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Difficult Gainer – How to Build Muscle When Nothing Has Worked

Bodybuilding workout Muscle Gain Journey

How do you build muscle when you are a difficult gainer? During week four, March 01, 2020, I started thinking about the difficult gainers of my muscle gain journey. I did not have a great week, according to my Saturday measurements. I overreacted with squats by trying to lift an additional 10 pounds. But I performed poorly on my bench press and shoulder press also, and I did not overreach on them. 

I may have reached a plateau, which will happen because I am lifting at my ceiling each week, and I am 52 years old. However, my Tuesday and Thursday workouts did not show that I had reached a plateau and that my measurements would disappoint on Saturday.

That’s why I discussed building muscle for difficult gainers. Also, I reduced my calories and carbohydrates, contributing to my low energy levels and performance. As a result, I will not panic or do an overhaul for one week. Subsequently, I will make a few adjustments to my diet, sleep, and activities for week five.

How to use measurement when you are a difficult muscle gainer

Measurements equal results and are used to set goals. This week I took measurements of my weight (183.6 lbs), Shoulders (51 in), Chest (42 in), Waist (36 in), Hips (40.5 in), and Arms (15.5 in). I took my waist measurements from my belly button since my goal is to build muscle and keep belly fat down. Tracking measurements, besides weight, helps me to see how to build muscle when it is difficult to gain,

The goal is to build muscle, not store fat, which can lead to weight gain. I ate around 200 grams of protein on my diet each day, less than 100 calories of carbs each day, and about 1800 calories each day. I intend to cut sugar below 10 grams next week and maintain calories to create a small calorie surplus.

Demographics: Age 52, Height 5-5, Weight 180 lbs

Tuesday’s Workout:

Lift and Weight                        Sets and Reps
Deadlift 380                              8,6,4
Bench Press 290                     7,4,3  
Barbell, Squat 325.               8,6,4
Incline Bench 240                     8,6,4
Shoulder Press 170                   8,6,4
Machine Row 240                    8,6,4

Thursday’s Workout:

Lift and Weight                        Sets and Reps
Pushups                                  78, 22, 23  
Hanging Leg Raise                   45, 20, 20  
Dips                                         27 12,9  
Pull Up                                      12,8,4
Bicep Curl   70                        10,10,10
Leg Raise 260   10,10,7
Hamstring Curl 130   10,8,4

Saturday’s Measurements:

Lift and Weight                        Sets and Reps
Deadlift 425                              6
Bench Press 305                       5
Barbell Squat 350,                     2
Shoulder Press 200                   3
Machine Row  255.                   6

In conclusion, how to make adjustments when you are a difficult muscle gainer

After Saturday’s disappointments with the squats and shoulder press, adjustments need to be made. I will incorporate a change plan for how to build muscle when you are a difficult gainer. The first change is my diet. I will eat carbohydrates before lifting. I do not want to increase carbs across the board unless my lifts continue to suffer. The second change is sleep. I intend to track sleep every day next week to get a minimum of 8 hours of sleep.

The third change is to stretch and use a foam roller. The fourth change is to perform 5 minutes of sprints on off days. Finally, I don’t want to overact because it is only one week, and plateaus are normal for weightlifting. Also, I will increase my deadlift and bench press by five pounds.

I will also stay at my current lifts at the squat and shoulder press. The goal is to lift an additional 5 pounds each week, measure the results, sleep 8 hours a night, eat a surplus in calories and protein, assess my findings and make adjustments based upon the results.