There are 650 muscles in the human body. Whether you’re in the gym or not, push them to the limit, or don’t remember they exist, they work all the time. It is the muscles that help us breathe, eat, run and read.

Today we will talk about one of their varieties — skeletal muscles. The ones that should respond to the load and increase in volume. Why they do not grow — tells MedAboutMe.

How Muscle Building Works

It takes a few weeks or months for most people to see the first changes in muscle growth. Moreover, each organism is individual. His nervous system needs time to «activate» the necessary processes.

An important role in muscle growth is played by genetics, human hormonal levels, the initial volume of muscle fibers and their type.

After intense exercise, the body begins to repair muscle fibers that have been damaged. To do this, the synthesis of satellite cells (skeletal muscle precursor cells) is accelerated, which leads to hyperplasia, that is, an increase in myofibrils (muscle protein filaments). As a result of recovery, they become thicker and larger, creating the expected increase in muscle mass.

“The interesting thing is that according to recent studies, there are people who build muscle well, those who do it slowly or cannot build it at all. In the former, myofibril hypertrophy is 58% after each workout, and their satellite cells are activated by 23%. Those that build muscle heavily have only a 28% increase in myofibrils and only a 19% activation of satellite cells. And the last athletes have 0% in each case, ”says a clinical pharmacologist and nutritionist Karen Reed.

This study clearly shows that a person’s ability to build muscle is directly related to their ability to «activate» satellite cells.

Why don’t muscles grow?

Why don't muscles grow?

If everything is in order with the physiology, then the muscles may be inhibited in growth due to the fact that the appropriate conditions for this have not been created. And there are quite a few of them: proper nutrition, a competent training regimen, sufficient rest time and much more.

The most common mistakes that block muscle growth are below.

Reason 1: You don’t warm up before your workout

Fitness and health expert, author of several training books Robert Hicks says that a large number of people, coming to the gym, begin to lift weights without any prior preparation. They never do a warm-up and don’t even bother to do a few swings with their arms and legs.

At the same time, in 2015 british Journal of Sports Medicine published a systematic review investigating the effects of upper body warm-up on performance and injury proneness. As a result, it turned out that high-intensity dynamic warm-ups significantly improve strength indicators, reaction speed and performance, and reduce the risk of injury.

Reason 2: You are competing in rep speed.

There is always a person in the gym who seems to want to set a record by doing the most repetitions per unit of time. But if your goal is to build muscle mass, then doing so is a big mistake.

In order for the muscles to increase in volume, they must receive a good load and microdamage, due to the restoration of which there will be an increase in mass. Too fast repetitions do not give the proper load to the muscles. For them to work, they must be energized. A study published in journal Physiologyshowed that slow lifting movements performed to fatigue resulted in a greater increase in the rate of muscle protein synthesis than the same movements performed quickly.


Fitness trainer Kemo Marriott advises lifting weights according to the 2-1-3 scheme. This means that you should lift the weights for 2 seconds, then take a 1 second break and lower the weights for 3 seconds.

Reason 3: You’re Not Doing Enough Reps

Reason 3: You're Not Doing Enough Reps

If you want to build muscle that you can be proud of Dwayne Johnsonyou will have to work hard. Although at the initial stage there is a limit of possibilities, in the future it moves further and further.

“Once you learn how to take heavy loads in good shape, you need to think about complicating the training — lifting weights until serious fatigue appears, experimenting with 6-12 repetitions,” explains the fitness trainer Kemo Marriott.

Reason 4: You are not motivated

As mentioned above, muscles grow slowly, but this is not a reason to give up. To see the first results, you will have to work hard and maintain motivation. It can be joint training with the same novice bodybuilders or classes in the company of more advanced athletes.

Good results are obtained by choosing the right workout playlist, and many people underestimate it. Meanwhile, in a study published in Journal of Strength and Conditioning, listening to music at a tempo of 130 to 140 beats per minute has been shown to increase an athlete’s performance during intense exercise.

Reason 5: You don’t think about muscles

Recent studies by scientists demonstrate a direct connection between the muscles and the human mind. It may sound fantastic, but if the athlete focuses on the muscles they are working with during the load, they push harder and give better results.

