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Top 5 Reasons Why You’re Not Gaining Muscle Mass

Chris Appleton
Author & Editor7 years ago
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Written by Jack Boardman

Reasons You’re Not Gaining Muscle Mass

By reading this article it’s likely that you’re putting in all the work at the gym and not seeing the results you want. Or maybe it’s because you’re new to weightlifting and things aren’t quite going in the right direction – perhaps you leave the gym feeling pumped up like the Hulk but then deflated when you wake up the next morning.

mind muscle connection

You need a plan


To begin, if you’re new to weightlifting and feeling impatient at your lack of progress, then putting together a plan is a good place to start. You’ll have heard more advanced lifters talking about leg day, chest day, back day etc. Having limped home one day you’ll no doubt know leg day when it comes around, but the purpose of this line of thinking is to assign a day in the week when you can focus on a particular muscle group or an area that is weak and requires improvement.


By developing a plan, you’ll be able to systematically see what you have worked on and what you can move on to next. It will also let you know when you need to rest – but more on that shortly. Further to checking off which muscle you’ll exercise and when, you can also take this a step further and make a note of your progress after each exercise.

resistance training

You need to focus on increasing weight, not reps


This brings us to our next point: in order to gain mass muscle, you need to increase the amount of weight you lift. This might sound like a no-brainer, but if your workout is based on reps rather than focussed on increasing weight, you may be leaving pumped up, but your strength and muscle growth may remain on a plateau. Keep a simple rule in mind: low weight at high reps will pump up your arms, whereas low reps using large weights will build real strength and volume in the long run.


A good formula here is three-five sets of three-five reps of a good portion of your one rep max. Begin at 60 per cent of the highest weight you can lift. If you can manage one rep of 100kg, for example, begin with five reps of 60kg and stack on the weight with each lift. When it becomes easy, put it up and lower the number of reps to ensure proper technique until you’re able to increase your reps again.

how to train obliques

You’re not eating enough


All that work, however, is no good if you’re not fuelling your ambition. The best ways to increase muscle size include calorie, vitamin, fat and protein consumption, the amount of cardio you include on your workout day, the amount you lift and how you lift. If you’re not getting the nutrition you need you won’t grow. Simple.


Protein is the building block of muscle and there is a distinct correlation between the amount of protein you ingest and the amount of muscle you can gain. Protein shakes are the perfect way to see you get the protein you need quickly before and after a session.

You’re burning too many carbs elsewhere


Calories are always talked about in a bad light, but this is the energy you need in order to make gains. Another reason you may not be growing as you wish is because you are doing too much cardio and burning too many carbs that you need to pack on muscle.

german volume training

You need to rest


As mentioned earlier, as part of your workout plan, it is important to factor in rest days. It is the time outside of the gym when you grow. Even when in the gym, if you have worked on your biceps on a Wednesday, on the Thursday you should make sure your biceps are getting some time off to grow – focus on triceps, leg day, cable work, anything that does not burden your biceps. If you’re not sleeping properly this will affect your growth hormones – do yourself a favour, put in the work, but then take the time to recover too.

Our articles should be used for informational and educational purposes only and are not intended to be taken as medical advice. If you're concerned, consult a health professional before taking dietary supplements or introducing any major changes to your diet.

Chris Appleton
Author & Editor
View Chris Appleton's profile
Chris is an editor and a level 3 qualified Personal Trainer, with a BA honours degree in Sports Coaching and Development, and a level 3 qualification in Sports Nutrition. He has experience providing fitness classes and programs for beginners and advanced levels of clients and sports athletes. Chris is also a qualified football coach, delivering high-level goalkeeping and fitness training at a semi-professional level, with nutritional advice to help maintain optimal performance. His experience in the sports and fitness industry spans 15 years and is continuously looking to improve. In his spare time, Chris likes to dedicate it to his family while training in the gym.