1. You keep “program hopping”.
If you’re changing program every few weeks, you’re also learning new exercises or re-learning some you haven’t done for months.
When your neuromuscular system learns or refreshes movement patterns, you’re getting primarily neuromuscular adaptations and not as many hypertrophy-related adaptations.
Until the neuromuscular adaptations are complete — which takes longer for completely new lifts than for old but unpractised lifts — you won’t be able to produce as much force as you could if you were already proficient with the exercise.
Lower force production usually means lesser perceived mechanical tension and, as a result, less hypertrophy (muscle growth).
2. You aren’t training hard enough.
For your muscle fibres to sense more mechanical tension (which seems to be the main driver of hypertrophy), you need to challenge yourself in every set.
If you’re not struggling to complete the last rep with proper form, your training is too easy to generate the mechanical tension required to create an effective muscle growth stimulus.
You’ll still grow more muscle than if you were sitting on the couch, but is the result worth your efforts, when you could gain more muscle in the same period of time simply by pushing yourself harder on each set?
3. You aren’t fuelling yourself properly.
You may be able to build muscle in a caloric deficit, but the process becomes much less efficient than if you were eating at maintenance or in a small surplus. If you’re always dieting, your gains will reflect this constant state of lower energy availability.
4. You aren’t sleeping well enough or long enough.
Inadequate sleep will make you lose more muscle than fat in a deficit, and compromise the anabolic environment needed to put on muscle mass even at maintenance calories.
Don’t sleep on this.
If you’re struggling with several of these problems, focus on them one at a time.
Thanks for reading. May you make the best gains.
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