Thus, the study cited European Journal of Applied Physiologyshowed that gym goers who focused on their chest muscles while doing the bench press improved exercise performance.

Reason 6: You don’t get enough rest

Reason 6: You don't get enough rest

Given the fact that muscles grow only during rest — that is, their recovery, not only work in the gym matters, but also quality rest.

If an athlete trains too often, gives a daily load to the same muscle group, muscle fibers will not have time to recover, and therefore grow in volume. But what’s even worse is that the wrong training regimen can, on the contrary, destroy the muscles that you have worked so hard to increase.


Fitness expert Robert Hicks advises to follow the rule: after a hard exhausting workout, for example, on the muscles of the chest, wait at least 48 hours before training the same muscles again.

Reason 7: You do the same thing every day

Fitness trainer Jess Allen says that many athletes love a certain list of exercises — for example, squats, lunges, overhead presses and others, and therefore repeat them day after day.

“But our muscles quickly adapt to physical stress. By changing the program of your training, you can give different loads to the muscles, therefore, each time include them in the work, increase the volume, ”explains the expert.

Reason 8: You are afraid to gain weight

If an athlete has “taken” a certain load for a long time and only repeats it every time, without striving for an increase, it stops working for him.

“Additional load on the muscles is necessary for their growth and development,” says the fitness trainer Jess Allen. — Remember the rule: if the first and 10 repetitions of the exercise are equally easy for you, you need to increase the load by taking more weights. They will allow you to better work out the same muscles in the same time.

Reason 9: You don’t want to try HITT workouts

Reason 9: You don't want to try HITT workouts

If all these tips have already been worked out, and there was no increase in muscle mass, it’s time to move to a new level — high intensity training. They are called HIIT workouts. And they can be practiced even in such a delicate matter as muscle building.

According to a study published in the journal physiological reports, Low-rep HIIT weight training increased strength and muscle mass better than high-rep, moderate-intensity workouts. Change your program and you will see the result.

Expert comment

Alexey Koshuba, World, European and Russian champion in powerlifting, twice world record holder. Trainer-consultant

Why muscles refuse to grow can be for many reasons.

Let’s start with the most obvious ones and work our way up from simple to complex ones.

Reason 1: malnutrition

Nutritional deficiencies are one of the most common causes. The athlete poorly calculated his calorie intake and has few proteins and carbohydrates in his diet.

Solution: make the right diet, taking into account all the characteristics of your body.

Reason 2: Accelerated Metabolism

Everything that an athlete eats, he digests very quickly.

Solution: increase in calories. This can be done by including an additional meal.

Reason 3: Mistakes in training

Most often, an athlete does little basic exercises such as deadlifts, squats with a barbell, classic barbell bench press, snatches and jerks while standing. And he is engaged in so-called grinding, trains his arms, shoulders, a little back and chest. You can do isolation exercises that do little to increase testosterone production.

Solution: oput aside all isolation exercises and do hard work with heavy weights. It can even be pure powerlifting and weightlifting. The best exercises are sumo and classic deadlifts, squats with different leg positions, barbell presses at different angles lying down, snatches and jerks of the barbell while standing. These exercises maximize the production of testosterone and build muscle mass. The main thing, as many people want to do, is quickly!

Reason 4: running

Who runs a lot, in that muscle mass will grow poorly. After all, when running, hormones are released that destroy muscle tissue.

Solution: pstop running and, if aerobic exercise is important to you, then at least reduce it and switch to walking. When walking, muscle tissue remains intact and this will save your muscles.

Reason 5: failure in the hormonal system

It often happens with problems with the thyroid gland, when an athlete does not gain muscle mass well.

Solution: pCheck your body for hormonal disorders and normalize hormones under medical supervision. As soon as the balance is found, then the muscle mass of such athletes begins to grow. What is important is high-quality muscle mass. Since thyroid hormones are known to have a fat-burning regimen. Therefore, you will be able to build high-quality muscle mass without fat.

These are the main reasons for poor muscle mass gain. All other reasons will be less important than those listed. Good luck in building muscle and maintaining and increasing your health!

The effect of training volume and intensity on improvements in muscular strength and size in resistance-trained men / The effect of training volume and intensity on improvements in muscular strength and size in resistance-trained men // Physiol Rep. 2015


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