Hey guys, this is Cori from Redefining Strength. Welcome to the Fitness Hacks Podcast. This is the show where I share all my free workout and nutrition tips. I’m not going to ever fill this episode with sponsorships or ask you to buy anything. All I ask in return is if you’re enjoying the podcast to leave a review or leave a five star rating or even better share with someone you think it might help. This will only take a few minutes and would mean the world to me and possibly change the life of someone you know. So let’s jump right in.

So you want to see those muscle gains. Well, I’m going to talk about 15 reasons why you might not be seeing the results that you want, because there’s nothing more frustrating than feeling like you’re working really hard to not see the results snowball in the way that you feel that they should. And while effort doesn’t always equal outcome, there are lots of practices we often clinging to that we think are good, that we’ve heard are good for our health that helped us lose the weight that are actually sabotaging us moving towards another goal. Because what worked for one goal, what worked in one stage of life doesn’t mean it’ll be right for another stage, another goal. And often what even worked for one goal might hold us back from achieving another, especially when it comes to weight loss. So if you’ve done some of these practices to lose the weight and you’re a little scared to let go of them, I’m going to tell you, you might have to if you now want to focus on gaining muscle.

And there are ways to gain muscle without gaining fat, and it’s all about the systems working together. So I want to touch on 15 reasons you might not be seeing the results you want and what you should really focus on. So number one, you are not eating enough. It’s scary when we’ve lost the weight to first come out of that deficit because we’re going to see the scale increase because we’re no longer deficient in anything. You’re going to see those glycogen stores become full, and that means you’re going to gain some water weight. You are not gaining fat, but because you are no longer depleted from being in the deficit, you’re going to see a little scale increase. This is why the process of retraining your body to eat more needs to be done slowly. But if you clinging to that calorie deficit, if you clinging to trying to eat less and you fear that scale going up, you are not going to see the muscle gains that you want.

And the scariest part about all that is that as you see the scale increase, you might even need to increase your calories further to help you build and retain that lean muscle. Muscle is built slowly, but especially coming again out of that deficit, you’re going to see those stores become full and that is needed to be able to build the muscle. So make sure you are eating enough, make sure you’re slowly increasing those calories, maybe a 50 to a hundred daily and maintaining that over a couple weeks before you then increase again. But you need to eat more and as the scale increases in you’re training hard, you might even need to increase calories further because you’re burning more at rest. And this isn’t just the muscle mass itself that’s burning more calories, but it’s all the processes in place and even the thermic effect of the food that we’re eating is going to have an impact on how much we’re burning to digest it.

So again, building lean muscle, you’re going to have to eat more. Next, you are training fasted. I like intermittent fasting, I like training fasted, but also if you are struggling to build and retain that lean muscle, it might be because you are training fasted, you don’t have the energy supply there that you really need to be able to lift as much as possible. You’re not getting your muscles what they need to repair and rebuild right after. So I’m not saying that you have to give up training fast. If you feel best doing that, you’re training first thing in the morning, but if you’re unwilling to change that meal timing, consider adjusting your meal late at night the night before or even consider for this muscle building phase because you are a hard gainer because you’re really struggling to get in more calories to really create that calorie surplus you need.

Consider not training facet even if it’s something small and make sure that your meal timing even after is really good. But just because training facet worked really well for fat loss just because maybe it even feels best overall, if you have a specific goal you want to drive towards and you want to see better results, especially if you’re a more advanced exerciser where those 1% improvements and tweaks are really going to pay off because you’re adapted to so much training stimulus already, you might want to consider getting in a little meal pre-workout even if it’s a simple carb and a protein source as well. But you want those glycogen stores full because it’s not only energy, but it’s getting your muscles needed fuel to repair and rebuild quickly. Number three, you’re not eating enough protein. So while our protein needs are potentially a little bit higher when we’re in a calorie deficit to help us protect that lean muscle mass while we’re dieting down, and if you are in that deficit and trying to build lean muscle as you’re still continuing to lose fat, then yes, protein is even more essential.

But if you’re starting to go into that calorie surplus because you are at your desired level of leanness, you still want to keep that protein high because that’s going to help you avoid gaining unwanted fat. Your muscles also need amino acids to repair and rebuild. If you don’t get them the appropriate amount, they are going to break down muscle tissue to try and get the amino acids to build muscle tissue back up, which is going to basically negate all of your hard work in the gym. So make sure that you are getting plenty of protein to help you rebuild off of this. Number four, you can’t fear carbs or a meal timing. And I bring these up together because I already slightly touched on the facet training, but often we do fear carbohydrates, especially when trying to lose because you see more jumps in the scale, you see more fluctuations on the scale when you increase carbs because you also gain water weight.

