Another 4 Big Reasons Why You're Still Small And Weak

M&S Team
Written By: M&S Team
September 19th, 2013
Updated: June 13th, 2020
62.9K Reads
Find out how to improve your gym results by learning the art of patience, properly managing your bulks, evolving your training and setting down your cell phone.

Let's talk muscle building.

In the article 4 Big Reasons Why You're Still Small And Weak I informed readers why their gains suck. Here is a summary:

  • Reason 1 - You obsess about your abs to the point where you undereat and restrict progress.
  • Reason 2 - You do not squat or deadlift. In and of itself this is not life or death, but it does reveal a tendency to avoid "hard" things in the gym.
  • Reason 3 - You train like you are on steroids, using advanced programs that might not be best for your recovery rates and training experience.
  • Reason 4 - You don't obsess about progression. Instead, your gym sessions are simply fancy calorie burning workouts.

Today I want to continue this conversation by presenting you with some additional ways to improve your gym results. So without further adieu, here are another 4 reasons why you're still weak and small.

Reason #1 - You Aren't Consistent

Ripped LifterAnd I mean consistent, consistent. 

What's the longest period of time you've lifted non-stop while focusing on unrelenting progression of weight? Two Months? 4 months? 6 months? 12 months?

Gains take time. How many of you have remained consistent for 3, 4 or even 5 years? Understand, I am not saying you should never take a week off. This is not the point I am trying to make. Deloads and the occasional week away from training are ok.

What I am talking about here is taking weeks and months away from the gym at a time. This happens more than you think.

I have been around the iron for nearly 28 years now. I see people come, I see people go. But mostly, I see people go. The big "magic" that can be found when analyzing the habits of successful lifters is this: they continue to lift, despite what life deals them.

Even if you aren't using the perfect routine (and I don't believe in perfect routines), you will still experience quality gains over time if consistency and progression are in the mix. While many of you understand the importance of progressive overload, you can't find the motivation to train without missing several workouts per week, or taking the summer off every year.

Commit to training 5 years without an extended layoff. Gains take years, not weeks. Build strength during this time. Then report back with a progress picture.

Reason #2 - You Jump Around From Workout to Workout

I see this all the time. A lifter becomes infatuated with finding a magic workout system. They will try something for a week, not like how it feels, and start poking around the Internet.

It's not long before they find another workout system that tickles their motivation. Soon they rush off to start a new training log, and announce to everyone that they've finally "found something that will work great for me!"

After 2 weeks of journal entries, said lifter goes into hiding. Three weeks later they reappear, detailing all the things that went wrong with the new program, and why they decided to make yet another change.

Here's the can't expect a workout system - any workout system - to be perfect for you. Instead of program hopping, make small tweaks to the workout. If it calls for 5 rep bench press sets, but they hurt your shoulder, move to a rep range that feels better. If the program lists dumbbell flyes, but you prefer another equal, but no less effective chest isolation exercise, swap it in.

Training evolution is important. It helps you to create your own unique training system, based on your specific needs. Consider workouts a starting point. Instead of hopping to another program when things go wrong, ask yourself what you could change to make the program work.

If you don't learn to evolve your training, you may find yourself caught up in the endless bro cycle: searching for a magic workout one, two and maybe even three years down the road.

Reason #3 - You Bulk, You Cut, You Bulk, You Cut

While related to general undereating, this reason deserves some commentary of its own.

It has become fairly commonplace to see trainees engage upon endless (short) cycles of bulking and cutting. They bulk for 4 weeks, cut for 8 weeks, bulk for 8 weeks, cut for 4 weeks. This is equivalent to trying to go on a long hike, but deciding to go in the opposite direction each time you don't like the way the terrain looks.

Here's a word of advice: if your bulks are so aggressive that you manage to gain 20 pounds in 4 to 8 weeks, you're doing it wrong. Gaining weight this rapidly is foolish.

A natural lifter who is doing it right, and who doesn't start underweight, typically gains 12 to 15 pounds of muscle during their first year. If you are gaining 20 pounds in a month of course you're going to look bloated and fat.

Instead of gaining weight this rapidly, slow down and try to gain 20 pounds during your first year. Be patent. A slow, sustained bulk will result in minimal fat gain. The result? You won't need to jump into cutting diets every 3 to 4 months.

