If you’re working out in the gym and trying to get fit there’s no doubt that building lean muscle is one of your goals. When people start to get healthy and active it’s usually to lose weight and gain strength, but building muscle is right up there too.
Unfortunately, if you’re not on top of things it can be pretty easy to not use your time effectively and this can prevent you from building muscle. You want to not waste your time so this episode will share 13 reasons why you may not be building muscle. If you’ve found yourself hitting a sticking point, or not making any progress gaining muscle you’ve come to the right place.
In This Episode You Will Learn:
- Why muscle is so much more important than just looking good
- How many calories you need to build muscle
- How much protein you should be eating
- The actual amount of time you want to spend in the gym
- How long a set should be to build muscle
- The most important thing to focus on while lifting weights
- How many repititions are the best for building muscle
- How water is involved in muscle building
- Where real muscle building takes place
- The problem with training too much
If you are interested in health fitness, you know muscle fitness is probably one of your main goals. Especially if you’ve been working out, you want to do it hard and smart but you also do not want to waste your time. So, you need to give yourself all the opportunities you can to build yourself as much muscle as possible.
Although the top perk of having lean muscles is weight loss, having such a physique not only looks good but it’s valuable to your overall health. So, when you increase your lean muscle mass, you’re going to experience nice posture, better joint protection, strengthened bones, reinforced joints & tendons, increased metabolism, improved athletic performance and better balance.
So essentially, lean muscles are not only for looking good on the beach but also functionally important for your body.
13 Reasons Why You Are Not Gaining Muscles
1. Insufficient Calorie Intake
All that time at the gym working out and breaking a sweat might all be for nothing if you are not taking enough calories. When you are not in a calorie surplus, it can be very difficult for your body to focus on muscle building. So, you not only need the calories to fuel your workouts but for your body to repair and grow.
This is where it gets a little messy because calorie counting is far from being a perfect science and there are a lot of issues that come with it. You can’t specifically point out how many calories you are eating, and you cannot deduce how much of it your body is burning since, well, your body is not essentially a calculator is. It’s not just as simple as calories in and calories out. Your body is a biological organism that is subject to change based on a ton of different conditions.
But, nonetheless, to get a rough idea of where you need to be to build muscle, you want to take your weight, in pounds, and multiply it by 15 to 17. That will give you kind of a rough idea of how many calories your body is going to need, and you can then start working around that.
Some people do tend to be a bit more specific about calorie counting and they like to track a lot of stuff. But at the end of the day, it’s not as simple as a mathematical equation. This is all about getting you started on the right path and give you a brief idea of what our body demands and how much you need to give to it.
You might essentially not have any clue about how much calories you are taking in each day. There are people who are not aware of the variability that arises from day to day. When they track their intake for a few days, what they notice is that one day it might be 800 calories and just the next day, it might peak up to 4000. It’s quite surprising how people just don’t know how much their diet varies from one day to the next.
So, you need to get down to a starting point and measuring your calorie intake is a good way to get at it.
2. Not Consuming Enough Protein
Proteins are vitally important for active muscle building. When you work out, you break down muscle fibres. And when these broken fibres are repaired, they are built back bigger and stronger.
Over time, this increases lean muscle mass. By a basic rule of thumb, you should aim for about 0.8 grams of protein per pound of body weight.
3. Not Drinking Enough Water
Two-thirds of the total amount of water in your body is found in your muscle cells, which are essentially made up of protein and water. If you want to get more of it, you need to increase your water intake. A good approach is to drink about half your weight, in ounces, each day.
It might seem logical that the more you work out, the more muscle building you will accomplish. This is not the case, however, as constant training will burn your body out. Your body will essentially keep on trying to rebuild itself without getting enough rest time to do that.
That ends up increasing your stress hormones, like cortisol, leading to injury and sickness due to suppression of the immune system. Your central nervous system will also take a pounding ultimately putting you a few steps back from already made progress.
5. Lack Of Sleep
Lack of proper sleep can derail any muscle-building routine along with your health. So besides nutrition, sleeping is when your body actually recovers and repairs itself.
Muscle growth does not happen in the gym but rather during the times you eat and sleep at home after you’ve broken a sweat at the gym. If you deprive yourself of sleep, that is not going to happen.
The disturbed sleep patterns can elevate your stress hormones too making the process of gaining body fat a lot easier while dragging your energy levels down. Combined with overtraining, this can be an absolute disaster.
6. Insufficient Carbs
Proper carbs intake is also imperative to your lean muscle growth. If you are working out hard, your body is going to need energy and you can get that in the form of glucose from carbohydrates that you eat.
So, carbs are going to help you perform better at the gym and help you lift more weights leading to better muscle building and increased daily energy along with a good mood. For optimal advantage, you want to opt for the complex carbohydrates that take longer to break down and are gentler on your blood glucose level.
