Building Muscle – 10 Reasons why it isn’t happening
We have all been there. Slogging away for months at the gym and seeing very little progress, or maybe you have hit a plateau and are struggling to see any more results. Building muscle is a difficult process and should never be considered an easy task (if it was easy we would all be huge).
WARNING: This post contains the gym going terms such as “bro”, “gainz” and “beastmode”. When you read them just shake you head slowly and tut under your breath.
Building muscle happens when your muscles are worked against a resistance and damaged (in a good way). Your body will repair these ‘damaged’ muscle fibres, with increased thickness. Therefore the magical process of bigger muscles occur. To keep it simple: Lift weights = bigger muscles
1. You aren’t eating enough
Putting yourself in a calorie surplus (more food than you need to maintain a weight) is key to optimising the building of muscle. I’m not talking about just stuffing your face with endless takeaways every weekend, I’m talking about consistently consuming high calories. This will enable your body to generate new muscle tissue, (along with some inevitable) body fat and also will give you the fuel you need for a big workout. This one is important!
2. Progressive overload
If your workouts aren’t getting harder, or you aren’t getting stronger then the chances are you aren’t making progress. Progressive overload is one of the basic principles in training and should always be considered when planning a program. Working with a personal trainer will ensure you program is designed with this in mind. If I lifted 10 kg 2 years ago and I’m still lifting 10 kg now, my muscles aren’t put under any new stresses and they will not grow. By changing variables such as weight, reps, sets, rest times and training frequency, the intensity of a workout can be changed as needed.
3. You are relying on supplements
If you are looking for the silver bullet then give up now. Supplements that will provide you with any substantial benefit are more than likely illegal. There are very few supplements that have managed to provide any statistical significance in studies. For any advice on supplements head over to www.examine.com, where you can find links to studies and whether it’s worth spending your hard earned cash (the chances are it’s a no!).
Patient is a virtue young one. Building muscle is a slow and deliberate process. No one has ever accidentally become ‘too big’. If you think you are going to gain 20 lbs of muscle in a year, think again. You will be lucky to ever gain 20 lbs of muscle. I’m not trying to put you off ever trying, but being realistic in what you can achieve will help manage expectations and boost motivation down the line, especially as a natural athlete (see point 9).
5. Looking for the 1% but forgetting the other 99%
“This new pre-workout Jacked 4000 is sick bro, I’m going to get huge!”
“My new lifting straps are amazing, I will be surprised if I don’t gain 2 Kg of muscle just by taking them out of the packet”
“If I carry out this 1000 rep drop set I’ve seen on YouTube, I’m going to get some serious gainz”
Don’t become so fixated on the minor details and lose sight on the bigger picture. The small gimmicks and ‘tricks’ will come and go, but the basics have remained very similar for years (and that because they work!)
You wont see results from carrying out 1000 different things once. You will get results from carrying out the 1 thing 1000 times. After your first week training in the gym, don’t get up early like its Christmas day thinking Santa has brought you some massive biceps….you will be disappointed. Nail the basics time and time again, the results will follow.
7. You haven’t changed anything in months
Albert Einstein – “The definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over again, but expecting different results”
If you have been doing the same chest workout for the last 2 years, expect to the same chest you had 2 years ago. Your body adapts to exercises and routine very quickly, by introducing a new stimulus you will be introducing a new opportunity to overcome that (building muscle)
8. All or nothing
You have gone from training every now and then to “smashing the gym up in beast mode bro” 6 times a week. This is unsustainable and will not be maintained for long. Eventually you will reduce this sessions and more than likely just give up and stop training all together. Start with a moderate 3-4 times a week and increase ONLY when you have stopped seeing results.
9. You are natural
I don’t want to call everyone a roid head that’s bigger/more ripped than me (though its probably true), though being realistic about what can be achieved naturally is a lot different to what you see in the magazines. A lot of these ‘natural’ fitness models/sponsored athletes are about as natural as Lance Armstrong.
No matter what your favourite bodybuilders supplement company says, you will not gain X lbs of muscle in X number of weeks (only if you buy their stuff), they are talking out of their arse.
Initially you will put on a large amount of muscle, but after a few years training experience the gains soon begin to diminish. Dont give up, just keep pushing and refer to point 4.
10. Personalised Plan
Just because ‘big Gary’ down the gym is doing a certain workout and diet, doesn’t mean you should. You do not have Gary’s genetics, muscle fibres, job, lifestyle or history. No offence Gary, but your plan isn’t for me! Each program should be tailored to individuals. At first this may take some trial and error but eventually should be honed down to what works best for you.
If you need assistance with gaining muscle, losing body fat or getting fitter then fill in the form for a free consultation.
Chris Dack (DackAttack)
The brains, brawn and beauty of Dackattack (basically it’s just me). A personal trainer with a private gym in Norwich, dedicated to giving out simple, actionable advice that will give you outstanding results.