Why am I not building muscle?

This is a question I often hear at the gym. I often see a lot of people going to the gym and working their butts off but still no results.Then they become discouraged and think maybe it wold never happen for them.

This is why I am here to help! I will explain to you how easy building muscle can be and how it can be possible for you and for anybody.There are just a couple principles that you must follow. I will discuss these principles in the following paragraphs.


First of all a compound lift is an exercise where you work multiple muscles at once. So the squats work the quads, hamstrings, glutes and also the core, or the bench press might work the chest, shoulders and triceps or the barbell row might work the back, biceps and core. Those are compound lifts and it is a vital part of gym training as it helps us to get stronger and also to build muscles.It is a very important pat of training and should not be skipped.

I often see a lot of people doing isolation exercises alone in the gym. Isolation exercises are great to help further increase the training stimulus on the muscle so they can grow.

Isolation exercises are also vital for muscle growth. It helps to work one specific muscle group. Like for example, a lat pull down would work the latissimus dorsi or the lats which are your back muscles, or a bicep curl would work your biceps. One specific muscle group.

I often see people doing isolation exercises alone but no compounds, this is a mistake as the compound lifts train more than on muscle groups and are essential to muscle growth as well. I recommend doing both compounds and isolation exercises when training. You can do compounds first and then do your isolation lifts after.This is so because compounds require more energy.

So for leg day you can do squats first then maybe hip thrust or leg press which are compound lifts then you can do leg extensions and hamstring curls for isolation which would help to break down the muscle fibres further for muscle growth. Or for chest day you can do bench press and then do exercises like the chest press machine or the pec deck machine for isolation.


Progressive overload is the gradual increase in the amount of weight one lifts in resistance training or weight training.This principle involves slowly increasing demands on the musculoskeletal system for you to continually make size and strength gains.

Progressive overload is one of the most important training principles if not the most important one. If you keep training a specific way without increasing the difficulty gradually in one way or the other you will become stuck meaning there will be no change or no growth and you will be stuck in your training. There will be no improvement.There are multiple ways in which you can incorporate progressive overload.

You can either increase in small amounts of weight in a lift every 2-3 weeks. So for example if right now you can bench press 135lbs for 4 sets of 6 reps, then 2-3weeks from now try to bench press 140 for 4 sets of 6 reps. Or if you squat 225lbs for 6 reps of 4 sets , 2-3 weeks after try 230lbs for 6 reps. I suggest a 5lb increase every 2-3 weeks.Increase when you feel comfortable.The 5lbs increase will get you stronger slowly and also help build muscle. If you want more strength use then 3-6 rep range, if you want more size use the 6-8 rep range.

You can also use progressive overload by increasing the number of sets. So if you do 3 sets of squats currently, you can add a extra set and do 4 sets which is greater for muscle gains especially.

Another way is reducing rest time. When you reduce rest time your body is placed under pressure where it must recover faster. It means it will be able to recover faster using a specific weight and if you can recover faster that means you have gotten stronger.So instead of resting for 4-5 minutes after a set try to rest 2-3 minutes. If you are doing really heavy compounds I suggest you rest until you feel comfortable for the next set because you do not want to risk injury.

I personally use the 5lb increase method for progressive overload for my compound lifts and I have gotten stronger by a vast amount and for the isolation I may throw in an extra set and try to reduce my rest time. So I incorporate progressive overload in my entire training.


One thing I see a lot of people do, is that they train really hard in the gym but they never track what they consume.Food is essential in getting the body you want, it is not the enemy. As we know food consists of what we call calories. Calories is the amount of energy that food possess. Our body also burns calories to obtain energy for us to do daily activities. In order to gain muscles we must consume more calories than we burn daily.

This is so because we must push pass the current boundaries of our bodies in order to grow.The only way to do this is to be in a calorie surplus.. So if you burned 2500 calories today and you consumed 2800 calories in food. The 2500 calories from the 2800 will go to providing the body with the energy it needs, because your body burned 2500 so it needs energy to fuel 2500 calories. The other 300 calories will go to growth of your muscles.