7. Not Lifting Enough Weight
If your workouts are not challenging you, then you need to up the intensity. An excessive number of reps on an easy weight are never going to be sufficient to break down your muscles.
It’s still going to be some form of a workout but if lean muscles are your goal, you need to choose a heavier weight that you can do fewer reps with. On average, 10-12 reps with a challenging weight while maintaining form and techniques can be a good target.
As a beginner just starting out with a muscle growth routine, you need to spend at least a week to keep track of the amount of weight that you find comfortable and the amount that throws you a challenge.
Then you need to reach the perfect balance between that and the number of reps you can do. As you keep building strength and continuing your workout journey, you need to gradually keep on increasing the weights as well.
8. Lifting Too Much Weight
If you can perform only 2 to 5 reps, that weight is probably too heavy and not a good option for good lean muscle growth. You will be building strength though but kind of through a powerlifting mode.
You need to remember that you are not from a seasoned strength-training powerlifter background. So, you have to find the right amount of weight combined with an adequate number of reps.
Otherwise, you’re just going to be fighting the excess stress. Your joints are going to be taking too much burn and you’re barely going to be working the muscle that you intend to train.
9. Lifting Weight Too Fast
In order to build lean muscles, your body needs to achieve something called a good time under tension where your muscle fibres get the full resistance causing real muscle growth to occur.
If you just crank out a huge number of reps in a very short time, you are not going to get the necessary time under tension needed for your muscles to grow. You need to be doing sets that last at least 30 to 45 seconds when you want to be building proper good muscle.
10. Lifting With Poor Form
You want a challenging weight but one that you can control through those reps to get a good 30-45 seconds range. If you can’t control the weight, you’re essentially going to be working out towards everything except those intended muscles. Undoubtedly, a sloppy form is going to engage your joints and tendons much more than your muscles.
This will lead to injuries, strains or pulls. As a result, you’re going to get set back a long time to recover causing a barrier in your muscle-building routine.
11. Connecting Muscles To The Mind
The muscle-mind connection is not some whacky wrestling tactic from the 90s but an actual state of being aware of the muscle that you are working. You need to focus on the muscle and squeeze it intentionally as much as possible to achieve maximum muscle building effect.
If you’re just going through the motion of any exercise but not fully engaging the muscle involved, it’s not practically going to grow bigger or stronger. A correct stance involving good feet placement or effective knee positions and core engagement are both definitely essential but don’t let that take your focus away for the intended muscle.
All in all, put your mental concentration on the muscle that you are working and that’s going to give you better engagement with visibly satisfying results.
12. Not Stretching Enough
If you just leave the heck out of the gym right after you finish your workout, you are missing out on a crucial aspect of muscle building – Stretching. Stretching after exercise effectively starts the recovery process and prepares your body for the next set in the workout.
Without stretching, you can leave your muscles wound up pretty tight leading to a constrained Fascia. The Fascia is like a bag that holds and covers your muscle. Stretching allows expansion of that fascia to give muscle more room to grow.
Stretching between sets is also very much encouraged since it is helpful for better growth and blood circulation in the muscles. Even if your cardiovascular system quickly feels ready to jump into the next set, your muscles might not be able to recover from the stress that soon.
So, it’s always a good idea to rest and stretch in little breaks of 2-3 minutes during workouts to gain the highest output while still retaining proper physical conditions.
13. Not Getting Enough Micronutrients
You might be getting all the necessary proteins and carbs, but you will still need micronutrients. So, you need a good non-starchy double-digit serving of fruits and vegetables included within your regular diet plan.
You’ll have to concentrate more on dark green leafy vegetables since they have more chlorophyll content meaning more vital minerals, vitamins and antioxidants. But you must keep track of the full range of colours including red yellow and purple as well.
Adding a multivitamin supplement to your diet is also not a bad idea. However, you should definitely not rely solely on supplements. They’re only good for a day when you can’t put too much focus on a strict diet but still want to get those nutrients into your system.
Wrapping It Up…
If you are just getting into fitness or have been doing it for a while, you might have hit a stumbling block. In that case, you must remember that muscle building does not happen overnight. It takes some amount of hard work, involves planning, dedication, and sheer consistency.
You also want to make sure that you are not just spinning all the wrong wheels and making crucial mistakes as the ones mentioned above. This can essentially lead to delaying your progress.
Consistency is what really drives results. So, if you can just focus on being consistent with it at the gym, you will start seeing results in good time. Specific gym programs and diet adjustments are all very important, but consistency, at the end of the day, is what you really need to focus on.
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If you’re trying to get fit you just want to make sure you’re using your time in the best way and all these tips will help get you on the road to muscle gain.