Why People Struggle to Gain Muscle Mass

2 mins read
Powerful muscular man lifting weight.
Powerful muscular man lifting weight. Source: Depositphoos

Fitness goals vary from person-to-person and for each person through their lives. What they want from their body, from. Their ultimate fitness goal could be fixed – set in stone because of idol, say – but as their body and routines change over the course of a life how they accomplish it must adapt. 


Gaining muscle mass is common, though. People often set their sights on ‘getting bigger’, increasing their strength, power, or muscle visibility. Struggles do happen, though, for some. They schedule their workouts, scour the internet for exercises, meal prep for weeks, and do all they see is fit and right. Nonetheless, they struggle to gain muscle. What could the reasons be?


Broadly speaking, we can split this into three key areas: diet, sleep, and exercise regime. Let’s go into more depth on each…


Key Area #1: Diet


Diet is integral to your health – be it for the size you are currently and are happy at or for where you want to be (bigger or smaller). Volume and food groups underpin potential dietary issues people could be having when struggling to gain muscle. 


Undereating. If you are not eating enough, there is no way you’re going to put on muscle. What ‘not enough’ is depends on your size anyway, what your ‘usual’ eating volume is. Online estimators can give you some helpful guidance on what the minimum you should be consuming is, and tracking what you’re eating and when can aid your pursuit. Your body needs enough energy to fuel your training and your recovery.


Protein and carbohydrates are two key nutrients for gaining muscle. It’s possible to gain muscle mass on a low-carb diet. However, to really ‘bulk’ carbs are necessary, often followed by a ‘cut’ to reduce the fat on your body to make that muscle gain truly visible. 


Supplements can be incorporated into your diet to improve protein and carb intake, with meals or between them. Additionally, some people use anabolic steroids to stimulate muscle growth and/or weight loss to improve both their strength and muscle visibility – click here for examples. 


The bottom line is what goes into your body, in the right quantity and at regular intervals, is an essential component of gaining muscles.


Key Area #2: Sleep


While many uber-productive people see sleep as wasted time, for those looking to be at their healthiest – to max out their grinds and themselves – sleep is essential. For gaining muscle, sleep must be prioritised. In the non-REM sleep cycle, your body releases growth hormones which cause your muscles and tissue to repair and grow. 7-9 hours sleep is fundamental, then, to getting bigger.


Key Area #3: Training


You’re training. You must be. That much is obvious. To be stronger, you must put your body through rigorous tests. Consistency and quality, though, could be two things holding your muscle growth back, though. 


Training consistently is a slow and steady process towards your goal. You will be reformatting your spare time, dedicating yourself to this pursuit. Nonetheless, this discipline will be rewarded. However, you must be efficient. Overdoing it could result in injury and soreness. Listening to your body, becoming attuned to how it feels is necessary. Additionally, it may indicate, should you feel sore or achy, that your recovery isn’t doing what it should do, which requires attention.


The types of training you’re doing has to be purposeful. Ensuring you’re hitting every muscle you need to both actively and passively will see you make gains. Form takes precedent, though:  a) because you want to maximise each rep and b) because you want to avoid injury.

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