It’s definitely not easy to build muscles, especially after you’re no longer a beginner. so you might be working out hard and you’re eating right. but, no matter how hard you try your muscles are still not growing, this is a common problem faced by many guys that workout a lot but hardly experienced any results, even if their workouts are already challenging.
and really it comes down to eight key reasons why you’re trying so hard but not seeing much growth.
1. You’re Not Training Through A Full Range Of Motion
moving back to the quality of your workouts another issue you might be running into is you’re not training through a full range of motion research shows that you’ll get better gains if you train through a full range of motion for example one study randomly divided 17 male students into two groups group number one did deep squats three times per week for 12 weeks.
group number two followed the same exact routine except they only squatted through a partial range of motion and the results showed that the deep squat group gained much more muscle on the quads than the group going for partials.
other studies also show similar results but you might be wondering what about going through a full range of motion helps you build more muscle well first of all it produces a higher level of muscle activation the second thing is that different portions of a movement emphasize different parts of your muscles so you might miss out on stimulating all parts of a specific muscle if you go for partial reps on top of that overloading muscles in their stretch position which is something that you do with full range of motion exercises that seems to be particularly important for muscle growth because it stimulates muscle hypertrophy by influencing the sacrum ears within your muscles in a way that increases a muscles length allowing for greater muscle building potential.
2. You’re Overdoing Cardio
Starting first with a very common training mistake, overdoing cardio. a 2012 meta-analysis found that adding cardio to resistance training routine reduced muscle growth effect size by 39%, although it is important to note that most of this reduction of muscle growth affected the lower body and not the upper body.
but regardless the reason why cardio hurts muscle growth is because, not only does it take away from your calorie surplus that you need to be in for muscle growth, but it also reduces mTOR activity.
mTOR is an enzyme that’s crucial for muscle growth, at the same time cardio also increases the catabolic enzyme NPK which is very bad for muscle growth, on top of all that adding cardio to our resistance training plan can also reduce strength and performance, that’s because cardio causes unfavorable muscle fiber changes, and it lowers muscle activation speed, and reduces your body’s glycogen levels. as a result of all this, you won’t be able to use the same amount of weight as you otherwise could, which means you can’t provide an optimal amount of stimulus on your muscles to get them to grow.
3. You Need Progressive Overload
Moving on we have the next very common mistake that will prevent you from building muscle, and that’s not focusing on getting stronger the most important training principle for gaining muscle is that you must expose your muscles to a level of stimulus that they’re not yet accustomed to, this is known as progressive overload and while there are many ways to do this, the most effective way is by lifting heavier weights over time, and that’s because there’s a very close relationship between strength and size.
For example, in Olympic weightlifters, there’s an extremely tight relationship between fat-free mass (muscle mass) and performance. and in powerlifters, the relationship is even stronger within an 86 to 95 percent correlation between a lifters muscle mass and their strength and performance in the key power lifts like: squats, deadlifts, and bench press. So that’s almost 100 percent correlation which would mean muscle mass and strength are essentially almost the same.
The bottom line is that if you want to gain muscle, your main focus during your workouts should be on getting stronger if you do this you will gain muscle over time.
4. Not Training Each Muscle Often Enough
Moving on to another very common training mistake, and that’s not training each muscle often enough. a survey of 127 competitive male bodybuilders found that more than two-thirds of them, trained each muscle group only once per week, this is what’s known as a bro split where you work pretty much one muscle per day and it allows you to really focus on that muscle and break it down for an incredible pump.
but is that optimal? well the answer is no as shown by multiple studies specifically in one of these studies researchers observe the difference in the rate of muscle growth between training a muscle once or three times per week with a similar total training volume between both groups and the results showed that those who trained each muscle three times per week gained much more muscle than those who trained each muscle less often.
in another study participants either performed all their weekly exercise volume in one giant full-body workout or they spread out the same training volume so they did the same amount of sets and wraps but they divided that volume into three smaller full-body sessions and once again those who trained more often gain significantly more muscle the once-a-week subjects increase their lean body mass by only one percent while those that train each muscle three times per week gained 8 percent.
and like I said many other studies also show similar results one reason why it’s better to Train each muscle more often than once a week is because if you do a ton of sets and reps all within one day you’ll inevitably have lower quality sets after you’ve done a few heavy sets for a specific muscle the amount of force you’ll be able to produce during later sets will decrease significantly on the other hand if you spread that volume out over the week you’ll be able to perform better for each set because you’ll be less fatigued.
another reason why it’s better to strain your muscles at least two times a week is because protein synthesis generally only stays elevated for about 72 hours after workout, so if you’re training each muscle only once every seven days you’ll only trigger growth for up to 72 hours that week and during the other 96 hours of the week you’ll miss out on gains.