Now the thing to note too with carbs that is extra interesting, at least in my opinion, is the more muscle you have, the more fluctuations on the scale you’re going to see potentially daily because the more glycogen storage you can actually have with more muscle, you can store more glycogen, which is really good because it helps you build more muscle. It helps you even if you’re going to train for a race and you want to be able to PR and have those energy stores, it’s great, but it can lead to more fluctuations. But you can’t see our carbs despite seeing that change on the scale or those fluctuations on the scale because they are that immediate fuel. When we’re training hard, a lot of times we feel like I’m going at a hundred percent intensity. I’m really, really working hard, and then we’re not quite pushing those loads in the same way.

We’re not quite advancing in the same way, and it’s because a hundred percent doesn’t mean a hundred percent, it means a hundred percent of what you have that day. So if you’re not fueling correctly, you might feel like you’re giving it all, but you’re going from a depleted state. So you need to make sure that you actually have the energy there to be able to push hard to keep progressing in your workouts, to see that stimulus for muscle growth. So make sure that you are getting enough carbs. They’re also protein sparing. That means that you can potentially protect your lean muscle mass while being in that deficit can also get the needed fuel. And then you’re not going to necessarily need even more protein to see the same results because it is protein sparing. And with that, it’s all about the meal timing. So if you’re like, I’m in menopause, I’m doing better on low carb ratios, but I really do want to see those muscle gains, or you are somebody with a health concern that might dictate lower carb being right, you can adjust your meal timing and this is where again, potentially giving up your FT training might be key or even making sure that you’re getting more carbs right around your workout.

Even post-workout can be especially important. So don’t fear adjusting your meal timing, whether you’ve usually done maybe two meals over six meals or six meals over two meals. Don’t fear adjusting your meal timing or even the breakdown of how you’re splitting up your macros over the day to make sure that you’re getting them when your body needs. And this is also why I don’t recommend carb cycling or changing macro ratios day to day because your body needs fuel on the days you’re not training to repair and rebuild. And also keeping those stores full so that you go into your next training session, not in a depleted state is especially important when you’re trying to gain muscle without getting fat. Number five, you’re timing your cardio wrong. What I mean by this is a lot of times we will put our cardio as priority in our workouts, whether it’s because we’re training for a race or we think that that’s going to help us lose fat faster.

I see a lot of people putting cardio first, and if you put cardio first when you’re trying to build muscle, you’re going to go into your lifts more fatigued, and so you’re not going to be able to push the weights in the same way. You’re not going to see that same progression and growth. So you need to make sure that your timing, your lips lifts first. You also want to consider that you’re not doing your cardio in a way that impacts subsequent workouts so that you’re again, training in a depleted state. So make sure that you are timing your cardio if you’re doing any cardio after your lifting sessions around them so that you are maybe doing the cardio on a day where the next day you might be doing more upper body and so you’re lower body if it’s fatigued from the cardio, it won’t really impact the next workout.

Even consider how you’re timing your workouts based on your stubborn areas. So if you want to lose more fat off your thighs, if you want to lose more fat off your upper body, your core, what you train earlier in that workout will impact where the fatty acids are mobilized from. So no, you can’t spot reduce scenario, but if you are trying to really get lean and you’re dialed in your workouts and you’ve dialed in your nutrition and you’re still trying to maintain that lean muscle mass while losing fat, think about timing your workouts after those stubborn areas that you want to lose from. On the flip side with trying to focus on building lean muscle, do not put your workouts after an area that you are struggling to gain on. You want to focus those cardio sessions on days opposing like muscle groups that are not areas that you’re struggling to gain.

If you’re struggling to gain muscle on your legs and thighs, do not put cardio after it’s going to be catabolic, it’s going to hinder your results. So really be strategic in how you’re designing your workouts and where you’re putting that cardio. Number six is you’re doing too much steady state cardio if you are including more steady state cardio, and if you’re a runner cyclist, you love doing it. I’m not telling you not to include it, but I want to make you aware of the reward and cost of everything you’re including. That is a more catabolic activity to muscle mass. So I always recommend for my runners that we’re really trying to build new muscles so that they can PR in their next race that we lower the mileage for a point to make it easier, especially the more advanced in exercise where they are because they already have adapted to more stimulus to training progression so they’ve adapted to that they can handle more, so it’s going to take more to see the same results.

