It can be really frustrating when you’re working hard in the gym but not seeing the results you want. So what’s going wrong? For the most part, people go to the gym to bulk up and tone down. While you may have done your homework and reviewed numerous workout videos online, many people still make a number of typical errors that can impede progress and slow down their gains.
Here are nine possible reasons you’re not gaining muscle.
1. You’re Not Eating Enough Protein
Protein is essential for building muscle, so if you’re not getting enough then you’re not going to see any gains. Needless to say, one of the most important factors in gaining muscle is getting enough protein in your diet. Protein provides the building blocks for muscle growth, so if you’re not eating enough, you’re not going to see results. The recommended daily intake for protein is around 0.8 grams per kilogram of body weight, but depending on your activity level and goals, you may need more than that. If your goal is gaining muscle mass then you should shoot for around 0.7g/lb of bodyweight or 1.5g/kg daily at minimum. You won’t see any noticeable changes in strength if you don’t eat enough protein because doing so will create something known as a catabolic state where there are no available amino acids for your body to utilize towards recovery and growth purposes – this will lead to loss of lean tissue rather than gain
Make sure you’re including plenty of high-quality protein sources in your diet such as lean meats, eggs, dairy products, legumes and nuts.
If you’re trying to gain muscle, you need to be especially careful about your protein intake. Not only do you need to eat enough protein each day, but you also need to make sure that you’re getting the right kind of protein. Animal-based proteins such as meat, eggs and dairy products are considered “complete” proteins, meaning they provide all the essential amino acids your body needs to build muscle. Plant-based proteins such as legumes, nuts and seeds are not complete proteins, but if you eat a variety of plant-based foods throughout the day, you should be able to get all the amino acids your body needs.
2. You’re Not Eating Enough Calories
Alongside getting enough protein, you also need to make sure that you are getting the right amount of calories in your diet. If you are undereating then it will be difficult for you to build muscle because all your body’s energy is being used up by vital processes rather than growth. Conversely, if you are overeating then you will put on weight and not see the results you want.
There is no one-size-fits-all answer to how many calories you need each day, as this will vary depending on your height, weight, age and activity levels. However, a good starting point is to aim for around 2,000 calories per day if you are trying to gain muscle. You can then adjust this number up or down depending on your results.
If you are not sure how many calories you are currently eating, then it may be a good idea to start tracking your food intake using a food journal or app. This will allow you to see where you are going wrong and allow you to make adjustments.
It is also worth remembering that the number of calories in one food will vary depending on your portion size, so while two pieces of bread might contain around 100 calories each, only eating one slice will still mean that you come in under your daily calorie target. You can use an online calorie calculator to get an idea of how many calories are in different foods.
If you are unsure of where to start with your diet then it may be worth hiring a nutrition or personal trainer who can design a plan for you that will help you efficiently build muscle and improve your results.
3. You’re Doing Too Much Cardio
If you do too much cardio, you might be losing muscle that you otherwise gained from other forms of exercise. As a result, you may experience excessive muscular soreness in areas that aren’t involved in your routine.
If you have too much cardio in your workout routine then this can mean that there isn’t enough energy left in your body for building muscle after a tough gym session. Instead of doing too much cardio try adding extra resistance exercises into each workout or stick to doing no more than 30 minutes per day (preferably less).
Excessive cardio can lead to overtraining, which means that you’re not giving your body enough time to recover and replenish itself. You might experience insomnia, headaches and a decline in performance at the gym. If you exercise excessively, glycogen stores run out and catabolism occurs, which means that your body starts to break down muscle.
You should treat an excessive amount of cardio as you would any other form of overtraining. This means that you should cut back on the frequency and intensity of aerobic workouts until your body no longer experiences excessive fatigue after your routine.
4. You’re Not Getting Enough Rest
If you really want to build muscle then you need to make sure that you are resting your body long enough in between training sessions. Aim for at least 8 hours each night, but if you can manage more like 9 or 10 then it will be even better for your recovery.
One of the best things you can do to make sure you are getting enough rest is to set a regular sleep schedule. This means going to bed and waking up at the same time each day, even on weekends. This will help your body get into a rhythm and make it easier for you to fall asleep.
Another thing to keep in mind is that your bedroom should be a place for rest and relaxation. Make sure it is dark, quiet, and cool so that you can get the most out of your sleep. If there are any distractions or things that are keeping you from sleeping well, then try to address them as best as you can.
In 2011, researchers investigated the effects of sleep deprivation on muscular gains and recovery.Individuals who followed a strict sleep regimen for 72 hours were the subjects of this research. One group was allowed 5.5 hours of sleep, while another was given 8.5 hours each day during this time period. All participants ate a calorie-controlled diet.
Researchers discovered that those who slept for 5.5 hours had 60 percent less muscle mass at the conclusion of the study, whereas those who slept for 8.5 hours had 40% more. Thus, we can see the significant role that sleep plays in the recovery and development of muscles.
5. Your Motivation Isn’t High Enough
Having the drive to go to the gym and get through tough workouts is essential when trying to gain muscle because if you don’t feel like working out then it will be difficult for your muscles to grow properly. Motivation is essential when it comes to working out. If you can’t find any motivation, it will be difficult for you to work hard enough for your muscles to grow.
