles differently. Also look into performing drop sets at the end of your workouts and adding more time under tension to work deeper muscle fibers.

high-intensity interval training

You Are Doing Too Much Cardio

Many people do too much cardio because the common message is to burn more calories for weight loss. While that is true, if your goal is to reduce body fat and increase lean muscle, then lifting weights properly and effectively can do just that.

How to fix it: Stop consistent long cardio sessions! Without proper fuel, these are starting to take muscle to be used as fuel hurting your overall gains. For those who want cardio without the downsides of it hurting your gains, add something like HIIT training a couple times of week to still see growth as well as increased endurance (2).

You Aren’t Consistent

Some days you go to the gym, other days you stay home, eat pizza, and watch football. Muscle growth requires consistency and the will to get yourself moving in order to keep a good streak alive. Some train every day but then at night abandon all their goals and take part in a regular binge cycle.

How to fix it: Get on a solid plan you enjoy! It will be so much easier to see weight loss and muscle growth when you are working with a plan that you enjoy. Instead of starving yourself during the day and binging at night, or just skipping out on a workout, work to find ways to get fit while also having fun.

You Aren’t Getting Enough Recovery

If your workouts are too aggressive back to back then you are hurting your overall goals by not getting enough recovery. That much needed recovery time is what allows your body to fully heal those micro tears as a result of lifting and without it, your lifts will suffer because your muscles never have time to heal. Sleep is vital as well and needs to be a priority in our busy schedules (3).

How to fix it: Focus on recovery! We all focus on lifting, but it is important to know that lifting causes these tears. While that is an important part of growth, for our bodies need something to heal, if we treated recovery like our lifts, then we would have time to heal and see that growth return.

You Aren’t Consuming Enough Protein

Protein is essential for muscles to grow and you may be really protein deficient if your gains are not showing. This doesn’t mean you have to be on a carnivore diet to see gains, but it does require you to be diligent about what kind of foods and how much protein you are giving your body.

How to fix it: Protein, protein, protein! Really look to enhance your protein goals by eating more lean meat, which is a great source of other nutrients as well or looking into a solid protein supplement which can elevate performance and recovery (4).

Check out our list of the Best Protein Supplements here!

Wrap Up

We all want to see huge gains for ourselves. We work hard, hit the gym, and lift as much as our busy schedules will allow. If you aren’t seeing the growth you want, then look into your routine or dietary plan and see if anything listed above matches you. If it does, do not fear, for there are solutions to all of those issues. You can change your muscle building problems and should know how because that hard work should show anytime, anywhere so you can be proud of your gains.

Let us know what you think in the comments below. Also, be sure to follow Generation Iron on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram. 

*Images courtesy Envato

References

  1. Blomstrand, Eva; Eliasson, Jorgen; Karlsson, Hakan K. R.; Kohnke, Rickard (2006). “Branched-chain amino acids activate key enzymes in protein synthesis after physical exercise”. (source)
  2. Laursen, Paul B.; Jenkins, David G. (2002). “The scientific basis for high-intensity interval training: optimising training programmes and maximising performance in highly trained endurance athletes”. (source)
  3. Dattilo, M.; Antunes, H. K. M.; Medeiros, A.; Neto, M. M.; Souza, H. S.; Tufik, S.; de Mello, M. T. (2011). “Sleep and muscle recovery: endocrinological and molecular basis for a new and promising hypothesis”. (source)
  4. Pasiakos, Stefan M.; McLellan, Tom M.; Lieberman, Harris R. (2015). “The effects of protein supplements on muscle mass, strength, and aerobic and anaerobic power in healthy adults: a systematic review”. (source)
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Austin Letorney is a writer, actor, and fitness enthusiast. As a former rower, he has shifted his focus to sharing his knowledge of the fitness world and strength sports with others.