It’s those 1% improvements. So if you’re doing a ton of study, say cardio and wondering why you’re not seeing those muscle gains, this might be why, especially if you aren’t really, really extra super conscious of your nutrition, again, dialing in that diet to really make sure you’re in that surplus, you’re getting enough carbs, you’re getting enough protein can be especially important, so you have to be very aware of how everything’s working together, but it could be a perfect time if you want to focus on building muscle to lower your mileage and again, focus on that timing of even those cardio sessions so you’re not putting ’em after an area that you’ve struggled to gain muscle in. Then number seven, you aren’t creating true progression in your workouts. Part of this goes back to what I’ve mentioned a couple of times in that you aren’t actually training at a hundred percent intensity.

You are in a depleted state, you don’t have the energy, so while it feels like you’re giving a hundred percent, it’s not the a hundred percent you could truly lift because you don’t have the energy to do that. Also, a lot of times we’re not following a schedule. I’ll see people being like, why am I not gaining muscle? I’m like, well, what does your weekly schedule look like? Well, I kind of do this here and I kind of do that here. How can you track progression? You can’t say, Hey, I’m doing a reverse lunch and I lifted forties here and I’m going to lift 40 fives the next week. Or I lifted forties here and now the next week I did forties for an extra rep, so then therefore I lifted more loads. You can’t track the progression if you don’t do the same workouts week over week.

This doesn’t mean you have to have boring workouts over the course of the week and repeat the same workout multiple times. I don’t recommend that, but you want to have a weekly schedule. You do repeat and that you’re pushing progression in some way while staying focused on what you feel working, but you need that schedule so you can progress week over week. I also don’t recommend doing the same workout multiple times in the week because one day you’re going to be fatigued from another day, and so you won’t see progression the same way if you’re doing a sumo deadlift three times with a barbell, and that can lead to you tearing down the same muscles in the same way, which will not allow you to rebuild stronger and not see the same results. So with this being said though, when you’re creating the progression, you don’t want to stay on a progression too long.

I will find people get very comfortable with workouts and then they feel like they’re working really hard because it still hurts, but they’re not pushing that progression. They get a little too comfortable, they’re clinging to the same things, the same forms of progression, and therefore they’re not pushing themselves outside their comfort zone using those other ways to stimulate muscle growth. So don’t get so caught up in repeating a progression for too long that you aren’t really pushing that progress. Even though it might feel hard, then don’t fear a rep range or other forms of progression. I love lifting heavy. Lifting. Heavy is a great way to drive muscle growth is one of the easiest ways to drive muscle growth, but it’s not the only way. And the more advanced an exercise you are, the more you might hit some of those upper limits of what you can lift, especially without potentially addressing some weaker links or using other forms of progression.

Some of those things can make you realize, I actually haven’t hit my cap. I just was only pushing progression one way. So I would tell you, even if you love that heavy barbell deadlift or that heavy back row, try a unilateral move while it might feel uncomfortable, while you might not enjoy the instability because you have to really check your ego to go down in weights, that progression through the same but different by creating instability, by using that unilateral move can really pay off in even helping you increase weights in other movements. But it can also help you drive that muscle growth because there are so many ways besides loads to really drive that progression, create that stimulus from muscle growth. And it’s not only doing different movements, harder variations with different ranges of motion, it’s using different rep ranges. It’s maybe saying, Hey, I’ve been working in that eight to 12 rep, the six to 12 rep range with hyper hypertrophy, but I maxed out the loads.

Maybe I need to do some maximal strength to see if I can improve my strength to lift more for that hypertrophy rep range. Or, Hey, I’ve been neglecting the higher reps because I don’t really enjoy them or I have heard that’s not as essential for muscle growth, but that too can drive muscle growth because there are different drivers, three different drivers of muscle growth and using the high rep range can be really beneficial. Even how we combine those things can really pay off. So we can’t fear working outside our traditional hypertrophy rep range. We can’t fear not only or we can’t only focus on heavy loads as well. Number nine, you’re not using isolation moves. Compound moves are going to give you the most bang for your buck. If you are short on time, go to compound moves. Do not deviate from compound moves. And what I mean by compound movements or compound exercises is these are exercises that work.

