The Top 5 Reasons You Aren’t Building Muscle

If you’re hitting the gym but not seeing any results, these 5 things might be to blame.

Alyssa Atkinson
Jul 11 · 4 min read
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Photo by Andrew “Donovan” Valdivia on Unsplash

Time and time again, we are told that to lose weight, we need to do endless amounts of cardio and follow a restrictive diet. Unfortunately, this is a common trap that people fall into. Why? Because they’ve tried other approaches, and this is the only one they’ve seen a glimmer of success with. But, because it’s so unsustainable, the short term results never last.

In reality, transforming your body isn’t easy. There is no magic pill you can take to instantly become fitter. But, lifting weights and building muscle will help you transform your body over time, so long as you know what you’re doing. So, if you think you’re doing everything right, but you aren’t seeing any changes in your body, one of these five things could be the problem.

1. You’re Not Eating Enough

If you are trying to restrict your calories, you will not build any substantial muscle. This is because you need to be in a caloric surplus to build muscle.

Your body uses these extra calories to repair your muscles and help them grow stronger.

Now, I’m not saying you should go eat an entire carton of ice cream every day. You don’t want to be in a huge surplus, as that will likely make you gain excess fat. However, you do want to make sure you’re eating enough. So, listen to your body, and don’t be afraid to give it a little extra fuel after those hard lifting sessions.

2. You’re Doing the Wrong Exercises

If you’re a cardio bunny in the gym, then you have no chance of building significant muscle mass. Cardio exercise is great for burning calories and shedding fat, but it doesn’t do a whole lot for your physique.

If you want to gain muscle mass, you have to lift weights.

There’s no way around it. Lifting weights will break your muscles down so they can repair themselves and come back bigger and stronger. This will not only give you a more lean and toned look, but it will also help you feel more empowered and confident. So, if building muscle is your goal, don’t be afraid to ditch the treadmill and pump some iron.

3. Your Form Is Incorrect

If you are lifting weights with poor form, you won’t be putting the proper stress on the muscles you are supposed to be targeting. Therefore, you will not reap the benefits of the lift you are trying to perform.

Furthermore, you risk injuring yourself.

If you don’t know what you are doing, you could easily strain a muscle, which could sideline you from lifting for a while. Then, you’ll be even further from reaching your goals than when you started. So, make sure you nail down proper form to produce the best results.

4. You Don’t Challenge Yourself Enough

Our bodies are smart. When we break them down, they repair themselves and become stronger. They also become more efficient.

Eventually, if we stop challenging them in new ways, we could reach a fitness plateau, which means we start seeing decreased results from our typical workouts.

This concept applies to many aspects of fitness, but it’s especially true for muscle building. So, if you stop seeing results, try gradually increasing the amount of weight you’re lifting. If you started training a month ago and you’re still working with those 5-pound dumbbells, you probably aren’t challenging yourself enough.

5. Your Diet Is Terrible

If none of the above describes you, then maybe your diet is to blame. It could be that your muscle is there, it’s just hidden underneath a poor diet. While you need a caloric surplus to build muscle, you need a caloric deficit to burn fat.

Body builders use this knowledge to their advantage by getting stronger while eating excess calories, and then cutting calories to show off all the muscle they’ve gained.

And while they are on a more extreme end of the spectrum, we can still learn from this approach. As long as we work in a small deficit, and do not do so for a prolonged period, we too can reveal all the muscle we worked so hard to build. Then, we can get back to building more by increasing our calories and protein intake again.

All in all, building muscle comes down to nailing down your diet and exercise routine. If you want to get stronger, you have to commit to it, give it time, and follow the correct approach. If you can do all that and avoid the common mistakes mentioned, the results will come eventually.

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Alyssa Atkinson

Written by

Ohio U XC/Track alum. I love to run. I blog about food, health, lifestyle, etc. Tasty vegan recipes: nomeatfastfeet.com | YouTube: Alyssa Atkinson — Subscribe!

Runner's Life

Runner's Life is a publication for advice and stories from the intersection of running and life. By runners, for runners.

Alyssa Atkinson

Written by

Ohio U XC/Track alum. I love to run. I blog about food, health, lifestyle, etc. Tasty vegan recipes: nomeatfastfeet.com | YouTube: Alyssa Atkinson — Subscribe!

Runner's Life

Runner's Life is a publication for advice and stories from the intersection of running and life. By runners, for runners.

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