5. You’re Not Doing Enough Training Volume
the next reason why you’re not gaining muscle is that you’re not doing enough training volume now there are many ways that you can describe training volume but the most useful way is as set volume which refers to the number of sets you do per muscle group if you’re not gaining muscle it may be because you’re not doing enough training volume since there’s a clear dose response relationship between training volume and muscle growth this means that the more volume you do the more you grow we can see this in a meta-analysis that found that doing multiple sets per exercise led to 40% more muscle growth than doing only one set per exercise the study also found that doing 4 to 6 sets per exercise was superior to 2 to 3 sets and 2 to 3 sets was better of course than only doing one set.
on top of that a 2018 study compared the results of men that did either 1 3 or 5 sets per exercise over the course of eight weeks this led to a total weekly number of sets per muscle group of six and nine sets for the one set group 18 and 27 sets for the 3 set group and 30 and 45 sets for the 5 set group.
all sets were also taken to failure regardless of the group and sure enough once again there was a clear dose response relationship that showed that higher training volumes led to significantly greater muscle growth.
the researchers concluded that muscle hypertrophy follows a dose response relationship with increasingly greater gains achieved with higher training volumes now it’s important to note that more isn’t always better if you don’t recover well from your workouts you can start overreaching or even end up in an overtrained state which hurts your progress rather than helps it.
however it is beneficial to raise training volumes slightly over time especially if your progress has started to stall as a rule of thumb if you recover well between your workouts but you’re not making any gains try to slightly increase your training volume.
if after in court operating more sets you don’t notice any muscle growth and you find it much harder to recover fully between workouts then you can always reduce total training volume back to where it was.
but if you do make good progress and after a week or two of adapting you find that you’re recovering just fine between your workouts then maintain your current training volume for some time and then continue trying to slightly increase it.
6. You Not Being In A Calorie Surplus
now besides all these training mistakes that you might be making you’re probably also making one or two diet mistakes as well starting first with not being in a calorie surplus while you can build muscle in a calorie deficit in some scenarios mostly when you’re a beginner if you want to optimize growth you need to be in a calorie surplus.
being in a surplus is beneficial because it triggers physiological changes that aid muscle growth examples of this include raising testosterone and igf-1 levels while simultaneously lowering cortisol these changes to your hormones increase muscle protein synthesis while reducing muscle protein breakdown which simply means that it stimulates muscle growth.
now it’s important to keep in mind that a larger calorie surplus isn’t always better for example there was a 12-week study that compared muscle strength gains among athletes who ate either a small calorie surplus or a much larger one with 600 extra calories while both approaches cause the same amount of strength and muscle growth those who ate a small surplus packed on five times less fat than those who ate an extra 600 calories.
the point is that you only need a small calorie surplus to optimize muscle growth anything above that doesn’t seem to cause faster growth and instead it only causes excessive fat gain as a rule of thumb a small calorie surplus of around four to eight percent above maintenance is a great way to stay lean while bulking.
7. You’re Not Consuming Enough Cholesterol
now another not so commonly known reason why you’re not building muscle is because you’re not consuming enough cholesterol that’s right not consuming enough cholesterol can definitely slow your gains a 12 week long strength training study found a linear dose-response relationship between dietary cholesterol intake and lean body mass gains or in other words muscle growth this means that the more cholesterol they consumed the more muscle they gained.
in another study researchers compared a high cholesterol diet of 800 milligrams per day to a low cholesterol diet of less than 200 milligrams per day and the high cholesterol group had almost three times higher muscle protein synthesis rates for 22 hours after intense resistance training than the low cholesterol group, this showed that the higher cholesterol diet was actually beneficial for muscle growth
the researchers concluded that cholesterol may aid muscle growth by helping your body cope with inflammatory responses and by enhancing cellular communication now this is all of course within good reason there are good sources of cholesterol and there are also bad sources of cholesterol so make sure that you stick to eating enough healthy sources of fat to optimize muscle growth.
8. You’re Not Getting Enough Protein
finally, another diet related reason why you’re not growing is that you’re not getting enough protein as most of you already know protein is crucial for muscle growth that’s because the amino acids found in the food you eat end up being used as building blocks for your muscles to be more specific muscle growth occurs when more amino acids are built up within a muscle than the amount that gets broken down on a daily basis.
if that happens your muscles are in a positive nitrogen balance which leads to growth however to get your muscles into this state requires that you eat enough protein but how much exactly is enough? well according to a 2008 meta-analysis the answer is at least 1.6 grams of protein per kilogram of body weight per day this works out to about 0.732 point eight grams of protein per pound of bodyweight so if you weigh 176 pounds that means you need to be getting at least 128 grams of protein per day that’ll allow you to maximize all the muscle building benefits of protein. now even though you’re welcome to eat more than that if you want it won’t have any added benefits.