Multiple joints require lots of large muscle groups to work together in unison. They’re things like deadlifts, they’re things like squats, lunges, the barbell row, the pushup things that require lots of muscles to work together. They’re going to help you burn more calories in a single session and they’re going to require you to move heavier loads. They’re going to be a great bag for your buck if you want to build muscle and see that great body recomp. However, isolation moves are really important if you are a more advanced lifter, if you do have the time to work them in, especially for stubborn areas because they’re going to help you bring that muscle to fatigue, especially some of the larger muscle groups potentially that with the compound exercises won’t be worked to fatigue because smaller muscles might fatigue first, but you need to include some of those isolation moves to really target and hone in on those moves to target and hone in on the stubborn muscles.

Hopefully I said that correctly brain cut out there. But number 10, you’re sticking with body parts splits. We see body parts splits all the time for the bodybuilding competitors, but not only are they generally using other things which impact recovery, how much they can lift all that jazz, but a lot of times we just don’t have the schedule ability to fully optimize those things. Not to mention, a lot of studies have shown that with pushing ourselves two to three times a week, training an area, especially stubborn areas can be really beneficial. So I would tell you if you’ve really fallen into the bodybuilding, ask type workouts where you’re doing glutes one day, biceps another, make it a little bit easier on yourself and make your schedule a little bit more efficient, make sure that you’re also getting that training frequency in for areas, because a lot of times you’re not going to stretch your workouts out to hours long and include a ton rest between things and it’s just not as efficient.

And with some of the advanced bodybuilding training techniques that we’ve sort of lost the old school techniques like compound burner 6, 12 25, you can get a lot of bang for your buck by increasing your training frequency. So let go of the body parts splits if you’ve been clinging to them, consider hemisphere splits. So upper, lower, consider anterior posterior of front backside. These things can help you really be efficient and even spend less time in the gym while seeing better results. And they can mix it up too if you’ve been clinging to those old or the more traditional body parts splits and not seeing the results that you want as you become more advanced in your training. 11, you don’t push to true failure, so you’re not embracing being comfortable in ways outside your comfort zone. A lot of times, again, going back to the thing I mentioned at the beginning, we’re not fueling adequately.

We’re not in that calorie surplus. We’re not giving yourself enough fuel to be able to push. Also with this, we’re not embracing discomfort through the unilateral moves, through creating that instability through increasing the drainage of motion, we get comfortable being uncomfortable in certain ways. We are okay feeling challenged by the heavier weight with specific movements. We might even avoid specific exercises. I know I personally really don’t like step-ups, but I’ve made an extra effort to include them because I know part of the reason I don’t like them is because they challenge me in a way I’m not comfortable with. And the more you do them, the more comfortable you become with that. But that can help you push to true failure. And I even bring this up when it comes to rep ranges because I’ll have people sort of fight against me sometimes with the higher rep ranges when I include a move, even specifically with the compound burners, I’ll have them do a compound exercise like a lunge and followed it up with 15 to 20 reps on a more isolated movement, whether or not it’s like a glute exercise or a quad exercise depending on the lunge variation, and they’ll sort of fight me on those higher reps until they really try it out and then they’ll realize wholly moly, I’m taking that muscle group to failure in a new way where I even have to stop at 15 reps with a lot lighter load than I thought.

And then even when I go back to that next round of lunges, that way feels so much heavier and that really pays off. So we have to find different ways to take ourselves to true failure and not just stop when something feels hard. There’s a lot of times we’ll stop put down the weight, and it’s like, could you do two more reps? Sometimes you got to try it, and yes, we don’t want our form to break down and put ourselves at risk for injury, but even if you’re a little afraid of pushing through, maybe you do rest pause technique. You say, I did my A reps. Put it down for just 15 seconds. Pick it up and do two more just to make sure your form is on point, but you’re still doing two more reps. But we have to push that failure, especially for women.

We are more endurance based and whether or not it’s truly genetic or whether or not, it’s also how we’ve always the sports we’re more usually into when we’re growing up, we can handle a lot more volume often and we can also, we have a lot more strength endurance. So pushing a little bit more to failure is really key for us, especially as we go through menopause. Number 12, you want to be sore and are constantly sore. Seeking to be sore is not our focus when we want to build muscle progression, seeing that we’ve done a little bit more each and every week throughout the weeks is what we need to see when we seek to be sore. A lot of times what we’re not realizing is that we’re just including movements that cause muscle tissue damage and not using the other drivers of muscle growth.

