Why Am I Not Gaining Muscle? What Am I Doing Wrong?

You hit the gym at least 4 times a week.  You either get up an hour before you normally would so you can work out, or you skip happy hour with the gang to make sure you get your workout in. You are dedicated.

You have downloaded a workout that sounds good, and you don’t slack off when you go to the gym.

Y0u eat what you think you should be eating to gain the muscles that you’d like to have.

BUT, you’re just not seeing the results that you’d like to see.  What’s really maddening is your buddy who doesn’t seem to work out as much as you is looking pretty damn good, with arms bigger than yours and a chest that’s starting to stretch his shirt.

WHAT’S WRONG?

 

BASICS

Why do you think that you’re NOT packing on the muscle?  What can you do to remedy this situation?

What should you expect as a beginner when you first start weightlifting?

Unfortunately, when you first start lifting, unless you’re blessed with incredible genes, you’re only going to gain between 2 to 3 lbs of muscle each month.  As you get further along, you’ll probably only see 1 to 2 lbs of new muscle every month.  So, it takes a long time to gain an impressive amount of muscle mass.

Where to start?  Read these nine (9) ideas and see if any will help you.  One or two of them may be the reaso

 

ONE

KNOW YOUR BODY

That sounds obvious, but a lot of folks aren’t aware of what works for them and what doesn’t.  It’s a trial-and-error process that will help you learn how your body responds to different foods, different exercises, different supplements, different rest periods, etc.

You may try 3 days a week working out instead of 5.   You may need to get an hour’s more sleep every night.  You may need to include more protein in your diet. You may need to take Creatine as a supplement. You may ………..you get the idea.  Experiment on yourself to see if your body responds positively or negatively to changes that you make.

 

TWO

EAT MORE FOOD.

It may be as simple as that……why you’re not gaining muscle.

A lot of guys don’t understand that when you’re trying to gain muscle, it requires more food than when you’re not working hard to gain muscle.

This is especially true if you have a good metabolism and you don’t easily gain weight of any kind.  You need to take in more calories than you burn. Or, it might be impossible to build muscle because you aren’t getting the nutrients your body needs to build muscle.

You can lift until you’re blue in the face, but if you don’t have the nutrients and available calories, your resistance training will not result in more muscle mass.  Your body can’t grow without the extra calories.

Now, don’t up your food intake and calories without hitting the gym in a serious way and performing some hard workouts.  Otherwise, you’ll just get FAT.

There is a balance in how much increase you’ll need to gain muscle.  It may not be a lot more food than you’re currently eating, so play it by ear and see what gives you some gains without creating more fat.

This is possibly the problem with over half of the guys who are complaining about not being able to pack on the mass.  They’re just not getting the calories needed to gain muscle.

 

THREE

YOU’RE EATING THE WRONG FOOD.

It’s possible that you’re not eating enough protein.  You need 1.3 to 1.5 grams of protein per pound of body weight if you’re trying to gain muscle.  If you’re maintaining what you already have, you only need about 1.0 to 1.2 grams of protein per pound of body weight.

Here are some of the sources of protein you should be eating daily – dairy, beef, poultry, nuts, seeds, fish, and eggs.  Each of these contains different amino acids that your body needs to grow, so consume a variety of protein.

Eating a full spectrum of amino acids from different protein sources can greatly contribute to your muscle-building goals.

 

FOUR

YOU DON’T DRINK ENOUGH WATER

Yep, you’ve heard that so many times, about how important it is to drink lots of water, but when you’re trying to gain muscle mass, it’s even more important.

Keeping yourself hydrated should be a priority from the moment you get out of bed. Dehydration is a serious problem for folks wanting to gain muscle, not to mention everyone else who wants to be healthy.

You should be getting at least 60-90 oz. of water a day.  My trick, that I just mentioned in the last article,  is to drink sparkling water.  I can drink sparkling water all day, as opposed to having to drink flat water.  Try it.

 

FIVE

YOU DON’T TRAIN HARD ENOUGH

Photo by Tim Hipps, FMWRC Public Affairs

This was my problem for many years.  I thought that just showing up at the gym and going through the motions was all it took.  I was so proud of myself for just showing up and completing my workout.  But, it wasn’t enough to gain muscle.

