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6 Reasons You’ve STOPPED Building Muscle, Part I

Posted by Joel Marion

As promised, Vince and I are back  to go over some of the biggest misconceptions surrounding the topic of building muscle, and several BIG reasons why your current weight training regimen isn’t leading to the lean muscle gains your after.  Part I of this article will cover 3 reasons, and then we’ll be back tomorrow with 3 more.  Enjoy!

6 Reasons You’ve STOPPED Building Muscle, Part I
By Joel Marion and Vince Del Monte

Training your butt off but not really getting anywhere?  Put on “some” muscle, but can’t seem to add any more?  Simply not progressing fast enough?  If you can relate to any of those scenarios, then you’re going to love this 2 part article as we’re getting ready to unleash six BIG reasons why you’ve stopped building muscle.

Reason #1: Lack of Frequency

The old adage of training a muscle once per week to allow for recovery is DEAD.  If you’re not training a muscle multiple times each week, you’re simply NOT going to make optimal gains, period.

But, let’s go back and dissect the “reasoning” of this whole philosophy.

If you train, and train hard, you’re likely to get sore.  Conventional wisdom tells you that you should wait until you’re no longer sore to train again.  Unfortunately, conventional wisdom is faulty here.

You see, if you don’t train your body to improve it’s recovery capacity by training when you’re sore, then you’re body has no reason to improve it’s recovery capacity.

Want to train a muscle 3 times per week and reap double or triple gains?  Then you need to teach your body to recover faster by training more frequently.

Beyond that, let’s further bury the myth that training a muscle while sore hampers recovery.

  • Nosaka K, Clarkson P.M. Muscle damage following repeated bouts of high force eccentric exercise. Med. Sci. Sports Exrc., 27(9):1263-1269,1995.
  • Smith LL., Fuylmer MG., Holbert D., McCammon MR., Houmard JA., Frazer DD., Nsien E., Isreal RG. The impact of repeated bout of eccentric exercise on muscular strength, muscle soreness and creatine kinase. Br J Sp Med 28(4):267-271, 1994.
  • T.C. Chen, Taipei Physical Education College, and S.S. Hsieh, FACSM,. The effects of a seven-day repeated eccentric training on recovery from muscle damage. Med. Sci. Sports Exrc. 31(5 Supp) pp. S71, 1999.

All 3 of these studies came to the same conclusion:  training a sore muscle does NOT adversely affect recovery.  In fact, when done properly, doing so can actually speed up the recovery process by shuttling nutrient rich blood to recuperating muscle tissue.

Here’s the deal:  The more frequently you can stimulate a muscle to grow, the more it will grow.  Sounds simple, and it is.

One small caveat, however:  obviously when upping training frequency you can potentially run in to the problem of “overreaching” or burning yourself out.  The important thing is to listen to your body and train as frequently as possible.  If you’re motivated to train and feel “good”, then have at it.

Reason #2: You’re muscles don’t have enough “room” to grow

Huh?  Not enough “room”?  Allow us to explain.

All muscle is bound by connective tissue called fascia, which surrounds individual muscle fibers (endomysium), groups of fibers (perimysium), and entire muscles (epimysium).  This fascia tissue is continuous with the tendon and functions to conduct the forces generated by the contractile proteins actin and myosin through the tendon, to the bone.

Here’s the problem: these “protective coverings” that surround all muscle tissue lack elasticity.  Meaning, when a muscle grows and fills the “bag”, trying to shove more muscle into the same size bag becomes difficult.

Think of a hot water bottle that holds 16 ounces of water.  Now fill it with 20 ounces of water.  Go ahead; do it!

What do you mean you can’t?

You see, no matter how hard you try to fit 20 ounces into a 16 ounce hot water bottle, it aint gonna happen, not unless you somehow stretch the bottle so it can hold more water.

Well, it’s the same thing with fascia tissue; it can only hold in so much muscle, and when the lining gets full, the rate of growth is dramatically decreased.

Enter “regulatory feedback”.

