penny barnshaw garage fitness girl

5 Reasons You’re Not Building Muscle


For many women who care about their health and fitness, one of their goals is to build muscle. Building muscle is no easy feat, regardless of your genetic makeup and build, and it doesn’t happen without serious planning and know-how! It can be frustrating for people who feel as though they’re stuck in the same place.

The good news is, you definitely can build muscle. You just have to stop doing the things that hinder your progress!

Below are the 5 reasons you’re not building muscle:

#1 You’re not eating enough

If you are starving your body, you cannot expect it to build muscle! Not eating enough is one of the main causes of not being able to build muscle, and also, not eating enough of the right food. There’s a lot of information about the importance of protein, but carbs are just as important when it comes to muscle growth. While you don’t need a lot of fats, they do need to be included in your diet as they’re an important macronutrient, and they also help you absorb many of the micronutrients in your food. Eat smart with whole foods such as fruit, vegetable, low GI carbs like sweet potato, and lean meats.

#2 You’re not using progressive overload 

You need to alter your workouts depending on your goals. If you want to build muscle, there’s no point in getting the lightest weight possible and doing loads of reps. You’ll need to target strength training and consistently push yourself to lift heavier, not more. Make sure that you maintain proper form so that you don’t injure yourself, and it’s OK to progress slowly, but do make sure you’re increasing those weights. Record the weights you’re lifting in your strength training workouts and try to increase it slightly every month, if it feels safe to do so.

#3 You’re not sticking to a program

If you’re not sticking to a program, any strength gains you make aren’t sticking around long enough for you to start using progressive overload! If your aim is to build muscle, make sure you’re doing strength training 2-3 times a week.

#4 You’re not getting enough rest

Don’t expect your body to make muscle gains if you’re not looking after it! Recovery is so important when it comes to muscle growth. In order to effectively recharge, a general rule of thumb is to aim for 8 hours of sleep per night. Everyone is different, so I highly recommend listening to your body. Just as important as getting enough sleep of an evening, is taking a day off to relax those muscles. Take your recovery days seriously, doing extra will not result in extra gains if you’re not getting adequate rest.

#5 You’re doing to much cardio

While cardio is great for heart health and I highly recommend you incorporate it into your routine, it’s important not to do too much cardio when your aim is to gain muscle. While cardio workouts do burn fat, they can actually slow down the development of muscle mass if they’re performed too frequently. If you are looking to both lose weight and gain muscle, it’s best to integrate HIIT cardio sessions into your workout. The short and intense exercises get your heart rate up and help maintain and continue muscle growth.

If you’re interested in building muscle, check out my 5 day Strength Series to get you started.

If you’re interested in HIIT workouts so that you can combine fat burning with muscle growth, check out the range of HIIT workouts with weights on my Youtube channel.

I hope this blog helps you with building muscle on your fitness journey. Please remember to make sure you’re eating enough, to utilise progressive overload, stay consistent, get enough rest and don’t overdo the cardio! Let me know how you go!

If you’d like to do more follow-along workouts with me, make sure you subscribe to my YouTube channel and tick the notification bell, so you never miss a new workout. You can also sign up for workout calendars that I send out for free every month, and feel free to follow me on Instagram and Facebook where I share loads of new workouts and ideas.

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