10 Reasons You Aren't Seeing Muscle Gains

why aren't i gaining muscle

reasons not getting muscle gainz
It can be frustrating to workout and not see the muscle you're looking for!
A lot of people get off to great starts in their workout regimen, but a month or two later find that their progress has flat-lined. Whether your goal is to improve muscle mass, definition, strength, power, or endurance, you need to follow a comprehensive health, fitness, and nutrition program to make continuous progress. See if you've fallen into some of these pitfalls and how to correct them to dig yourself out of your rut and start looking lean and mean again:

1) You've Been Doing The Same Workout Since High School

This could be the number one reason you aren't seeing muscle gains. To put it in more universal terms, you have been doing the same workout for over 4-8 weeks, or much much longer and your body has reached a point of adaptation. That means that the same workout stimulus you place on your body isn't sufficient enough to cause new adaptations such as increases in muscle mass or reduction in bodyfat. You need to make changes in your workout by manipulating variables such as exercise selection, modality, grip, angle, weight, repetition range, speed, volume, frequency, and pretty much anything else you can think of. Switch up your workouts and unlock to more gains!

2) You Aren't Getting Enough Sleep or Rest

This is an often overlooked reason why your muscle isn't improving. Working out is very healthy but it does tax the body, and you may need extra sleep to make up for it. This is especially true when trying to increase muscle mass. You may also not be resting enough in ways other than sleep. You might be working 14 hour days and/or 6-7 day weeks, and all that stress and cortisol overload can minimize muscle gains too, no matter how much you're sleeping. Also, you might not be resting specific muscle groups enough. For example, if you work chest really intensely one day, you may need 3-5 days or more to recover before you work the chest hard again, for maximum recovery / muscle hypertrophy. If you're having trouble sleeping it could be due to too much caffeine, too much eating before bed, or anxiety and it may be worthwhile to speak to a medical professional for additional guidance.

3) You're Doing Too Much Cardio

Cardiovascular exercise is great and all, but there are healthy ranges for cardio depending on your goals. Doing cardio too long, intensely, or frequently can seriously inhibit muscular strength, size, and recovery. Usually this means doing 5-6+ days of cardio, or over 1 hour per cardio session. I know you want to train like Rocky Balboa, but these types of workouts are best for cutting weight and not maximizing strength and size. But if you are a hardgainer or very lean to start with, even doing more than 3-4 days of cardio per week may have a negative effect on your muscle size. You may also lose a significant amount of leg strength, power, or size if you are doing intense cardio that mostly uses your legs. So overall, I'm not saying to skip the cardio, but perhaps modify it with less frequency or time and increase the high intensity intervals a bit instead.

4) You Aren't Eating Right

This is often the biggest culprit. You need to think of food as fuel for your body instead of just something you need to stay alive, or just something that tastes good. You don't put regular gasoline in a Ferrari, so why would you put a bunch of junk food in your body and expect it to look and peform its best?! Doesn't make sense right. So if you want plenty of energy in your workout, optimal recovery, maximum muscle mass, and reduced body fat you are going to need performance nutrition. That means complex carbohydrates, lots of fiber, tons of veggies, some fruit (depending on your goals), lean proteins, antioxidants, and heart healthy fats!  In some instances, you may even benefit from some nutritional supplements in the protein, amino acid, vitamin, mineral, caffeine, antioxidant, or Omega-3 fatty acid department.

5) You Aren't Working Out Enough

On the flip side, sometimes you may not be working out enough! That could mean a few things. You may not be working out enough to reduce your bodyfat (see next reason below). You may not be taxing specific muscle groups with your workouts enough to cause growth as an adaptation. And you might think working out 3 times a week for 30 minutes is sufficient to reach your goals (sorry but that probably isn't gonna cut it). Even if you are going for sheer muscle mass and are a hardgainer, you'll still need to workout at least 4 times a week most likely. I know it may seem confusing trying to walk the fine line between not working out enough and working out too much, but it is different for everyone and you usually have to find it through trial and error.

6) You Need To Reduce Your Bodyfat

There might be another major reason why you aren't seeing improvements in your musculature. There may just be a large layer of fat covering that muscle you are working so hard to build. This adipose tissue is stored energy that must be burnt off by movement and increases in metabolism. Also, the less extra calories you consume, the less calories will be stored as bodyfat. There's no way around it, you do need to eat and workout properly to minimize that bodyfat if you want to see the aesthetics of your hard work in the gym. Most of you have a six pack, but many of them are covered by extra bodyfat that has to be removed slowly but surely.

7)You Have No Battle Plan When You Go To Workout

If you go to the gym and don't know exactly what you are trying to achieve, you are setting yourself up to fail or at least limit your progress. The quote "fail to plan, plan to fail" sums it up. If you show up at the gym or to a workout without a clear plan and goals, you're just going to be treading water. If you don't know how you are going to fatigue the hell out of your target muscle groups and/or cardiovascular system, you will not get the boost in muscle mass or metabolism. Even if you've been working out for years and train more instinctively, you could still benefit from writing down some more specific goals, numbers, and new exercises to try out to keep your workouts fresh.

why not gaining muscle mass hardgainer
This guy might be jacked, but you're gonna need a more
comprehensive workout strategy than this to make gains!

8) Your Workout Technique Is Incorrect

This is very common in a lot of beginners and even intermediate fitness enthusiasts. They are limiting themselves because they use knowingly use poor lifting technique, don't know the proper lifting technique, don't understand how to train efficiently on cardio, or end up hurting themselves. Sometimes, their poor workout techniques, or lack thereof, will lead to stagnancy or even mental burnout. Learn the proper lifting techniques by hiring a certified trainer, asking a qualified fitness professional at your gym, asking for feedback from a knowledgeable spotter, or just researching it for yourself. There are plenty of great free workout demonstration videos out there, just make sure you find a reputable example to follow. Master proper lifting and workout techniques, and the muscle gains will soon follow!

9) You Aren't Making Workouts & Healthy Lifestyle a Top Priority

Maybe you aren't giving your workouts the 100% effort they need. Maybe you go to the gym more to socialize or flex in front of the mirror. Maybe you're working out at the end of the day when you're draining physically and your workouts suffer. Maybe you work hard all week and shoot yourself in the foot by going out partying, drinking, staying out late, and eating junk food all weekend. If you fit into any of these categories or find yourself in a similar situation, you need to reassess your priorities. You need to make fitness a lifestyle and minimize or cut out activities and behaviors that will limit your results such as gaining muscle.

10) You Need To Educate Yourself More On Health, Fitness, & Nutrition

This one is huge, and it is something everyone can benefit from regardless of experience. The more you learn about your own body and all subjects related to it, the more weapons you have in your arsenal to improve your body's performance and physique. Constantly read, research, and practice new recipes, workouts, exercises, and health products to determine what can benefit you and help to reach your goals. Never assume you know it all or your muscle gains, and everything else, will suffer. Education and knowledge is power!

There are certainly other reasons you aren't seeing the muscle gains, but this takes care of most of the big issues. If you properly address all of the issues above including protein and nutrition, you will be much more likely to continue to make progress in muscle gains or whatever your goal might be. Good luck, train hard, and train smart!

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