You might be hitting the gym regularly and focusing on your eating and weight training, but the results lead you to ask yourself – “Why am I not gaining muscle?”

Don’t worry! It’s a common problem among gym-goers where you can’t gain muscle no matter what you do or how hard you try. Turns out that simply eating a lot of food or working out day and night doesn’t work. There are a few lies and myths floating around the fitness industry that will do more harm than good.

We will be debunking those myths and let you know exactly why you are unable to build muscle.

5 Common Reasons Why You Can’t Gain Muscle

There’s more to muscle building than just lifting weights and eating a lot. It’s all about progression – do your workout, come back the next week and beat your numbers. Repeat the process as you get stronger and stronger.

Here are the 5 most probable reasons why you’re having trouble gaining muscle.

1. You Are Not Tracking Your Lifts

Tracking lifts to progress in the gym and build muscles

Most people who workout don’t track what they do, and this is a big problem that will result in hampering their progress. Progressive overload is the number one driver for muscle growth! Remember the principle of progressive overload – in order to gain muscle, you need to make them gradually work harder. Overtime, your muscles will get stronger and completing your current set won’t stimulate them enough.

In order for them to grow bigger and stronger, you need to increase the load either by increasing the resistance or the number of reps you do. Now if you don’t track your lifts, you don’t know the amount of weight or sets needed to push yourself further, and you’ll plateau.

For optimal results, you need to increase the weight on the bar just a little bit each week, and soon you’ll start seeing incremental gains. Tracking your lifts hardly takes any time and will go a long way in your fitness journey.

2. You Are NOT Eating Enough

Eating above your TDEE is crucial for building muscles and strength

Your TDEE, or Total Daily Energy Expenditure is a measure of how many calories your body burns each day. Those extra calories can come from excess proteins, fats and carbs. Now if you don’t intake higher calories than your TDEE, your body lacks the surplus required to build muscle and you end up not gaining muscle mass.

We’re not talking about simply eating tons of food, that’ll only make you fat. Consuming the right food is extremely important. In order to achieve your desired muscle-building goals, you need to track your macronutrients to make sure you are getting the right macro balance.

Here’s a rough estimate – proteins and carbohydrates usually amount to 4 calories per gram, while fats have been assigned a value of 9 calories per gram. In order to gain muscle, you should aim for 1g of protein and 0.4g of fat per pound of body weight. The amount of calories remaining from the maintenance calories will be the carb requirement.

3. Not Resting Enough / Poor Sleep Quality

Sleeping is the most overlooked factor while trying to build lean muscle

A lot of the time people seem to neglect the importance of sleep. Getting plenty of rest is equally important as your training sessions. During your sleep, all the stimulation and nutrients you intake during the day are synthesized and result in muscle growth. The popular saying goes by stating the average person needs 7-9 hours of sleep per night.

Sleep relaxes your muscles, enhances recovery and gets them ready for your training session the next day. Not getting enough rest can hamper glycogen replenishment resulting in you not gaining muscle mass. Especially when you’re cutting, you’re at a greater risk of muscle loss if your sleep quality remains poor.

Not only that, poor sleep will directly affect your emotional state meaning poor energy and also poor attitude. It may also introduce factors in your lifestyle that prevent muscle growth such as aging, stress and depression. Needless to say, adequate sleep is something you should never neglect.

4. Prioritizing Weight Over Form

Ego lifting may be keeping your gaining muscle mass

If you’re someone who walks into a gym and starts training with unrealistic weights without focusing on form, you’re doing it wrong! Most novice and even some advanced lifters commit the same mistake of throwing large weights around instead of trying to achieve an aesthetic physique.

We mentioned that building muscle is all about progression. Slow down and focus on proper lifting technique. Learn how to target specific regions of muscle in your body. It’s your mind that is ultimately driving muscle growth, and training it to focus attention to the target muscle results in better quality muscle contraction and more muscle fibres being recruited. This is an essential aspect of mind-muscle connection (MMC).

