1. You don’t eat enough
If you aren’t getting a surplus of calories, you simply won’t grow. If you’re not sure how many calories/day you should be consuming, the harris-benedict formula is an equation that will help you determine just that. First we must find out your “basal metabolic rate,” which is the number of calories your body would burn if staying in bed all day:
||BMR = 88.362 + (13.397 x weight in kg) + (4.799 x height in cm) – (5.677 x age in years)
||BMR = 447.593 + (9.247 x weight in kg) + (3.098 x height in cm) – (4.330 x age in years)
After you have determined you BMR, use this table to figure out your daily recommended intake:
|Little to no exercise
||Daily kilocalories needed = BMR x 1.2
|Light exercise (1–3 days per week)
||Daily kilocalories needed = BMR x 1.375
|Moderate exercise (3–5 days per week)
||Daily kilocalories needed = BMR x 1.55
|Heavy exercise (6–7 days per week)
||Daily kilocalories needed = BMR x 1.725
|Very heavy exercise (twice per day, extra heavy workouts)
||Daily kilocalories needed = BMR x 1.9
Finally, now that you have a good idea of how many calories your body needs to maintain its current weight, you need to add calories in order to have the surplus required to build lean tissue. I would start with an increase of 250 calories/day; see how your body responds after a couple of weeks and then increase/decrease from there.
2. You do too much cardio
If you are already not eating enough calories, expending more calories via cardio will make it next to impossible for your body to gain lean muscle. The right type of cardio has its place (sprint training, slow long distance) but your first priority should be resistance training.
3. You’re not getting enough protein &/or carbs
Protein is needed for growth and to repair broken down tissue. If you aren’t getting enough, your body will turn to breaking down muscle in order to meet its daily protein needs. 1.2 -1.5 grams of protein per pound of body weight should be consumed each day. It may seem like a lot at first, but it can easily be reached through the frequent consumption of lean meats, low fat dairy, eggs; egg whites, and protein powder.
Moreover, restricting your intake of carbohydrates while trying to put on muscle will leave you flat and feeling like garbage. Carbs supply the energy needed to get through intense workouts, and your brain alone needs 130g/day to function properly. 2-3g of carbs per pound of body weight is needed each day when gaining muscle. Make at least 80% of these carbs complex, and only consume simple carbs around your workouts.
Good Carb, Bad Carb
4. You’re inconsistent
For anything to work, consistency is vital. Almost any weight lifting plan will work if you’re consistent with it. I used to make the mistake of doing different workouts every time I hit the gym; it wasn’t until I started sticking to a plan for 4-6 weeks at a time did I really start to see gains in both lean muscle mass and strength. Find a plan, log everything, and follow through with it.
If you’re inconsistent at hitting the gym all together, well you have your answer right there.
5. You’ve been doing to same thing for too long and/or you aren’t training hard enough
Opposite from inconsistency, you’re consistent but cannot recall that last time you did something different. Our bodies are good at adapting to repetitive training stimulus, and sooner or later you will hit a plateau if you don’t switch up the exercises and/or the rep and set schemes.
On the same note, you simply might not be training hard enough. If you’re not challenged during your workouts and don’t opt for the heavy weights, you aren’t causing damage to your muscles, if you aren’t causing damage your muscles will have no need to repair itself and heal bigger and stronger. Stop being a sissy and lift heavy things!
(For hypertrophy, 3-4 sets of 8-12 reps is generally agreed upon)
6. You don’t sleep/recover enough
Training hard and eating well plays a huge role in gaining muscle, but just as important is sleep and recovery. Human Growth Hormone (HGH) is highest when we sleep so getting the recommended 8 hours each night is a must. Also, those who don’t sleep enough tend to have higher levels of cortisol, which is catabolic hormone (breaks down muscle tissue); clearly this is a bad thing for those wanting more muscle.
7. You aren’t supplementing properly
This should be the last thing to consider, and only if you have perfected the points above. Also, relying on supplements to increase your performance is a poor idea.
Personally, I’m all for protein powders, multivitamins, amino acids, and some pre-workouts; they have helped boost my training and aid in my recovery.