Building muscle is incredibly difficult. It can be especially frustrating when you spend hours in the gym and dieting- just to not see any muscle growth.
So, you may be thinking to yourself- why am I NOT gaining muscle?
If you’re not gaining muscle, it’s for three main reasons: You aren’t eating enough, you aren’t sleeping enough, or you aren’t training hard enough. Even if you think you are, chances are- you probably aren’t.
In this article, we will be covering all of these in-depth and explaining exactly how you can fix this to start gaining muscle again by the time you’re done reading. Let’s get into it!
#1 – You’re Not Eating Enough (MOST LIKELY FACTOR)
PLEASE don’t skip over this. So many bodybuilders think they are eating enough when they truly aren’t! And there’s a big reason for it that most people don’t consider.
Lifting Weights Burns Hundreds-Thousands of Calories Everyday
So, here’s the thing. Most people that start lifting weights don’t realize how many calories lifting weights actually burns every day!
In fact, I was one of those people. I, on average, work out nearly 2-3 hours a day. Look, I just love being in the gym and can lift weights for hours without getting bored.
That’s the problem though, lifting weights in general burns hundreds of calories that most people don’t account for in their diet.
As we all know, we need to be in a caloric surplus to grow muscle. (If you didn’t know that, we will cover that in the next subheading!) But, let’s back up and look at the math again.
Let’s say normally you burn 2,000 calories a day- that’s pretty typical for most Americans. Now, you need to eat enough to gain weight, so you will be on average eating 2,500 calories a day.
But, hold on. That weight lifting you’re doing every day will probably add 400-500 extra calories burned every day. Whenever you lift weights, you burn more calories for the next day or so, it’s not right away.
I think that’s why so many people get confused with it. MyFitnessPal may say you only burned 10 calories by doing your overhead presses, but in reality, your body’s “metabolic rate” increases over the next hour as it is spending a lot of energy repairing all the muscle that was broken.
That means you’re probably going to be eating 3,000 calories a day. See how just weightlifting has made you eat nearly double every day?
You NEED to Gain Weight, You CAN’T Gain Muscle If You’re Losing Weight
Look, there are so many fitness gurus that sit there and claim you can gain a whole bunch of muscle and be 25 pounds thinner by the end of the month. This isn’t true.
Here’s the REAL secret to looking good that they hide behind their $250/month “programs”.
- They spend 2-3 months gaining weight and lifting weights.
- Most of that weight gain comes back as purely muscle, so you don’t gain much fat at all.
- They spend 1-2 months losing weight, lifting weights 3-5x to target that fat loss and keep all of that muscle.
- They look incredibly shredded, with a ton of muscle, and little fat.
They ALL gained weight at some point and maybe even looked a little chubby. But think of all the muscular people you’ve seen that have a little chubby- they don’t actually look that bad, do they? That muscle does a lot for building that ‘frame’ and makes you look much bigger overall.
Your body CAN NOT and WILL NOT gain muscle if you don’t eat in a caloric surplus. When you think of it, it makes sense. It’s the Law of Conservation of Mass they taught us way back in middle school- you can’t create something out of nothing! Your body needs those extra calories to turn into muscle.
So, get out there and start eating right. Bulk hard, and cut that fat down later, you got a ton of muscle to put on.
#2 – You Aren’t Sleeping Enough
A big thing that stops muscle growth is not sleeping enough.
I know, I get it. It’s easier said than done, life catches up with us all.
But truthfully guys, if we aren’t sleeping, we aren’t going muscle. The MAJORITY of muscle growth happens when we are asleep. If we aren’t sleeping enough, that muscle growth disappears too.
If you’re able to sleep more, do it. But that’s always easier said than done. So, here are a few things I started doing to help out that made a positive impact on my bodybuilding career:
Sleeping in on weekends/days off.
- They always say it’s really bad for your sleep schedule. But they also say it’s better than getting too little sleep during the weekdays. So I guess- pick your posion?
Sleeping for 10+ hours when possible.
- I used to HATE sleeping, anytime I would wake up and I had slept more than 7-8 hours I would just get up and out of bed. I learned to fall in love with sleeping and how calm and it makes me. It really helps reduce my stress throughout the day, and it helps the muscle growth.
Enhancing the sleep I was getting.
- Investing in good blackout curtains, reducing noise, getting memory foam pillows/a memory foam mattress, adding more blankets, et cetera all enhanced the sleep I was already getting. Believe me, 6 hours of great sleep is much better than 10 hours of horrible sleep where you’re constantly waking up or agitated.
Meditating before bed.
- I never was a big yoga or meditation type of guy, but people kept telling me to do it so I did. It actually helped a lot because for me personally, I always had a hard time sleeping because I always had so much on my mind. I’d always be thinking about things in the past, past conversations, et cetera. But, meditating let me just sit there and get it all out of my head before bed and relax. That way when I get to sleep it happens much faster.
#3 – You Aren’t Exercising Hard Enough
So, chances are, and I’m not trying to be a boot licker to you- BUT, most people do exercise hard enough in the gym, so this is usually not the problematic zone.
However, it certainly is a possibility, and I’ve seen it before in the gym.
Here’s the thing. Oftentimes, beginners in the gym often start with beginner programs, get comfortable with them and don’t move up for a long time. I stayed on Greyskull LP for way longer than I should have, when I should have been on Arnold’s Blueprint to Mass months earlier to have seen better muscle growth.
Those beginner programs are very good for beginners. They actually put on a lot of muscle if you’re new to the gym.
The problem is that when you start putting on that muscle, things start slowing down and halting until you get to a better, more advanced program.
This is just the nature of your body getting stronger, those beginner programs just aren’t enough anymore.
But, I’ve also seen people that just don’t follow programs or do much at all in the gym. You need to be on a good program that you’re tracking every week to make sure you are ‘progressively overloading’ your muscles.
Remember, your muscles won’t grow if you don’t increase the weight.
When I started bodybuilding, I used to believe that if you just kept lifting the same weight, your muscles would just kind of ‘figure it out’ and grow. And honestly, that’s not that stupid of a concept.
The problem is, our bodies do NOT work like that at all. They need really tough ‘overload’ where you actively increase the weight and really stress your muscles.
So, if you’ve been curling the same weight for a while, it’s time to up the weight even though it will be a challenge. You might miss a few reps- that’s okay, that’s exactly what your body needs to grow that muscle.
Conclusion of Why Am I Not Gaining Muscle?
Hopefully, this article helped you figure out why you aren’t gaining muscle.
Let’s refresh our minds:
- You might not be eating enough.
- You might not be sleeping enough.
- You might not be working out hard enough.
And we can solve this by:
- Eating more high protein, calorie dense foods. (peanut butter)
- Trying to make the best of your sleep. (Get black out curtains, ear plugs, more pillows, sleeping in, etc)
- Get on a new, reputable program, increase the weight and push yourself.
Hopefully, this helped, please let me know in the comments if you have any questions or if there is anything I can help you with.