Essentially, you very well may be stimulating your muscles to grow through proper diet and training, but if the surrounding fascia tissue is not expanding at the same rate, you can bet your bottom dollar that your brain will respond by putting the kabosh on growth.

Fortunately, there are several things you can do to “stretch” this fascia tissue and avoid this form of regulatory feedback — we’ll teach you those in another article this week.

Reason #3: Muscular Imbalances

While we’re on the topic of regulatory feedback, it’s fitting to address another major initiator of R.F. activity, and that’s muscular imbalances.

Simply put, your body wants things to be symmetrical and even, and when they aren’t, it will prevent further adaptations from taking place that will ultimately throw things even further out of whack.

For example, let’s say your training is full of pressing movements, which has caused your chest to experience significant growth.  On the other hand, you don’t do a whole lot for your back…no rowing or heavy pulling movements, leaving your back rather weak and underdeveloped.

The body’s response:  no more growth until you bring your back up to speed.

And this is true across the board, over virtually all muscle groups.

Have you ever seen someone with huge biceps and puny triceps?  No, it simply doesn’t happen because your body doesn’t let it happen.


One is the issue of injury.  Large pecs and an underdeveloped back put a huge strain and pull on the back and result in poor posture and ultimately injury, especially if things were to get really out of whack (which the body won’t allow).

The other is the issue of symmetry.  It’s almost as if your body wants to prevent you from looking like a moron.  Thank you, body.  It won’t let your biceps grow too much beyond your triceps, even if you work your biceps every day.

Bottom line:  you need to correct imbalances to prevent regulatory feedback from stopping you dead in your tracks.  We’ll share some strategies for correcting imbalances in another article later in the week.

Wrap Up

In yesterday’s article, we talked about why YOU want muscle.

In today’s article, we discussed several reasons why you may not be getting it as fast as you want it.

Bottom line, there ARE things holding you back, and in order to achieve your goals you need to understand and learn how to correct each one.  If you don’t, it’s going to be a long, frustrating road, and that’s the last thing we want to see you deal with.

As mentioned, in another article this week we’re going to provide practical and strategic solutions for all the “problems” mentioned in this 2 part article.  Today we covered 3 biggies, and in Part II (tomorrow) we’ve got 3 more coming your way.

Until then, train hard and train smart.

Joel and Vince

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58 comments - add yours
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@Craig – could you explain what does it mean by “eat at maintenance with a 30/50/20 macro split p/c/f” I am not very good at this…

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Quote: All 3 of these studies came to the same conclusion: training a sore muscle does NOT adversely affect recovery. In fact, when done properly, doing so can actually speed up the recovery process by shuttling nutrient rich blood to recuperating muscle tissue.

You’re right: training a sore muscle does help recovery. But, I feel the key here is to avoid training at the same intensity as what gave rise to the problem. For instance changing to a new exercise for the same body part can lead to excruciating soreness. What would help is to do the new mvt at a fraction of the intensity, so as to enable localised blood circulation to flush out the lactic acid build up from the previous session.

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I agree with #1 IF you are doing eccentric type workouts and moderate weights. If you are working with heavy weights to failure and negatives, then #1 becomes false due to the hammered CNS.

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Thank you for your information. It is very helpful. I have abused my body to the extreme for years with every quick fix diet and diet pill on the market,(and in excess doses) until I hit menopause slap bang in the middle of it. Nothing worked anymore not even pure ephedrine. Not only did I mess up my hormones but my pancreas, liver, gallbladder and kidneys were busy shutting down. As I am an extremist and don’t believe in doctors and antibiotics, I had to wake up and find healthy, alternative ways to fix my body.I started excersizing and eat healthyier but is not sure if I do it correctly and if it works for me.Therefore I would love to win a copy of your extreme fat loss diet system. I am frustrated and feel horrible with all the fat and weight I picked up.It is the first time I realize how my body works for the good of me if I take care of it.

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Hello! Quick question that’s completely off topic. Do you know how to make your site mobile friendly? My site looks weird when browsing from my iphone 4. I’m trying to find a theme or plugin that might be able to resolve this problem. If you have any suggestions, please share. With thanks!

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