5 Reasons Why You’re Not Growing!
So maybe your quest for gaining size and mass is in its infancy, or perhaps you're at the stage where you’re seeing major gains, or frustratingly…you might have hit a plateau! Now each of these phases require subtly different approaches, but the general underlying facts remain the same.
1.) You’re in a calorie deficit: You might have spent time using our calorie counting equation in order to establish what your nutritional requirements might be. This is integral to your quest for the acquisition of mass, but the problem is this…as you grow, your nutritional requirements change! So many of us see gains in weight, but then hit a plateau and wonder why. The more muscle you gain the higher your nutritional requirements become, consequently you need to consume more to invoke more growth!
2.) Your body is becoming complacent: You might have heard of the term ‘shocking the body’ which is when a training routine is deliberately changed in order to induce change. If the body is only ever exposed to the same stressors then inevitably it will get comfortable meaning it will not signal the growth of more muscle fibres etc because the current muscle is already fit for purpose. Change the intensity at which you train once every 3-4 weeks (this may depend on your goals) and adapt exercises, reduce rest times and change the dynamics of your session to minimise plateaus.
3.) Too much Cardio: Cardiovascular exercise is a viable part of any fitness routine, but when it comes to gaining size and mass, too much could be holding you back. So what is too much? Well Jay Cutler (3x Mr Olympia) spends approx 1 hour on a cross trainer when cutting and defining, but what stops him from shrinking is the intensity at which he does it. Jay works at around 50% of his maximal heart rate; this is known as the target zone and puts the body in the optimum fat burning state. Establish what your maximal heart rate is and half it, for an average 80kg male this might be around the 70-80bpm mark, perform a 20-60min cardio session whilst sipping some amino’s and burn that fat, whilst preserving that muscle.
4.) Could you be overtaining: Ask yourself the question…could I be overtraining? 9 times out of 10 you probably you are!! So many of us lose ourselves in our training, are disciplined with our resistance training, deliberate and conscientious with our diet, and yet, see no gains in size! Your body is clawing away at its reserves, your Glycogen and amino acid pool is drained, your stress hormones such as cortisol are elevated, and your growth hormone and testosterone levels are depleted. Maybe you’re feeling low in energy, irritable, low in mood and you’re coming down with every cold or bug known to man! The answer is you’re probably overreaching and/or overtraining. Check my article on counteracting and minimising overtraining syndrome for more information.
5.) Your Macro’s might not be balanced: Optimal ratio’s for macronutrients (Protein, Carbs and Fat) are integral to general health and wellbeing, but even more emphasis is placed on this key aspect of nutrition when the target is the acquisition of muscle! The Food Standards Agency (2008) recommend that 50% of your calories come from carbs, 35% from fat and 15% from protein. In order to favourably shift this macro ratio to muscle building, try a 40% carbs, 30% fat and 30% protein ratio. For an average 2500kcal diet, this would equate to approx 1000kcal from carbs, 750kcal from fat and 750kcal from protein.