If you’ve just recently decided to put yourself on a muscle building program but are not yet seeing the results that you had thought you would be, you may be scratching your head and wondering what’s going on.
Many people commit to the goal of building muscle and start ‘doing their time’ in the gym, however not everyone sees the results that they had expected.
You may think that you’re doing everything right, but really, you’re a long way from using a successful approach.
Let’s take a look at five good reasons that you may not be building muscle successfully and show you what you can do about these.
You Aren’t Tracking Calories
Simply put, if you don’t eat, you won’t grow. If your goal is to pack on more lean muscle mass, you need to provide the extra raw materials to do this.
You couldn’t build an addition to your house without bricks and other building supplies, so what makes you think you can build more muscle without the nutrients food provides?
Quite simply, you can’t.
If you are not tracking your calories and making sure to take in more than you need to maintain your body weight, your progress is going to be a long way off – in fact, you’ll never reach it.
You need a calorie surplus. Aim for 250 over maintenance to see lean muscle gains without added fat gain.
You Aren’t Overloading The Body
The second reason you may not be building muscle is because you aren’t overloading the body.
You go into the gym and you put in a good effort. It feels hard, and you get tired.
But are you exhausting the muscle fiber? Are you pushing the barrier to the point where your muscles can’t handle any more?
If you’re constantly stopping a few reps short of this – or using a lighter weight than what you really could handle, don’t be surprised if results pass you by.
You absolutely must be overloading the body if you are going to get results. Fail to do this and you will fail to see progress.
The body grows back stronger with new muscle mass when you apply sufficient overload. If the overload is not there and your body can handle the weight that you’re using, then you’ll simply maintain the status quo.
You Aren’t Adding Variety
The next reason why you may not be building muscle successfully is if you aren’t adding sufficient variety to your workout program.
Just like the principle of overload, the body is going to respond best when you are changing up your workout routine, introducing new exercises or principles into the mix.
This is just another way to apply the principle of overload as it’s something that your muscles have not encountered before.
For instance, rather than doing straight sets of squats and then your chest press, you could do a set of squats and then immediately after that move into a set of chest press. This ‘superset’ fashion will be something totally new for the body and it’ll respond more to it than it would your straight sets.
Alternatively, you can also make small adjustments to the exercises that you’re doing as well. For instance, rather than doing walking lunges, you could do stationary lunges.
Or, rather than doing a standard bench press, you could try a close grip bench press.
All these changes will provide more stimulus for the muscles and will also help to make your workout routine more interesting as well.
You Aren’t Resting
Moving along, lack of overall rest time is yet another reason you may fail to see progress. If you are not resting sufficiently, you won’t be giving your body the time it needs to grow back stronger.
Instead, you’ll just continually go into the gym, breaking down the muscles further and further until you start seeing that you’re getting weaker rather than stronger.
Remember, you grow while you’re out of the gym. When you’re in the gym, you’re getting weaker, which is why if you went to try and lift the same amount of weight at the end of a workout as you did at the start, you would be unsuccessful.
After the recovery process has taken and then you go back into the gym, you should now find yourself feeling stronger than before and more ready to handle a greater stress load.
Most people mistakenly think that the key to success is spending more time in the gym when often the real focus should be on spending less time in the gym.
You Aren’t Being Mindful Of Stress
Finally, the last reason why you may not be building muscle is if you aren’t being mindful of the level of stress you’re experiencing on a day to day basis.
Stress is a significant killer of muscle building results because it will cause a hormone called cortisol to be released, which essentially eats away at your muscle tissues.
Additionally, it can increase the risk of fat gain in the abdominal region, so as you can imagine, it’s definitely not going to help give you the results that you’re after.
Stress also hampers the recovery that you experience from a day to day basis from the workout sessions you’re doing as it will tax your immune system and your immune system is largely involved in the recovery rates you see.
Utilizing good stress control strategies such as journaling, taking long walks, reading self help books to manage what you are stressing over, or speaking to a counselor in some cases will all help improve your results.
The more stress-free you can be on a daily basis, the faster you will see success.
So keep all these reasons in mind and assess your current situation. Which reasons may be impacting you? What can you do to better improve the chances that you go on to build more lean muscle mass?
Take everything into account so that you aren’t wasting any more precious time in the gym.
Shannon Clark holds a Degree in Exercise Science and Sports Performance and is a certified AFLCA personal trainer. She has been working in the health and fitness industry for the last 12 years and writes for FitRated, a leading exercise equipment review and fitness blog. Check out the top rated, new for 2014 Bowflex Max Trainer.