I see a lot of guys at the gym going too light and not taking their workouts seriously. If you think curling those 15-pound dumbbells will do anything to make your biceps bigger, think again.

You’ve got to concentrate and lift with intensity and power.   Don’t do like I used to do and just go through the motions. Go hard and heavy enough to challenge your body beyond its normal capacity. That’s when muscles grow.

 

 

SIX

GET 7-8 HOURS OF SLEEP

It’s so important.  It’s when your muscles grow.  It’s not at the gym when your muscles, grow.  It’s when you sleep and rest.

One major hormone responsible for this change is human growth hormone (HGH). Our HGH levels are highest when we sleep. That’s one of the main reasons you need to get enough sleep – to give your body the time to grow and repair the damage you did at the gym.

 

 

SEVEN

YOU’VE BEEN DOING THE SAME ROUTINE TOO LONG

Both of these are major reasons your body stops growing.  Your body is amazing and has the ability to adapt and adjust to just about anything – including the stress you put on it at the gym.

After a month of doing the same exact routine, your body will adjust.  It will make the changes necessary to adjust to the stress from your workout.

Once your body adapts to your workout routine, it will not see the need to build more muscle or get stronger.

You’ll have to change. You’ll need to mix it up to create new and different stresses so your body will have to adjust and add more muscle to deal with the new stress from your modified or new routine.

 

EIGHT

YOU’RE DOING TOO MUCH CARDIO

If you’re not eating enough and doing too much cardio, you don’t have a chance of adding any muscle.

If you want to build mass and lose body fat at the same time, read this article.  I’m not saying don’t do any cardio, but your first priority should be resistance training. Feel free to add in a cardio session here or there—but not at the expense of your weight goals.

 

NINE

YOU’RE NOT DOING ENOUGH COMPOUND EXERCISES

This goes hand in hand with a well-designed workout routine. Doing the wrong exercises is a common mistake made by new guys who want to have biceps bulging out of their shirt. Usually, the new lifter is doing too many isolation exercises and not enough compound exercises.

To get a good outline of what compound exercises to concentrate on, read this article.  It’s a good overview of the compound exercises you should be doing.  Concentrate less on the bicep curls and more on the squats and deadlifts.

Doing compound exercises will do more to help you gain muscle and look good for the beach than all those single isolation exercises.

SUMMARY

Now you can see that there is not just one reason you’re not gaining the muscle that you want…..and it depends on your body, metabolism and current workout routine.

After you’ve read this article, decide which are the most obvious reasons you aren’t gaining the muscle you want, and change your life and workout routine to see if that works.  You may have to try several different things.

You must have patience because no one adjustment to your life and routine will result in instantaneous changes and big, new muscles.

If you’ve got comments, suggestions or feedback, please leave it below.  I welcome comments.

See you at the gym.

About "W" Tucker 49 Articles
I've been a fitness enthusiast for many years and want to encourage guys over 40 to get and stay in shape. It makes life better, and makes you look and feel better.

4 Comments

  1. Hi great blog. I never considered that building muscle may require to work out less times a week. I’m working out 5 times a week and not getting results. I think its because i”m tired all the time and its affecting my sleep. Do you suggest any supplements to get my energy levels back up?

    • Dave, right now I only take Creatine, and have a cup of coffee before I go to workout, but I used to take a pre-workout drink before I went to workout. Those pre-workout drinks will give you a jolt of energy.  Look into them  There are a lot on the market and I used several different brands, and all did the same – gave me energy for my workout. If you are tired all the time, it might be sleep and overtraining.  Experiment with that.  Sometimes, it takes experimenting to see what works best for you.  We’re all different, so what works for me may not work for you. Try more sleep if you’re not getting 7 hours.

  2. Love it! This a great list with great information! My number one question I ask people who are stuck and aren’t seeing the results they want is, “are you eating enough?” Food really is the answer… most of the time. I’ve had clients who want to put on so many pounds of muscle but do not commit in terms of food consumption. You really have to eat an abundance of food to really start to see your muscles grow, and eat the right foods. You hit it right on the head, sir! Thanks!

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