I must warn you that when in a calorie surplus you will also gain some fat. The amount of fat depends on the amount of calories you consume.But it is worth the risk because you must be in a calorie surplus to gain muscles.If you consume 300-500 extra calories daily you will gain weight at a slow and gradual weight which is really good. But if you go over 500 calories, let’s say 700 calories you will gain weight really quickly.

I suggest you choose a specific bodyweight that you would like to reach when in a calorie surplus, after reaching that body weight you can then shred down to get rid of body fat which I will explain how to do in a later post.

To calculate daily calories , you must take your bodyweight in lbs and multiply it by the numbers 14-16.So if you had a very lazy day and did nothing for the day except stay in bed or lay on the couch multiply your bodyweight by 14.

If part of your day was busy which meant you had a bit of walking around to do and then the other part of the day you stayed on the couch or you sat most of the day multiply your bodyweight by 15.

If you had a really busy day where you had lots of walking around to do multiply your bodyweight by 16.

After calculating the numbers , the number you get is the average calories your burned for that day, you then want to consume 300-500 calories over that everyday in order to build muscle.


Protein is essential for the growth and maintenance of muscle tissues. Without adequate amount of protein your muscles will struggle to grow or to maintain the muscle you already have. From this you can see the importance of food when training in the gym.

Some of the great bodybuilders believed that they must consume about 1 gram of protein for each gram of bodyweight. Meaning if you weigh 150 lbs you must consume 150 grams of protein. Although this would be essential for muscle growth consuming less than your bodyweight is still okay.

It is still very much okay to consume about 20-30 grams of protein below your bodyweight. It has worked for me as well as has worked for many others.

Most of us including myself cannot consume our bodyweight or near our bodyweight of protein from the food we eat alone. I personally weigh 175lbs and it is quite tough for me to consume close to that amount from food alone. This is where supplements come into play.

If you know that the food you eat that you are unable to consume that much protein then I recommend taking protein supplements.Any of the supplements that contain Whey Protein is very safe to take. If you are interested in purchasing protein at a cheap price click here.


Sleep is one very important aspect especially if you want to build muscle in the gym. Without sleep our muscles wouldn’t grow.

The growth and repair of muscles take place in our sleep as it is when our body is at rest.I know a lot of us are very busy with work and school and even family and that cause us to get less sleep.

But lack of sleep causes us to have less energy in the gym for the next day so we are unable to train at our best. I personally get 6 hours of sleep for the very least, anything less than that will greatly affect your muscle and strength gains and as a matter of fact lack of sleep may cause us to lose muscle as well.

So we must try to aim for 6 to 7 hours of sleep for the very least. Even if you cannot get 6 to 7 hours of sleep try to atleast get a power nap in during the day, it will help with your energy levels as well with your muscle gains.



If you follow the specific solutions i left for you, I guarantee you will gain muscle. Some of us may gain faster while some of us may gain at a slower rate. But I guarantee you will gain muscle.

For those of you that are really interested in gaining muscle as quickly as possible I recommend buying and taking this supplement.

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18 thoughts on “Why am I not building muscle?”

  1. I use On whey double rich chocolate pp to gain some muscle and its been really useful, I have had some back issues and i was using some bad techniques for my back exercises.

    I hang on to yoga and gym for a better physique and health now. Sleeping is still and issue as i tend to hang on with social media late night but i’m working on it. Very informative post i look forward to your blogs.

    Sujit Maharjan

    1. Hey Sujit yoga does the body really well especially when you have aches and pains I personally do yoga a lot as well. And for the trouble sleeping at night,I tend to do strength training, it helps to put me to sleep like a baby. Goodluck in your training!

  2. I have to say, you have a ton of great information in here. I have been trying to figure out what I am doing wrong. I consistently go to the gym, but I think ultimately it comes down to nutrition for me. I don’t always eat enough food or the right foods. I am also getting older and I don’t sleep nearly as well as I used to. You have given me some great things to think about. Is there a way I can reach out to you directly if I have any questions?

