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For every person that gets great results in the gym, there are probably 10 people who start and fail. There could be many reasons to the reasons why, I will now take you through my top 10 reasons why you aren’t growing (this is adapted from Phil Learney to match my own experiences).
- You do not eat enough/You are scared of carbs
(Beginners excluded) You don’t build muscle without a calorie surplus. Carbs fuel the muscle and enable you to push yourself more and minimise fatigue. Without enough fuel, you will not grow. Fact.
- You stop the moment it begins to hurt a little
The ability to push out another rep or two during fatigue is the difference between progression and standing still. The body does not want to change. It will only respond to stress. It is this simple, if you do not place sufficient stress onto the muscle, then growth will not occur.
- You never fully commit to growing, as you fear losing muscle definition
You want to be big and ripped even though these are polar opposites. As soon as you start to grow you get too worried about losing abdominal definition so you cut calories. End result? Little to no growth. You stay in the average grey area where you neither gain nor lose body fat. The same occurs with people dieting whilst they feel too small.
- You move a weight from A to B with a complete disregard to the stretch and contraction
Weight training is a tool used to stimulate a muscle. We are not looking for an athletic movement i.e. move a weight from A-B (like in CrossFit). If the weight is too heavy, then you will be unable to effectively contract against it. What you are looking for is to achieve a forceful deliberate contraction by the target muscle, against that weight. This will stimulate muscle growth.
- You fail to train consistently with progressive overload
If you don’t lift more/or with greater volume, then you are not progressing. Without increased stress on the muscle, you will stop adapting.
- You lack intensity in your workouts
Intensity is a necessary stress to facilitate growth. Each set should begin with a little more fatigue than at the start of the previous. For instance, compare doing 3 sets of bench press with only 60 secs rest between each set, vs. 3 sets of bench press done in a day. Clearly, the first provides stimulus, the second does not.
- You do too much in the gym, with little quality
The scientific reason for this common mistake is that by doing too much in the gym, you will raise your cortisol levels and other catabolic hormones. Ideally, you should try not to train for more than 45-60 mins. If you are scared of hard work and pain, you may be tempted to do more, at a lower intensity to compensate. This does not work as the required stressors aren’t there.
- Your body fat is affecting your ability to gain muscle
Too much body fat increases the enzyme Aromatase. This helps produce Estrogen. This will work against the natural Testosterone muscle building properties and contribute to that calorie surplus being stored as fat, rather than muscle. The best option is to get lean (10-12% body fat) before starting to bulk.
- You focus on supplements at the expense of real food
The clue is in the name. They ‘supplement’ an already good diet. Without enough real food, you may run into vitamin/mineral deficiency and subsequently, poor health which will impact on your training. Our forefathers were able to get big, without supplements, and you can too! Very few people really need them. In my experience, most use them out of laziness meaning they don’t have to put so much time into kitchen preparation.
- You do not rest enough outside the gym
In the gym, you should get in, work hard and get out. You grow whilst you rest and sleep. Ensure you program rest days into your training and if you feel especially jaded, take a day off. Become attuned to your body and look for signs of over-reaching. Too much training and not enough rest will prevent muscle growth, and you may even get weaker.
Ensure you have a calorie surplus and aim for 8 quality hours of sleep each night. If life is especially stressful with work or the family, then cut back on your training to compensate for that.
I hope these tips help. If you enjoyed this article, please feel free to share on social media so more people can finally learn some of the reasons why they are not growing as much as they feel they should be.
If you want a more personalised approach, WAKE FIT provides personal training in London dedicated to make you the best you can be.