10 Reasons You're Not Building Muscle
Building muscle and packing on the pounds isn't just about "picking things up and putting them down." What's holding you back?
Packing on muscle is no easy feat regardless of whether you're a string bean or a husky guy. And why you're missing out on gains is typically caused by a number of reasons that can be easily avoided. So if you're frustrated about being stuck in the place and at the same weight, it's time to assess what you're doing and make a change.
1. YOU'RE IMPATIENT
If you’re a true beginner, the first phase of your training program results in changes that you can’t see – typically, your coordination improves with each exercise and the amount of co-contraction between muscles decreases. Your brain gets better at communicating with your muscles and can actually activate a higher percentage of your muscle fibers, commonly referred to as neuromuscular efficiency. Don’t look in the mirror after two weeks and wonder why you’re not getting bigger. Be patient and put in the work, the results will come.
2. YOU DON'T KEEP TRACK
Training logs are just as important as the program. How are you supposed to know what to do today or what you did last week without keeping track of it? To maximize muscle hypertrophy, keep track of all your workouts, weight used, repetitions performed, the tempo of the exercise and the breaks between sets. Keeping a training log will allow you to track your progress and your energy levels. Logs are also a great way to look back to see how (hopefully not) you got injured or over-trained.
3. YOU'VE GOT NO STRUCTURE
Remove the randomness from your workouts and stick to a plan. This is the best way to improve strength and increase muscle size. Random training might make you strong (for a beginner), but it's inferior to a planned periodized training program. A linear periodized plan can look like this: week 1: 3x12-15; week 2: 3x10-12; and week 3: 3x8-10. A non-periodized plan can look like this: weeks 1-3: 1st set 10-12 reps; 2nd set 6-8 reps, 3rd set 3-5 reps. Pick a plan and stick to it for maximum gains.
4. YOU'RE DOING TOO MUCH CARDIO
If your goals are size and strength, cardio workouts should not dominate your program. HIIT workouts and easy cardio sessions can be slotted into your program, but your 1st priority is getting in the 3-4 weight training days. If you can recover well between workouts, feel free to add in a cardio session here or there, but not at the expense of your recovery.
5. YOU'RE A HEADCASE
Having too much negative stress in your life can wreck havoc on your body’s chemistry and your overall health. It’s easier said than done, but you need to chill out man. Find a job you enjoy and a non-drama-filled girlfriend. Eat fresh whole foods and drink plenty of water. Try to get 8-9 hours of uninterrupted sleep per night. Learn how to meditate. The lower the stress, the better you recover. The better you recover, the better your progress. Make it happen.