We’re potentially not recovering correctly and we’re not fueling correctly. So seeking to be sore is not what we want to do. It probably is holding us back, and it’s probably even meaning that we’re not repeating workouts consistently that we’re, again, not recovering, but then stringing together random new things, which is just keeping it sore because new makes us sore more than anything else. Muscle tissue damage, so moves like the deadlift and things that put more stretching the muscle under load are what caused more muscle tissue damage and that soreness, and it’s not a bad thing to be sore, but you should see over your progression that you’re becoming less sore as you’re able to handle more loads because you’re adapting and recovering correctly to build that lean muscle, then you’re not focusing on recovery. We can only train as hard as we can recover from Recovery is undervalued.

I’ll tell you that we focus so much on how can I burn more calories? How can I do more in the gym? How can I lift more? But if you’re not recovering, you’re not going to be able to push in the gym the way that you should. So focus on your sleep, focus on your fueling, focus on the macros that you’re using. Focus on the mobility work to get more out of your training sessions. But don’t ignore your recovery. Not every workout should be a hundred percent intensity. Even there are going to be some workouts that should feel easier so that you’re rebuilding in that time. We rebuild when we recover. So you need that recovery to see the results that you want in those muscle building efforts. Even consider how you’re including your mobility work and your activation. That activation really uses that metabolic stress to even drive muscle growth.

So there’s even a point to that and those pumper based movements that might not make you a sore the next day, but that will drive muscle growth in a very valuable way because you can recover more quickly from it. Then number 14, you’re not training a true a hundred percent intensity. I’ve mentioned not going to failure and not having the energy to train as hard, but you have to truly push that a hundred percent. So you’ve got to say, Hey, am I recovering to a point where I feel like I’m actually moving forward in my workout sessions? Am I able to lift more? Am I able to progress? Am I able to have that my body connection or am I coming from a depleted state? Assess those things because you might realize you need more calories, you need more carbs, you need to focus on protein, you need to focus on sleep a little bit more.

Maybe you need to take that deload week because you are even mentally not able to push as hard because I think that’s something we don’t focus on enough too. We think about how our body feels, but not how our mind feels. And mentally, if we are stressed at work, if we have all these different things going on, we might be depleted mentally and then go into our sessions and not have the wherewithal to push yourself to be uncomfortable in that way on that day. So assess where you are at mentally because sometimes you need to back off and let some of the other stressors be taken care of first and even use that deload week to maybe address some of the weaknesses that you have. So when you come back, you come back stronger, but then you’re able to make yourself more uncomfortable in the gym setting to push those forms of progression to see the results you want.

Now, last but not least, you expect results too fast. Not recognizing that experience actually slows progress. Muscle gains are slow. When we talk about, or people will mention faster muscle gains, a lot of times it is because now they have glycogen storage in the muscle mass that they built. But the more advanced you are, the slower those gains will be over the course of the year, and even one to two pounds over the course of a year might be all you can expect. Now, saying this, a lot of times we might see on some of those body scans, the body fat testers quicker changes, and it’s because those things are impacted by hydration. But also because in some of our dieting practices, even when we’re doing things strategically, we are going to lose a little bit more muscle. So all of a sudden and trying to retrain our body to eat more, even eating at maintenance, you might see a little bit of the muscle mass you lost come back on, and again, as that muscle is regained and you’re not in a deficit, you’re going to not be in a depleted state.

So you’re going to see that glycogen storage, that water weight. So that’s where the fluctuations on the scale might change while you still look even leaner. But just remember, results are slow, but only through constantly pushing that progression are we not only building muscle, but we’re retaining what we had previously as we get older, which it does become harder to build a retaining muscle because we’re not utilizing proteins efficiently and our hormonal environment is simply not optimal. So you need to keep pushing that form of progression, even if you’re just trying to maintain what you had. So hopefully these 15 tips are really helpful so that you can see those better muscle gains. But just remember guys, what used to work or what worked for one goal might not necessarily be what you need to drive forward towards the next one. So letting go of some of those tactics, realizing they’re not part of our identity is really key, as hard as it can be, especially when they did work to help us see the results we wanted prior. But I want you all to see those muscle gains and I hope these tips helped.

Thanks for listening to the Fitness Hacks Podcast. Again, this is the place where I share all my free workout and nutrition tips. I’m never going to run sponsorships or ask you to buy anything. All I ask in return is if you’re enjoying the podcast to leave a rating review or share it with somebody you think it might help. This will only take a few minutes and it would mean the world to me and possibly change the life of someone I.


*Please Note: this transcript is auto-generated and there may be some errors in the transcript