Try finding some new ways of motivating yourself, whether this means listening to some tunes before every session. Another way that may work for some people is by setting goals or rewards that are motivating enough that they will want to work out.
If you can find a way to be consistent with your workouts, you will be able to see better results and will feel motivated enough too. This may mean going to the gym at the same time every day or working out for a certain number of days each week. Consistency is key when it comes to gaining muscle mass.
6. You’re Not Working Out Hard Enough
If you want to see results, you need to put in the effort in the gym. If you’re not challenging yourself with heavy weights and high-intensity workouts, then you’re not going to see any changes.
In other words, if you want to gain muscle and strength, you must lift heavy. Lifting heavy has several advantages. Heavy lifting puts the muscles to the test not only concentrically but also eccentrically. If done properly, this type of stimulus will result in greater muscular tearing and repair.
This implies that you shouldn’t be doing sets of 10-15 repetitions on every set. High-rep sets are valuable in certain cases but don’t be scared to do 5-rep sets for multi-joint exercises like squats and bench presses, as well as deadlifts. You’ll be able to use more weight, which equals more pure strength. And as you get better, your new strength will allow you to lift heavier weights for longer periods of time.
7. You’re Doing The Wrong Exercises.
Not all exercises are created equal – some are better than others when it comes to gaining muscle.
One great example is the barbell curl, as opposed to doing dumbbell curls. Not only will you be able to lift more weight on a barbell (which equals more overload and therefore greater gains), but you’ll also engage several muscles including biceps brachii, brachialis, and coracobrachialis.
As for other exercises, make sure that you’re choosing multi-joint lifts like squats, deadlifts or bench presses rather than single joint isolation ones like hamstring curls if your goal is pure strength and power. Another modification would be the use of periodization with maximal effort movements such as using 80% of 1RM during weeks 1-4, 90% during weeks 5-8, and 100% during weeks 9-12.
8. You’re Not Eating Enough Carbs Or Fat
Carbs and fat are both important nutrients when gaining muscle as they give us energy we need to fuel our workouts. If you don’t eat enough carbohydrates then your body will burn through your protein stores to get the fuel it needs. And if you don’t eat enough fat then you can develop a deficiency which can have an impact on your hormone levels, making it harder for you to gain muscle.
So how do you work out what the right balance of carbs and fat is for you? Well, if you’re ever seen the great film ‘Fight Club’, then it should be no secret that you need to consider your Basal Metabolic Rate to calculate this. Your Basal Metabolic Rate (BMR) is the number of calories your body burns at rest and is determined by a variety of factors, including your weight, age and activity level.
Once you know your BMR you can then calculate how many calories you need to eat per day in order to gain muscle. To do this, simply multiply your BMR by the number of days you want to bulk for (e.g. if you want to bulk for 10 days then multiply your BMR by 10) and then divide this number by 3,500 (the number of calories in a pound). This will give you the amount of calories you need to eat each day when bulking.
For example, if you weigh 150 pounds and workout 3 days per week then your BMR is around 2,100 calories. If you want to bulk for 10 days then multiply this by 10 which would give you a total of 20,000 (10 x 2100). You then divide this by 3,500 which gives you 6.4 which means you need to eat approximately 6,400 calories per day when bulking.
Once you’ve done this then all that is left to do is work out the percentage split between carbs and fat based on your own personal preference.
9. You’re Not Drinking Enough Water
Drinking enough water is essential for avoiding fatigue and maintaining energy levels throughout the day. So make sure that you drink plenty of liquids- around 1 liter of water per hour of intense training (so around 8 glasses per day). Drinking enough water will help you train harder in the gym, so make sure you keep some with you at all times!
But if you’re looking for an extra edge, consider supplementing your water intake with a sports drink. Sports drinks are loaded with electrolytes, which can help you stay hydrated and energized during your workout. They also contain carbohydrates and protein, which can help refuel your muscles after a strenuous training session.
So if you’re looking for an edge in your next workout, make sure to drink plenty of water and supplement with a sports drink. You’ll be amazed at how much harder you can train when you’re well hydrated!
If you’re not seeing the gains that you want in the gym then take a look at these possible reasons and see if any of them could be holding you back. By addressing any issues that you find and making some simple changes to your diet and workout routine, you should start to see results before long
It’s possible that there are other reasons why you’re not gaining muscle, but these are some of the most common ones. If you’re struggling to see results, then you may also need to take a look at your diet and training routine and make changes where necessary. Remember, Rome wasn’t built in a day- it takes time and dedication to see results in the gym. So don’t get discouraged and keep working hard!
I hope this article was helpful. If you have any questions, feel free to ask in the comments section below. Thanks for reading!
Rahul is a sports and performance consultant. Over the course of his 15-year career in the fitness sector, he has held positions as a strength and conditioning instructor, gym owner, and consultant.
He is deeply committed to assisting people in finding happiness and feeling good about themselves.
Rahul has a master’s degree in exercise science and is a certified NSCA CSCS and CISSN.