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5 Reasons You’re Not Getting Any Results

By Ben Coomber

Ben Coomber is a performance nutritionist (BSc, ISSN) speaker and writer. Ben run’s Body Type Nutrition, an online nutrition coaching company that also runs a multi-level 2 year Personal Trainers... Read more.

Everyone in the gym is seeking results, that much is obvious. Why, therefore, do the vast majority of people who are training week after week never really get anywhere?

Oddly enough it’s usually for one or more of the same five reasons.

Male Showing arm

The worst thing, though?

The worst thing is that everyone already knows they need to do these things but for whatever reason they find that these things are difficult to implement, or difficult to maintain for a significant period of time, or just want a shortcut.

Sorry, there aren’t any shortcuts, naturally anyway.

It may seem like I’m teaching you to suck eggs, but if you’re reading this and thinking that your results haven’t been coming as quickly as you’d like then it might be the reminder that you sorely need in order to start making serious gainz!

So, my top 5 for why you are not getting the results you want…

Who are they best suited for?

If your goal is to gain weight and you aren’t achieving that, you need to eat more.

It really is that cut and dry.  

“Hardgainers” will often complain that they are eating as much as they can stomach, yet their size Medium tee shirts just never seem to get any tighter. Part of the problem, I find, is that people are too scared of fat gain to eat the food needed to grow.

Like it or not, if you want to gain muscle tissue you need the number on the scale to get bigger and some degree of fat gain is inevitable.

We can (and should) minimise this as much as possible by training on a progressive program and keeping our calorie surplus moderate, but it’s a mistake to think that you are going to get anywhere without accepting your abs are going to get a little soft.

The other side of this coin is that some people have a small appetite, eat ‘clean’ foods such as chicken breast and broccoli that have a lot of volume for the calories and then also don’t track their intake anyway.

Triple Burger

If you are one of these people it may FEEL like you are eating an absolute ton, but even if you are utilising calorie dense sources (nuts, seeds, butter, muesli, avocados, chocolate, homemade flapjacks and cake, cheese, beef and lamb, I could go on, there are LOADS of high calorie foods) and eating until you are truly full, some folks’ bodies will adapt and resist weight gain.

You might fidget more and you probably have more energy so you train harder – both resulting in a ramped up calorie expenditure which can counteract your daily ice cream. But either way, eat more than you burn.

Another large issue is that you can eat like a beast for 2-3 days but after a while it gets difficult, you feel stuffed and bloated and the thought of another steak just makes you want to hurl. At this point you might under-eat for a day or two, effectively cancelling out your attempt at bulking.

Eat a good surplus, CONSISTENTLY. Track your intake and if you’re not seeing your weight increase, your calories need to do so first.

2. You don’t rest enough

I know, I know, you’ve heard it a million times before… But do you ACTUALLY listen?

Muscle grows outside of the gym, and it mostly grows while you are asleep. Even if you are taking 3 or 4 days off per week and your gym sessions are well programmed and hit with everything you have, by under sleeping you are risking drastically reduced progress.

Sleep is the time when your body performs the majority of its repair work, both of the musculoskeletal system and the central nervous system. If you stay up late watching reruns of The Big Bang Theory or playing Xbox and then getting up early the next day you could be cutting your sleep short, and what you DO get is likely to be of poor quality.


This means that you aren’t able to train as hard due to CNS fatigue, and the training you are able to manage is recovered from terribly.

It’s old advice and you’ve read (ignored) it before, but switch off screens an hour or so before sleep, get a hot shower, crack a window and close the blinds. Your sleep will improve, your guns will improve, and your concentration will improve.


Sleep is the Holy Grail, trust me.

3. Your nutrition sucks

A quick scan of Instagram will tell you that the diet of your typical gym goer has changed somewhat in the past 10 years or so. What used to be pictures of 42 identical Tupperware boxes prepped for a week of chicken, rice and broccoli has become pictures of ice cream, burgers, pizza and ‘flexbowls’.

Flexible dieting is great. For a start the whole ‘eat the same stuff all day, every day’ thing is as unhealthy as it is boring, and the slow death of that approach is more than welcome – the problem comes when people take it too far.

It’s often said that Flexible Dieters take care of their micronutrition and the ‘junk’ only makes up a small amount of their diet (80/20 is the usual split advocated) and in these instances I’m all for it.

