As a regular gym person, you may be doing all the “right” training techniques, and focus on them consistently. However, the problem is that you are not seeing any results. Why is this happening? If you are visiting the gym once in a while, and just want to keep your muscle tone, then you may not need to know some advanced terms, such as hypertrophy phase or pyramid training. However, if you are interested in why you can’t gain muscle no matter what you do, then you should keep reading.
In the following post, iFitzone team crafted a comprehensive article and guide to show you what steps you need to follow in order to consistently add muscle, mass, and strength in your workouts.
Reason 1: You're not aiming for hypertrophy
Your muscles only grow and increase their mass when you work out for muscle hypertrophy. This means that in order to gain enough muscle mass you should be lifting heavier weights and fewer reps. In terms of resistance training, muscle hypertrophy can only be achieved when skeletal muscle tissue enlarges. So, this may be one of the answers if you wonder why am I not gaining muscle.
Therefore, instead of working with lighter weights, you need to focus on heavier ones that are just enough to lift ten reps max. You can accomplish it by doing a pyramid workout: Take a weight that you can lift maximum of ten repetitions. Following the first set, increase the load and do eight reps, then add more and do six reps. Continue the sequence until you reach to 2 reps.
Reason 2: You're not working out to failure
When you’re doing resistance training, you should be focusing to train until failure. Of course, this does not mean that you should kill yourself in the first set. The aim is to reach failure in your last set, which you can get maximum benefits from your exercise. This is true for both men and women. In fact, if you choose the right weight, then the failure should be automatically coming between two and eight reps. If you are wondering why I’m getting stronger but not bigger, you should consider this advice.
Reason 3: You're not giving yourself enough time to recover
This is one of the reasons that people won’t build muscle no matter and hard they train. The latest traditional approach pushes and CrossFit trend pushes everyone to limit their rest periods between the workouts to minimal. Of course, by doing that you can develop lots of endurance. However, this is not so good if your goal is to gain muscle.
Therefore, to get your muscle fully recovered, you should wait for a minimum of 2 minutes between sets.
Reason 4: You're not exercising enough
As we have already mentioned above, giving yourself enough time to recover between the sets is crucial for muscle building. However, it is also important to know that many people cant build muscle simply because they don’t exercise frequently and often enough.
In fact, it is possible to safely hit one muscle group 2 times per week, by lifting 4 times. Go more intense than that and you’ll burn muscle instead of gaining. You can choose the following training regime for example: focus on your chest, shoulder, and triceps on Monday and Thursdays, and workout your legs on Tuesday and Friday. You are working out but not gaining weight because the volume of the exercise is just not enough.
This is especially better for 2 reasons: lifting frequently increases your lactic acid threshold (which means you will have more capacity during workouts without weighing down), and reduces DOMS (delayed onset muscle soreness).
Reason 5: You're not taking enough protein
If you are serious about weight lifting and gaining muscle mass, then 25-35 percent of your daily calories should be derived from your protein intake. This does not mean, however, that you should be wasting protein. In fact, excess protein consumption may lead to gastrointestinal distress and more frequent trips to the bathroom.
In general, it is quite possible to get all your protein needs from natural food sources. However, those who still want to go for supplements can use a combination of whey and casein protein. Consider that compared to food proteins, animal proteins tend to be more complete.
Reason 6: You don't get enough sleep
If you are working out 4 times per week, then you should also focus on 7-8 hours of quality sleep. Your muscles recover when you sleep. Therefore, you cant recover if you train too much and not pay attention to your sleep and nutrition. Neglecting sleeping may cause you to gain no muscle no matter how hard and technical you train. This may be the answer if you are wondering why am i not gaining muscle mass.
In fact, it can even possibly lead to muscle loss, which is the last thing you want.
Why You're Working Out But Not Getting Bigger?
Your diet is bad
We all understand that exercising combined with a healthy diet is an important factor. However, this does not mean that you should be ignoring some foods in order to maintain your calorie balance “clean”.
If you want to gain muscle, your focus should be to stay on a minimum of 15 percent calorie surplus. Having said that, do not ignore good carbs and fats, because doing so may lead your gains to get hampered.
You’re doing too much cardio
Doing too much cardio may prevent you from adapting to resistance training. In fact, excess cardio routine tends to shrink muscles and prevent muscle size and strength. iFitzone experts suggest you do 20-minute cardio sessions per week if you want to maintain and build muscle.
However, this does not mean that cardio is not good. Properly done regular cardio exercises can help you to improve your capacity to get recovered during resistance training and burn extra fat.
Your training volume is a problem
For those who are looking forward to building muscle mass, volume training is very crucial. However, the volume is also two-sided: do less and you won’t see any gain, do more and your muscles will break down. The important is to maintain the balance.
According to the research, the growth hormone and as well as testosterone levels increase during the first 30 minutes of resistance training.
However, after 60 minutes of workout, these hormone levels sharply fall when the body responds to overload and training by producing more cortisol concentrations.
The research found that hormone concentrations of testosterone and growth hormone rise during the first 30 minutes of training. However, after about 45 to 60 minutes, these levels drop sharply as stress builds up with a corresponding rise in cortisol concentrations.
Cortisol, in turn, is a stress hormone that can break down your muscle cells and make the development and regeneration process challenging. This may lead to overtraining, and failure to adapt. Therefore, we suggest you not to lift more than 4 times per week if your main goal is to develop muscle.
You’re not choosing a proper rep range
As we have already discussed before, and according to the widely researched and accepted approach, the weight that you choose to workout should be just enough for 8-10 reps.
By holding on to this zone you’re creating metabolic stress that makes the body secrete hormone concentrations and as well as mechanically overload which helps the muscle fibers to grow.
Why Are You Gaining Strength But Not Mass?
This is one of the most common questions among the bodybuilding community. In fact, there can be many reasons that can lead you to gain strength but not mass:
- You’re only doing up to 3 reps or less. This is a typical workout regime of powerlifters, which helps them to gain a lot of strength and power. However, for muscle hypertrophy, you need to work out around the 8-12 rep range. On the other hand, doing more than 12 will also limit your muscle growth, since it primarily focuses on the increase in endurance.
- There is a big gap between your workout days. In general, it is advised not to go more than 3 days without training. Of course, while you can still see gains when you train each muscle group less than once every 10 days or so, the development will be much more gradual.
- Your daily calorie intake is not enough to let you gain muscle. Keep in mind that if you’re serious about gaining muscle, then your body must stay in calorie surplus than a deficit.
Therefore, when you realize that you’re retaining your mass, while only gaining strength, consider taking in enough for your body which is required to needed to fuel hypertrophy gains.