Your muscles can be broadly classified into primary and secondary movers. The primary mover is responsible to do most of the work during lifting, and the secondary movers are there to support them. Not all of the primary movers are easy to work, and you need to learn how to isolate and target them. Nevertheless, in order to make serious gains, getting a strong MMC is something you have to do.

5. You’re Doing Too Much Cardio

Too much cardio can keep you from building muscles

Doing cardio is beneficial in the sense that it increases endorphins and the amount of oxygen in the blood. However, too much cardio can do more harm than good. Apart from burning the fat, it can burn your muscles which will lead to unbalanced metabolism and fat retention.

Improper attention to your energy balance can also be the reason you can’t build muscle. If you have an active lifestyle and you’re combining that with intense workout sessions and long bouts of cardio, your body is burning much more calories than the average person. The only to counteract this situation is by increasing the calorie intake so that your body actually has the intended surplus.

Once again, tracking your energy balance and progressively demanding more from your muscles is crucial. Try limiting your cardio or eating even more if you’re having trouble building muscle.

Frequently Asked Questions

There could be a number of reasons why you are not gaining muscle in the gym, including:

  • Not consuming enough calories or protein to support muscle growth
  • Not progressively increasing the load or intensity of your workouts
  • Not allowing adequate recovery time between workouts
  • Not following a consistent workout routine
  • Having an underlying medical condition that affects muscle growth
  • Using improper form during exercises, which can reduce the effectiveness of the workout
  • Not getting enough sleep, which is essential for muscle repair and recovery

To support muscle growth, it is important to consume enough calories and protein. Aim for a diet that includes a variety of high-protein foods, such as meat, poultry, fish, eggs, dairy products, beans, nuts, and seeds. In addition, try to consume a sufficient amount of carbohydrates to provide energy for your workouts and support muscle recovery. It may also be helpful to track your food intake using a food diary or a calorie-tracking app to ensure you are meeting your nutritional needs.

To increase the intensity of your workouts, try using heavier weights, performing more reps with a given weight, or increasing the number of sets you do. You can also try adding in new exercises or incorporating more challenging variations of exercises you already do. It is important to progressively increase the intensity of your workouts to continue challenging your muscles and promoting muscle growth.

It is important to allow adequate recovery time between workouts to allow your muscles to repair and rebuild. The specific amount of recovery time you need will depend on a number of factors, including the intensity and volume of your workouts, your age, and your overall fitness level. In general, it is recommended to allow at least 48 hours of recovery time between workouts for the same muscle group.

Following a consistent workout routine is important for a number of reasons. First, it helps to ensure that you are challenging your muscles consistently and making progress. Second, it can help to prevent overtraining, which can lead to muscle fatigue and reduced performance. Finally, a consistent routine helps you better track your progress on your fundamental exercises which is a clear marker of strength gain and thereby muscular hypertrophy.

It is possible that an underlying medical condition could be affecting your muscle growth. Some medical conditions, such as hormonal imbalances or certain medications, can interfere with muscle growth. If you are concerned that an underlying medical condition may be affecting your muscle growth, it is important to speak with a healthcare provider for further evaluation and guidance.

Using proper form during your exercises is important to ensure that you are getting the most out of your workouts and minimizing the risk of injury. To ensure proper form, it is helpful to focus on maintaining good posture, keeping your core engaged, and using a full range of motion for each exercise. It may also be helpful to seek guidance from a certified personal trainer or exercise professional to help you learn proper form for specific exercises.

End Note

Muscle building takes time, and sometimes the results may not show up as fast as you thought. It all ultimately boils down to three steps – stimulation, replenishment and rest. Focus on putting consistent efforts in the gym, maintaining a balance of the nutrients you take and giving yourself plenty of sleep to recover and grow.

Setting up weekly goals and adhering to your workout regime will force your body to grow and the eating will come with it. Remember to always eat above your maintenance and keep pushing yourself and the results will come naturally.

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