Why can’t I gain muscle when I’m eating 500 calories over my BMR, and working out 3 times per week with compound exercises?

The art of building muscle is a complex yet easy format. Each and every one of us must experiment with different styles of training, in order to determine what will work. Usually, most of us respond pretty well with the basics, but there are some tricks and tips that you can use to enhance your ability to build muscle a lot faster. It will be hard to pinpoint exactly what the problem is here, but seeing as you are eating more calories, we must determine if those calories are being converted to stored body fat. If it is not, then you may need to alter your training programs, and maybe increase some of your macronutrient thresholds. Let’s delve into this a bit deeper.

5 hypotrophy strategies for those of us that are hard gainers

  1. Do not do any cardio whatsoever.
    One important thing about gaining muscle, is that intense or even steady state cardio can impede your progress a lot. It goes in a couple of directions. The first one is that it burns muscle for energy, then increases fat stores. You will feel much like being on a sea saw that keeps swaying to the gains, and then the losses, and then increase of body fat. This is a very real situation for many people. If you are the kind of person that may eventually down the line, want to decrease body fat, then save your energy for HIIT. You may not even need this, but this is your best option for cardio. The second one is low impact walking, preferably outdoors or on a treadmill. This is it! No running, no jogging and nothing too intense that could see you gain those muscular gains. Focus on weight training now.
  2. Eat enough macros- and more if you need to.
    Seeing as you may be burning a tone of calories, I would suggest you keep a protein shake to have immediately after training. The protein shake will help you get that extra dose you need, since you probably wont be near any food. This is not a meal supplement, it’s an add on after training.
    Then I would recommend you have a protein shake just before bed. This increases protein synthesis during the night, inhibiting any catabolizing of muscles whilst you sleep.
    You should be consuming 1.5g pr protein per kg of body weight. If this is not working for you after a couple of months, add more.
  3. Are you eating enough carbs.
    Carbs should be your best buddy, seeing as you are lean, plus they lower cortisol post workout, whilst restoring muscle glycogen, minimising the breakdown of protein. Start with regular amounts, and increase if it does not become enough. Do focus on those high quality carbs, and eliminate anything processed or refined. They will not add to your muscular gains in any way.
  4. Are your reps too low?
    In order to build muscle mass, we need to make sure that enough reps are being performed. Heavy, low reps are useful if you want to build strength. If you want to get bigger, and faster, you must alternate your training cycles between low reps (4–8) with a cycle of moderate repetitions (9–12). It’s also a great idea to throw in some high set reps (20–50). This is an awesome shock to our nervous system, prompting growth. It’s important to keep alternating the stimulus for the best possible growth.
  5. I would try twice a day training.
    My ultimately best advice for faster growth is to train twice a day. In the mornings, lift heavy and use compound movements. In the evening, train with isolated exercises. For example, squats and leg presses in the morning, and then leg extensions and calf raises in the evening. Start of small, perhaps with 30–40 minute sessions, then progress to one hour. Anything above this time is counter productive. Allow at least 6 hours in between your sessions, and please DO become more aware of your nutritional needs when doing this. You really need to be extra mindful of how much extra calories you need to consume. This is where the protein shake comes in handy as well. Try this kind of training once per month, then increase to 2. I can’t wait to try this again during the Christmas and NY break. It is tough, but completely worth it for the results you will receive.
  6. Bonus tip.
    Now, one thing I have used for many years, and recommend you do as well, is take BCAA before training. Start off with once per day, and increasing it to after training as well. This will stop muscle from catabolizing, and aid in your recovery period – especially when you are training twice a day. This is the only supplement i take, and it’s worked for me and many others.

I do hope this helps you to accumulate some strategies for much more growth. Let me know if I can help you in any way.

W: Visit to connect with me F: Ange Dim I: Ange Dim (@angedim10)

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