6 reasons why it's hard to gain muscle
Gaining muscle isn't really easy, is it? No matter how much you put all your energy into improving your training, nothing helps: stagnation appears gradually. Then you try to identify potential mistakes to avoid when gaining muscle, but without success. Believe
me, I was in the same situation I was a few years ago. You invest your body and soul in your goal of gaining muscle, by training 6 days out of 7 or by eating foods that are not necessarily very tasty, with virtually no results. I think in terms of frustration, we're pretty good!
But with all these years of research and questioning, I've gained enough experience to know the main factors that prevent muscle gain. These factors I have collected for you today in this article, so that you too can find an answer to the question:
Why can't I gain muscle?
1. You train a lot
So obviously we easily associate the fact of training a lot with overtraining. And rightly so, because the two are more or less related. But overtraining is much broader. Overtraining is defined as a condition in which your coping needs are much greater than your
ability to recover. This is followed by many negative health effects, such as insomnia and the accumulation of fatigue and stress, which can lead to depression. But I am sure that you have never reached such a state of fatigue, otherwise you would have noticed
immediately. On the other hand, we have all been guilty of overtraining at one time or another. And that's the problem. Indeed, if you set up a training volume that is too large, you risk spending too much time in the room. This will directly increase cortisol (the stress
hormone). The longer your workouts, the higher your cortisol levels will remain, which reduces protein synthesis and your ability to form new muscle tissue. So, in short, less muscle in the long run. Not so good as a balance sheet, especially if you are someone who invests
the maximum in their physical development. To see if you're training too much, you just have to check if you're doing well with each training, in terms of your recovery and/or reduced protein synthesis and your ability to make new muscle tissue. So, in
short, less muscle in the long run. Not so good as a balance sheet, especially if you are someone who invests the maximum in their physical development. To see if you're training too much, you just have to check if you're doing well with each training, in terms of your recovery and/or reduced protein synthesis and your ability to
make new muscle tissue. So, in short, less muscle in the long run. Not so good as a balance sheet, especially if you are someone who invests the maximum in their physical development. To see if you're training too much, you just have to check if you're "utilizing" well in
each training, in terms of your recovery and/or body aches. You can also check the duration of each session. If you spend more than an hour and a half in the room, it would be wise to realign your volume throughout the week to get about hour-long sessions.
If by reading this paragraph you realize that you are training a lot, feel free to reduce your training volume over the next few weeks. Maybe you can get the exact same results with 30-50% less training volume? It's up to you to figure out what's the wisest, to re-launch your progress.
2. You don't focus
I still often see people who spend most of their time on their phone, rather than on a training device. In the end, they perform very long sessions, with strength close to nothing. We agree that spending too
much time in the gym, especially if it doesn't yield better results, will never be fun. In the long run, you risk disgust and loss of motivation. Would it be a shame to stop on this fine road?
Therefore, there are several reasons why you may not be sufficiently attentive during training:
Your environment is not the right environment:
When I say "environment," I'm referring to your gym. Many brands are not simply dedicated to muscle hypertrophy, but rather to fitness. This is for available equipment such as clean room atmosphere. So in
fact, bodybuilding is not known to be a team sport par excellence. Often the number 1 criterion for people to choose their gym is price.
However, I think it makes more sense to pay a little more per month to be in a growth-friendly environment, rather than restrict yourself to the gym (again, if muscle hypertrophy is the priority goal).
Do not train at the right times:
I agree that this point does not concern everyone, some people schedule their session according to their work. The ideal time to train is mainly determined by your habits. For example, if for years you have been used to training in the morning, it will be very difficult for
you to train at the end of the day. Body temperature also plays a major role. The higher the sleep level, the more likely you are to perform. Body temperature usually reaches its peak 6 to 8 hours after
awakening. So, if you have the opportunity to test different times for training, do it. As a result, you will very quickly be able to realize what time of day you should prefer to be more alert and efficient.
Your training program needs to be renewed:
This is our next point.
3. Keeping the same program for too long
I'm going to ask you a question: How long have you had the same training program? 2 weeks? one month? 6 months ? In spite of everything, do you keep moving forward? If the answer is no, it's
time to change it! There are different approaches in bodybuilding with regard to development and training programming, but today we will look at 2 of them:
- Plan your progress over a specified number of weeks (training planning)
- Keep the same program as long as possible, as long as you progress in the download
I advise you to test the two approaches and see which one works best for you. You can also do a combination of both: schedule your training over a set number of weeks and reset it according to your progress. But it would be wise not to wait for the level of stagnation to change programs, risking a rollback. Should we completely change or just do a few exercises?
I recommend that you keep a base of exercises, to link each program. At the same time, you can alternate between working in mechanical stress and working in metabolic stress. Quick reminder: Mechanical stress enhances structural damage, over 6 to 10 repetitions.
Metabolic stress, as the name implies, focuses on the metabolic adaptations of the muscle, for a group of 12-15 reps. Also, nothing is stopping you from moving forward with repetitions, aiming not to do 20 or even 30 repetitions. On the other hand, you should know that the more repetitions you have, the closer you should be to failure, to promote muscle hypertrophy.
Anyway, as long as the program makes you progress, you can keep it, provided you continue to have fun during each session. On the other hand, if your software becomes redundant, or if you are not progressing at all, it may be time to tweak some parameters.
Now let's move on to the fourth point.
4. Wear a lot
You know I ask a lot in terms of movement execution. And rightly so because, to me, there is no better way to properly isolate a muscle group. In your opinion, what determines the productivity of your
training? Muscle recruitment and mechanical tension. The more you develop your ability to recruit a muscle group with as much mechanical tension as possible, the more muscle you'll gain. Muscle recruitment is defined as the ability to contract a muscle to perform a
movement. On the other hand, mechanical tension is the pressure you will apply to the same muscle, through its workload. If you're speeding up your movement on the dumbbell press for weightlifting and hoping to recruit chest muscles, you'll only compensate with
other muscle groups. With the goal of muscle hypertrophy, this is not what we are looking for at all. So it's clear that gradual overloading by increasing training volume, or workload, is essential to bodybuilding progress. But there is a difference between extreme
overloading with poor technology and controlled progressive overloading. Hence the importance of planning your training and monitoring your progress through a training diary. But there is a difference between extreme overloading with poor technology and
controlled progressive overloading. Hence the importance of planning your training and monitoring your progress through a training diary. But there is a difference between extreme overloading with poor technology and controlled progressive overloading. Hence the importance of planning your training and monitoring your progress through a training diary.
Now that we've talked about training, let's take a look at diet and how your body composition affects your progress.
5. Being too fat
Did you know that the level of fat in your body greatly affects your ability to gain muscle? All about anabolic hormones. The higher your body fat percentage, the lower your anabolic hormones. There is an ideal fat mass level for a good hormonal level. It varies from
individual to individual, which is why it is very difficult to give an exact number. But if you are a man and your body fat percentage is more than 16%, I advise you to return to the optimal range. On the other hand, women are less affected by this problem, because their bodies work more efficiently with a higher fat rate than men.
As you know, to lose fat, it is necessary to establish a calorie deficit. You should be using more energy than you are using. To do this, you only need to calculate your calorie maintenance, so the total calories that do not make you lose weight. Then apply a calorie deficit to it. I talk about it in this article: How to Calculate Your Calorie Needs
At the same time, I invite you to increase your material expenses associated with your daily activities. You can, why not, schedule a walk of a few kilometers a few times a week, or avoid public transportation to get around and prefer a bike. Finally, it is clear that you have to improve your diet. This is our last point.