10 Reasons You're Not Building Muscle and What To Do About IT

Whether you’re a husky person or string bean in shape, packing on muscle requires consistency, hard work and smart training. And when you’re not scoring any gains, there are typically numerous reasons to explain this.  Following are 10 of those reasons, so athletes and personal trainers, take note:


If you’re eating like a bird, packing on muscle will be pretty much impossible. For many gym goers, ingesting the right amount (and quality) of calories is usually the solution for getting bigger and stronger.  The human body requires a certain number of calories to maintain weight: the basal metabolic rate (BMR), and its different from one person to the next, depending on gender, bodyweight, muscle mass, fitness level, age, genetics, etc.  Fewer calories than your BMR create a calorie deficit, which can lead to weight loss, even muscle loss.  More calories than the BMR is a surplus, which can lead to fat and/or muscle gain.  Trainees wanting more muscle must consume a surplus of quality calories: at least 20 calories per pound of bodyweight. Ideal foods include organic meats/poultry, wild caught fish, eggs, whole grains, whole potatoes/yams, apples, berries, bananas, and green salads with a natural dressing.


Excess cardio can create a catabolic (muscle breakdown) environment, counteracting muscle gain attempts. Note the build of sprinters vs. marathon runners.


Spending many hours in the gym leads to diminishing returns. In fact, pushing yourself hard will lead to a tougher time recovering between workouts while inciting the release of stress hormones like cortisol, which interfere with hypertrophy. Intense and focused work is the key. The general rule is that intense sessions should not exceed one hour. Each muscle group needs no more than three to four sets of three exercises to stimulate hypertrophy.


Adequate rest is as important as the training itself. Muscle growth does not happen in the gym, but during recovery and sleep. Hard workouts should be spaced out smartly. Although you may not feel it, your body needs days of ample rest to recuperate from hard training sessions.  Shoot for at least eight hours of high quality and uninterrupted sleep overnight-a key to creating an optimal hormonal environment for muscle growth and recovery. Proper nutrition is also crucial. Training days should have more quality protein and complex carbohydrates, and plenty of water every day is critical.


One way you could be shooting yourself in the foot with weight training is bad form. Correct form helps a trainee get the maximum bucks out of every session by working the targeted muscle group and minimizing stress on the joints.

1. Make sure that you’re breathing properly throughout the movement. Holding your breath is detrimental. Inhale before the lift, then exhale during the lift, then inhale upon the release.  2. Never bend at the waist; always bend at hips and knees.  3. Keep core muscles tight with every move to help strengthen this area and minimize injuries.


When training lacks intensity, plateaus are bound to follow. Pushing hard is what will build muscles.


Also known as multi-joint exercises, moves such as the bench press, squat, and deadlifts engage multiple large muscle groups and also enable you to lift a lot of weight. Anabolic hormones are more easily released with compound exercises than with isolation movements.


If you’ve been struggling with the same routine for the past six months, then a new approach is warranted, even if others have reaped impressive gains from the same routine. A stagnation point will create frustration and boredom.


A training journal helps gauge progress-or lack thereof-so that the right decision can be made, whether it’s related to exercise routine, diet or any other relevant factor like sleep.  Training logs will reveal darker aspects of one’s training and nutrition, and will reflect back on how an injury or rut occurred.


Consistency and muscle growth go hand in hand. Even the best approach will fail without consistency. Hypertrophy will happen only with consistent workouts. The type of goals you set can have a great impact on your motivation and following through with commitment. Don’t have an aimless approach to training; be very goal and commitment oriented.

Written by: On Fitness Magazine