    1. Hey steve ! Food is essential to getting stronger and building muscle at the gym, without the right nutrition we can make no gains, so ensure your nutrition is up to par. Are you a member of wealthy affiliate? If you are you can always pm me and I can always give you tips

  3. Thank you for sharing a great article.

    I have been working out for months and I did keep asking myself the question “Why am I not building muscle?” and your article has given me lots of ideas as to what I was doing wrong and how to correct it.

    I had got comfortable with the weights and I was not increasing the difficulty and what you say about gradually increasing the weights now makes sense to me.

    I don’t usually take supplements as I try to eat well however I can now see the point in taking supplements.

    I think it’s time for a new gym routine and let’s see the results in 3 months! 🙂

    1. Thank your for reading my article!
      I promise once you follow the principles that I have listed out,you will surely gain some muscle.
      And yes gradually increasing the weights will get you both physically bigger and stronger.
      I recommend only taking supplements if you need to but if you can get enough protein from your diet then no need for supplements.
      Goodluck in the gym!

  4. In my personal training days as a personal trainer, that was a question I was asked often. Many of these people wanted to build muscles would also restrict their diet.

    Most of them would cut out the protein which is really essential for muscle building. But I do like that you’ve touched upon compound exercises. Many people think that the machines are where the muscle work is going to be done, sometimes it’s our own bodyweight that helps to build muscles.

    1. You’re indeed right I see a lot of people skipping the compound lifts and doing only isolations and expecting muscle growth.They don’t realize the importance of the compound lifts or even the importance of the diet in muscle growth!Thanks for reading!

  5. Wow! What an enlightening article! Thank you so much Daniel! I am one of these people who tried going to the gym, and doing weights but gave up because I was not gaining any muscle.

    Now I know it is because I have not been doing it right, and not eating right. Compound lifts and progressive overload. I had no idea. Now I know. Thanks so much. I will do my weight training better now.

    Regarding diet, I am in my mid 50s, and I find I can’t eat as much as I used to when I was younger. I read in your article that we should eat more and also more protein. How do I compensate if my body does not want to consume more food?

    1. I think it is really great that you are mid 50s and still trying to go to the gym! As for the eating if you cannot eat 3 big meals I recommend probably trying to eat about 5 meals but smaller in size and see if that works or you can probably have 3 meals and snack on something twice for the day. Also at your age I recommend trying to keep your protein intake pretty high if you are trying to build muscle.Goodluck and thanks for reading!

  6. Great tips. Building muscle requires compound movements and good sleep. I often see people doing isolation only, but I really believe this does not do well in muscle building. Keep up. This is helpful.

    1. A mixture of the compound and the isolation is vital to muscle growth, some people do compounds alone while some only do isolations.Thanks for reading!

  7. Hi~ Great information! I have bought weights and an olympic bar so as to save time travelling to the gym and waiting for the equipment. I am doing 5×5 for a couple of months but I did not see much results in terms of my muscle gain both visually and with weighing machine. I think the calories intake and sleep is my enemy… Have always find it hard to consume more calories than I needed and due to my work schedule, I usually only get 5 hours of sleep… Any advice?

    1. A 5×5 is a really good rep and set range for size and strength.But are you using progressive overload?Are you adding 5lbs every2-3weeks? If not I recommend doing that to get stronger as well as bigger. If your calories are a bit low I recommend really trying to commit more to your diet because without it your muscles would not grow.And I know it can be really tough with a busy schedule to catch up on sleep but what you can do if you can is probably try to take some power naps if you can.I really hope this helps!

  8. So many useful tips here. Thanks. I seldom do gym. I only do cardio exercises. But my friends advised me to do more gym. Now I know that both compound and the isolation are important for muscle growth. And I notice that many people in my city don’t have enough sleep when they build their muscles. Some of them are vegan. I think protein is quite important to help you build muscles.

    1. A mixture of cardio and weights will help you greatly in your overall body health. I recommend doing both throughout the week and you will see wonders in your total body fitness. Also keep your diet and rest up to par as well. Goodluck! Thanks for reading!

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