3 Reasons why you’re not building muscle!
Building muscle is a key goal for a LOT of athletes and average gym goers-you’re reading this, so I’m sure it’s up there on your list too. Such a common goal, you’d think we had it figured out. Work out, build muscle. That simple. Why then, do so many of us struggle to build muscle? Why do so many people spend years training, with very little progress to show for it? The answer probably lies within one (or more!) of the following reasons.
#1- You need to train better!
Yep, may as well get this one out of the way first. The first thing I’d urge everyone to do is step up your training. Now, I don’t just mean in terms of an actual quantified response (more days in the gym, more time per session, etc). What I’m getting at is an improved focus, intensity and execution of the session. Train harder. Sure, you’re probably following a decent plan (this can be simple as hell and still work), but can you get more out of the session? 3x 1 hour in the gym with your full focus and intensity, attacking each set with perfect execution, will probably do a hell of a lot more for your muscle gains than 5 half ass sessions where you’re swinging your weights (or ****) around with no real intent. Get in, attack the session, keep your form, work hard as hell, and tell your body to build muscle.
Want to improve your workouts, take a look at the exercise execution post here!
#2- You need to eat ENOUGH (but not too much!).
To build muscle, you need plenty of energy. You’re body not only needs to fuel the intense workouts, but it also needs to recover to the point that it’s actually able to build new tissue. This costs energy. Simply put, get enough food, including high quality nutrients and protein at a reasonable frequency to allow your body to do the job of laying down some new tissue. We need to be in a SURPLUS of calories- said another way- we need to eat too much!
BUT here’s the problem with this way of putting it. We accept we’re eating too much. We accept we’re going to build muscle and gain bodyfat. Is that an issue? Not really, fat is far easier to get rid of in healthy individuals than muscle is to build, so the trade makes sense. But let’s reframe it.
What if rather than eating too much, we start to view this as eating enough. Just enough to fuel the workout AND enough the fuel the costly development of tissue. It’s more like an upper end of maintenance, when we account for the fact we’re looking to build muscle. Take in AS MUCH ENERGY AS WE NEED CONSIDERING THE GOALS, AND NOT MORE! Sure, we’ll overshoot this sometimes, and gain some fat, but we’re not writing it off with the excess fat gain that leads people to stop their muscle gain phase way too early, meaning we can spend longer building muscle every time, meaning we’re not going through 6 bulk and cuts a year and getting nowhere, we may do one, feel in ok shae throughout, and make real, solid, sustainable progress.
#3- You need to slow down!
Building muscle takes more than just enough nutrients. It requires your body to signal that more muscle is needed (through point #1- focused training), followed by a cascade of “recovery” processes involving molecular signalling, hormones, complex feedback loops, and a host of complex reactions and processes that lead to tiny adjustments in tissue that ultimately lead to new muscle being added. Sure, we need enough high quality protein and nutrition in our diet to allow this, but we also need to actually allow the body to focus on the recovery processes at times too. Minimise stress, sleep well, relax, switch off, and slow down! Give your body the opportunity it needs to recover, not just through diet, but also through actual recovery (as in the opposite of breaking it down!). Here’s where the muscle growth actually occurs, so don’t neglect it!
Want to know more? Contact us with any questions and I’ll help you to move forward!
Josh Kennedy, MSc, ASCC, CSCS