Commit to a 2-3 year bulk, then trim the fat. You will have a ton of muscle, and won't be spinning your wheels.

Gym Texter

Reason #4 - You Are the Annoying "Gym Texter"

This might ruffle a few feathers, but it might also help a few of you as well.

If you are sitting on a piece of equipment, texting back and forth to no might the annoying gym guy/girl without even knowing it. While texting in and of itself isn't a crime, lack of focus is. Here is a quote from Dave Tate that you should remember:

If you're capable of sending a legible text message between sets, you probably aren't working hard enough.

Consider this for a moment. Are you focused on adding reps to your next set, or are you focused on your buddy's Facebook comment about Grand Theft Auto V? Focus counts. How you approach your workouts will impact how hard you work.

If you don't take your training seriously, can you really expect quality results?

And going a step further: taking up space, sitting on a piece of equipment while others are trying to focus is disrespectful. Heck, even texting for 20 minutes straight while others are trying to workout is distracting.

If you have no drive and focus, ask yourself why? If texting is a distraction, commit to setting your phone down for 3 to 4 hours a day.

Bottom line...don't let anything get in the way of progress. If you lack focus and discipline, it will catch up to you. It always does.

Brad Miller
Posted on: Thu, 11/17/2016 - 23:14

I'm 16 I have been working out for 2-3 years almost every night some hard days some easier days just a light workout u know eat good drink protein shakes but.... Nothing has happened I have always had a good 8 pack abs but I don't care about that anymore I want to be bigger im 5'10 and 128 pounds. 7% body fat 6 pounds of fat I play soccer year around I just don't get why I cant get bigger I'm getting tired of being "small and weak" I would like suggestions

Posted on: Thu, 07/23/2015 - 17:35

Love this article; so comprehensive and true. Especially "the habits of successful lifters is this: they continue to lift, despite what life deals them."
Thank you for the great read.

Posted on: Thu, 09/26/2013 - 09:20

Time off is a 'result-killer'. I've been weight training for 9 years, I'm not massive, nor cut. I do it for the overall health benefit, but am not satisfied with the 'aesthetic' I'm sitting with. I try train regularly, sticking to routines but tons of work travel, long work shifts, poorly equiped hotel gyms and convenient hotel food put a dent in my training regularity. But, I love getting up at sparrows and bashing a few thousand Kilos of heavy metal! So, I'm content...

Posted on: Wed, 09/25/2013 - 13:02

Hey Steve, great article!

I've been working out for a good 5 years now and I must say that the last reason really does get on my nerves. If someone is going to text they should just leave the gym because like you said its distracting. The gym is "My time" and put all my focus towards what I want and the motivation I have to accomplish what I need. This article does explain a lot, but next article you write about make sure to include alcohol. Fine Job!

M&S Team Badge
Posted on: Thu, 09/26/2013 - 19:48

Thanks Kevin!

Posted on: Tue, 09/24/2013 - 03:08

I think the best point the author makes is that bulking takes time. Its about incremental gains. I presently see about 2 lbs per month gains. At this rate, 1 year will be about 20-24 lbs. Think about 2 years and I could put on 40 lbs. I would go from 180 to 220. I don't know about you but 220 is solid. I would be happy with maintaining a 220lb frame. All have to is be patient.

Posted on: Sun, 09/22/2013 - 12:47

Good article. I think you have also someting similar on your youtube chanel. I have a problem with persons from point 4: they ocupy the equipment for a lonl, long time and only to have a place to stay.

Posted on: Sat, 09/21/2013 - 20:53

Reason #4 is the cause I stayed away from a gym buddy. Having to wait 1 to 1 1/2 minutes every set is no beneficial to both of us? So good luck with your work out bud!

Posted on: Sat, 09/21/2013 - 00:30

So the gain, cut, gain, cut thing is me for sure. I was obsessed with losing weight, which I did. I went from 180 to 146 in 4 months. In doing so I lost a lot of muscle along the way. Now I've decided to stick to a 2100 calorie diet and I've been gaining SOME muscle. I like the way I look and feel with more mass and want to keep adding but I feel like I'm having a hard time sticking to a gaining weight program in fear of getting fat again. In your Steve, making the gains you want to see first then cutting body fat is the logical way to go right? I see a lot of h.i.i.t. or cross training plans that say you can do both, gain mass while losing body fat. Should I put any stock into these ideas?

