Why so many fail to gain muscle (hypertrophy)

Why do so many people fail to gain muscle hypertrophy when they train so hard for so long?


Plain and simple.

Building muscle (muscle hypertrophy) is an expensive process in terms of how many calories your body has to use up to build the muscle and how much protein needs to be available.

Your body will not build muscle unless there is excessive energy (calories) and building blocks (protein). You must be in an anabolic state to grow muscle. Anabolic does not come from having a low body fat and low calories. It just doesn’t.

So many fail to build muscle either because a) they don’t train smart enough or b) they don’t eat hard enough. It’s usually diet that lets muscle building workouts go to waste.

They are scared of losing there six packs and refuse to put on some body fat to gain muscle. Muscle and fat come hand in hand for 99.9% of us that want build muscle without drugs, the natural bodybuilding way.


There are three exceptions that I can think of to this rule:


1) The newbie: the first time you ever lift weights is usually such a dramatic shift from your homeostatic state that your body will build a limited amount of muscle immediately. In all likelihood a beginners diet already had sufficient amounts of excessive protein and calories to build some muscle, after all, we live in a time of excess.

2) A specialisation routine. Robbing Peter to pay Paul. A trainee moves from training the entire body intensely to training just for maintenance on all but a specialised area of the body, say: from whole body to just arms. If your diet stays the same and you stop training whole body to a targeted area such as arms then you may find your body robs Peter to pay Paul. Protein that is stored in your other muscles may be “borrowed” to respond to the increased needs of your arms. Thus giving the illusion that you have grown new muscle without an increase in calories and or protein….this process could even happen on a  starvation diet.

3) Their hypertrophy workout was obnoxiously high in workload and so frequent that they never got a chance to recover and then when they do take a break their muscle suddenly start to grow from doing nothing…. They were breaking down faster than their bodies could build back up. It happens. Workload is not the primary stimulus to hypertrophy.  In other words: their workout is shit. I see a lot of people doing the same thing over and over without ever making progress. Don’t be that guy.


As winter is here, now is the time to up those calories, chow down on the protein and build some proper muscle. This is not an excuse to become a fat ass. If your body fat starts creeping up toward 20%, you’ve eaten a little too much too soon.

If you haven’t packed on any muscle this year then it’s time to up the calories for a while and give your body the fuel it needs to naturally build muscle mass. Come spring time you can steadily start to uncover the new muscle by dropping some body fat, slowly!

Brought to you buy your Epson & Surrey Personal Trainer: Richard Ham Williams..



Epsom and Surrey Personal Training.

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