80% of someone’s intake is likely (hopefully) going to be more than enough for them to consume all the vitamins and minerals they need for optimal health by utilising meatsvegetablesfruitsdairywholegrains, beans and pulses.

Is that the case though?

Your nutrition sucks

We’ve all seen flexible dieters who seem to struggle with their fibre intake and eat Quest bars to compensate, and we’ve all seen flexible dieters eating 2-3 meals per day, one or more of which is pretty much just ‘junk’. These people pay lip service to consuming predominantly whole foods, but the evidence says otherwise.

Adequate micronutrition is vital to allow your body to break down, absorb and utilise the macronutrition we consume, and without it you are going to find recovery difficult, growth reduced, fat loss harder, sleep impaired, concentration poor and a host of other potential issues.

You aren’t going to become unhealthy, not really, but ‘getting enough’ and ‘getting as much as you need’ are not the same thing when it comes to making progress in the gym.

You should want optimal, not sub optimal.

When in doubt, stick to whole foods as much as you possibly can, and consider the 80/20 rules a maximum – saving the ‘treats’ for more rare occasions. You’ll feel and perform better for it.

But, I bet you would do better aiming for 90% of the good stuff, which for most on a decent calorie intake training hard is still around 3-400 calories per day.

4. You rely on pre-workouts too much

You rely on pre-workouts too much

Caffeine is an ergogenic aid, no doubt. It’s the world’s most used and arguably most useful psychoactive drug, and I am in no way telling you not to have any (though I would personally recommend tablets over a mystery pink liquid which costs a fortune if you want to use a supplement…).

Where people run into problems is if they have 2-3 coffees in the morning, a coffee at lunch, an energy drink in the afternoon and then top it off with a (increasingly potent over time) pre-workout before they train.

Stimulating your nervous system that often with caffeine will eventually lead you to burnout.

Because you are able to train much harder than you usually would be and you spend all day high, you are also able to ignore fatigue and tiredness. You are unable to pay attention to your body’s signals that are telling you that you need rest, and that means you end up in a state of overreaching.

Planned overreaching is great if it’s followed by a de-load, but when was the last time you ACTUALLY took a full week de-load and a full cycle off of pre workout?

Don’t screw with your adrenals, trust me, I’ve been there, and luckily my rehab wasn’t too long, but I’ve had clients take 12 months plus to rehab their adrenal glands fully again.

My advice, try be as caffeine free as possible and save your daily caffeine dose for pre workout, get performance where you REALLY need it.

5. You don’t train hard enough

This one is the hardest pill to swallow because everyone likes to think they train like a madman, but is it actually true?

Are you following a structured and prewritten program?

If not, the chances are you are cruising along in your training (or if you aren’t, you soon will be). Structured programs tell you when to push and when to back off so you can push hard again later – this undulating system means that you are always forcing your body to adapt to increasingly powerful stimuli and is exactly what you need to make some awesome gains.

You don’t train hard enough

When you are following a routine, or just ‘going in and seeing what feels good’ you will probably train like a demon for 4-6 weeks then start getting tired. At this point you start cruising and this is why you see SO MANY people in the gym lifting the exact same amount of weight week in week out.

If you’ve been hitting the gym and lifting the same weight for a while, and that weight isn’t damn impressive (indicating you have hit or come close to some kind of limit) the chances are that, honestly, you need to train harder.

Add reps, or sets, or another session, or man up and add some more weight to the bar. Whatever it is you need to do, you need to increase the demands you are placing on your body.

If you’re really looking to progress most of your workouts should leave you a little weak for a short time, going through the grinder should take it out of you a bit, not fully, that means your not recovering well enough, but a hard workout should make you wanna catch your breath for 10 minutes afterwards!

If in doubt, push yourself, back off and recover, go at it again.

Final Thoughts

So that is my list. Like I said, I know you know all of this already, we all do. The point isn’t to know, though,the point is to implement, implement well, and implement consistently for your entire training career, or at least till you hit the goal you set out to achieve.

Start today and you will be surprised at how fast things start to change.

Jamie Lloyd

About Ben

Ben Coomber is a performance nutritionist (BSc, ISSN) speaker and writer. Ben run’s Body Type Nutrition, an online nutrition coaching company that also runs a multi-level 2 year Personal Trainers nutrition development program, the BTN Academy.

Ben has the UK’s #1 rated health and fitness podcast on iTunes ‘Ben Coomber Radio’ with regular Q&A’s and expert interviews.

Connect with Ben over on Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, or Instagram.

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