M&S Team Badge
Posted on: Thu, 09/26/2013 - 19:47

If you are after muscle mass, first add the mass, then cut fat. If you don't know how to add muscle, when you lose fat you won't have the ability to maximize muscle retention.

Posted on: Fri, 09/20/2013 - 13:29

Fantastic,true and quality stuff.i cudnt type it easily.trained hard today lolz.

Posted on: Fri, 09/20/2013 - 13:24

Good article Steve!

I've got a question. After reading your interview with Casey Butt. Casey told about muscle protein synthesis is elevated 48 hours after working out. Is this MPS only in the worked area's or is this whole body MPS?
Let's say I'm doing a 5x5 push/pull/legs split ala Frankie NY mass program. Does this mean that my pull muscles worked on monday got the benefit of the elevated MPS induced from working pull muscles on wednesday and again from working legs on friday, since all workouts are spread 48 hours apart?

Second question, if MPS is elevated 36-48 hours post workout, wouldn't it be better to eat more carbs and low protein on workout days and therefore eat more protein an maybe some less carbs on rest days an post workout. Basically using "high protein consumption" as a drugs so to speak.
I remember watching the weider training system nutrition tape where Joe told to eat 2gr of protein on days you work out.

jackson helton
Posted on: Fri, 09/20/2013 - 09:40

Hey Steve:
another great article. I've been following this site for about 8-10 months now and its a pretty great site. for the last 4 years I've been pretty consistent. I work out with a single workout plan for 3 months and then switch up. I take a one week break the last week of march, june, september, and december. I don't vary these break weeks regardless of what is going on in my life (ie. vacation, difficult work week, etc), but I will take a few days if I'm sick or injured. Every three months I get on M&S, pick a goal and choose a workout plan that will help me work toward this goal. (I'm on the long cycle workout now and will continue through the end of the year). I just wanted to say that my week to week gains at this point are minimal, but looking back from 4 years ago it's amazing what you can achieve with consistency. Just wanted to say great article and thanks for all the help

M&S Team Badge
Posted on: Thu, 09/26/2013 - 19:44

Thanks Jackson!

Posted on: Fri, 09/20/2013 - 03:29

this is a great article.I used to follow this.Really...Success requires time and dedication.I started lifting in February 2013..Now i have got some improvement.I am not upset..but i am obsess this take time.So no worries..only okie dokies..great article...

Posted on: Thu, 09/19/2013 - 23:20


Posted on: Thu, 09/19/2013 - 23:20

what is your opinion about alternating 2-4 different routines?

Posted on: Fri, 09/20/2013 - 16:31

Maybe 1 routine with periodization is best for you if weekly changes are what you want. Try the density and strength routine.

I personally run something similar to the strength workout. But I do it every week rather than switching to a density routine. However, if you prefer switching weekly this is a great workout as long as you stick to it for an extended period of time (~6 months)


Posted on: Thu, 09/19/2013 - 23:15

good stuff. you might want to add some info about alcohol

Posted on: Mon, 09/23/2013 - 03:08

It is good question. How bad alcohol for gaining? Of cause, not drinking every day, but is it a crime for gaining if you consume a few glasses of beer of wine 1-2 times per week?

Posted on: Thu, 09/19/2013 - 23:07

summer is when I lift the most....may - the 2nd week of sept then I increase my running milage as i prep for marathons

Nate Tebow
Posted on: Thu, 09/19/2013 - 21:58

I agree with 100% of this article. GOOD STUFF!

Posted on: Thu, 09/19/2013 - 21:46

I'm guilty of everything here minus the Great article.

M&S Team Badge
Posted on: Thu, 09/19/2013 - 21:54

Thanks Rich,

Posted on: Thu, 09/19/2013 - 18:49

How can I get me a mr. Olympia t shirt looking 4 one badly????

Posted on: Thu, 09/19/2013 - 17:21

well, nice Article
I went to the gym today and looked at cardio machinese I Saw " Tablets on them?" with the internet ????
what happen to the sport industry ?phew

Posted on: Fri, 09/20/2013 - 11:57

sports industry? phew?