You’ve been spending tons of time in the gym trying a Jen Selter Butt or abs like Ross Dickerson and but you don’t seem to be building any muscle. And now you’re getting frustrated wondering why…Several things could explain why your arms are as saggy as ever (or why your butt isn’t getting any bigger or your shoulders don’t look any more sculpted)—and most of them are completely under your control. Here are some explanations and changes you can make to ensure all your hard work pays off.
You’re doing mostly cardio.
I love cardio, I am the queen of cardio and don’t get me wrong, cardio is important for keeping your body fat down and keeping your heart health in check. It is proven that if you run or cycle outdoors that this exercise is linked to better energy and improved mental health. But when it comes to building muscle, hitting the treadmill won’t help you much.
Why? “Every component of exercise, minus cardio, can help with muscle hypertrophy,” which is the scientific term for muscle building recently stated in an article I read. “Cardio tends to burn calories and puts your body in a deficit, which is great for leaning out, but not building mass.”
Basically, you’re burning the calories that your muscles may need to grow.
You’re not using heavy enough weights.
Those 2/3 kg dumbbells were a great place to start as a beginner, but if you’ve been lifting weights for a while, it’s time to bump up the weight. This one I was guilty of for months.
I’m not saying you should be ego lifting which can lead to injury, no, I’m just saying that its important you challenge yourself every week. Push the boundaries, gradually increase your weights, challenge yourself, it doesn’t matter if you use free weights or machine weights.. In order to build muscle, you must break down muscle tissue using a weight that is challenging enough to cause micro-tears, which when repaired, form denser, stronger fibers.
You’re not sleeping enough.
Those micro-tears that are such a key factor for muscle-building need rest to rebuild themselves and grow stronger. When do they do that? When you’re asleep! The 2 most important things which you control with regard muscle building is how much you sleep and how much you eat between muscles. You have to rest and feed your muscles between workouts or you will tear them down and they will become weaker. Over time, you run the risk of over-training, which can result in injury, and possibly even more sleep troubles.
You’re inconsistent with your routine.
If you’re serious about putting on some muscle, then the most efficient way to do it is with three intense resistance training sessions and two lighter intensity workouts per week. Consistency is key. Make sure you have a program designed, hitting at least each muscle group two times a week to build muscle. If you’re looking to switch up exercises, swap sumo squats for traditional squats; step-ups on a bench instead of lunges; and then rotating back to the former. Make sure you change your routine as your body adapts so that it doesn’t get accustomed to your training plan either.
You’ve developed muscle imbalances.
A muscle imbalance—when one muscle is stronger than its opposing muscle—can limit your ability to exercise effectively, and could lead to injury down the line. One common imbalance in women is stronger quads and weaker, tighter hamstrings, thanks to prolonged sitting, high heels, and improper training, aka focusing too much on the squat. If you suspect you have a muscle imbalance, make sure that you design a program that targets your weaker areas, or seek a professionals advice.
You have bad form.
It’s not just about lifting, or how HEAVY you can lift—it’s about lifting safely and correctly. And if you’re not performing exercises properly, it’s impossible to make any progress. If you are starting to work out, I cannot advise more the benefits of working closely with a knowledgeable personal trainer in order to learn proper form for a few session. But this also goes for experienced lifters, too. If you aren’t sure about a movement, it’s better to ask. If you’re not working the correct muscles, you can’t expect them to grow?
Your genetics may not be working in your favour.
It’s true—your genes can play a role when it comes to building muscle. In general, there are two types of muscle fibers: Type I, which are slow twitch, and Type II, which are fast twitch. Depending on which you have more of, you may have an easier or harder time gaining muscle. Fast twitch muscle fibers are two times as thick as slow twitch muscle fibers, lending to the overall thickness of the muscle without any activity. Those people with a genetic predisposition of a high percentage of these fibers can increase muscle size very easily while the people with a higher percentage of slow twitch muscle fibers have to work really hard to put on mass. But patience is key, and it’s important to remember that you’re working on yourself, and not to look at others.