I have kept upping creatine intake and calories, including exercise and weightlifting, but I do not see any muscle gains. My arms have stayed the same size for over 3 years, and I've been to dietitians/etc. I even got a personal trainer. I have no diseases/illnesses that prevent or waste away muscle (i.e., cachexia). I have maintained bulking phases, but all I gain is 99% fat from a long-term surplus. For example, I gained 25 lbs. in 4 months, but did not look any bit muscular -- and my arm size did not change, nor did any other muscle group. My waist size just increases and I get a belly slowly, but never see any muscle mass.

I upped to 500mg of creatine a day, plus 900mg caffeine and up to 1,000 grams of protein per day, including 5-10K calories (80% protein). This diet has cost me thousands over the months, but no results. People tell me to eat more, but I just get fatter -- I gain literally almost no muscle.

I've been steadily working out for around 3 years, even some under supervision of trainer. I see no muscle mass results. My arms "pump" but never get bigger chronically -- they always still 12 inche.

I am 5'10" and 162 lbs. with about 15% bodyfat. I went to 180+ and just went up 4-inch pant sizes, but did not see any muscle gains while having a very strict, progressive overload bearing workout that involves low-weights and 8-12 reps for hypertrophy, 5-8 reps for power, and 15+ reps for endurance.

I literally gain less than 1 lb. of muscle for every 20 lbs. of overall weight gained. I'd have to be the size of a superobese Walmart cart roller to have the muscle size of a 13 year old boy.


5-12K calories a day, every day.

400-500g creatine.

700-1,000g protein.

I have seen guys bigger than me that don't even workout, it's pretty shameful. I even see lots of women bigger and more muscular at the gyms than me. I have good power (bench 210, squat 180, curl 110, overhead press 150, can do 18 chin ups, 14 pull ups, 2 muscle ups, and even deadlift around 450 lbs.), but have no size. It's like a curse of tiny muscles with good strength.

Muscle size flexed:

Biceps: 12 inches

Quads: 27 inches

Chest: 38 inches

Neck: 13 inches

Forearms: 10.8 inches

Wrists: 6.9 inches

Hand length: 7.1 inches

Why am I so chornically small and can't gain any muscle for years?

I am 100% confident that I rest well and have one of the best routines I follow very passionately and strictly as I have sought after gains my whole life.

  • 2
    Not posting this as an answer because it's more of a suggestion, but have you considered that you may be overtaxing your digestive system with all that food and that your body isn't able to absorb all the nutrients it should be? I'd recommend drastically cutting down your calories, protein intake and creatine and concentrating on eating a decent amount of vegetables and salad. Give your body a break, food wise, but keep training heavy. Make sure you're getting enough sleep and taking in enough water as well. If nothing else is working for you, what do you have to lose?
    – Dark Hippo
    Commented Dec 26, 2016 at 12:59
  • 2
    Without seeing a routine and without details on this 10,000 calorie diet which is 80% protein, this question cannot be answered except to say that something is clearly wrong that you're not telling us. The squat being so low raises my eyebrow. The mention of only "low weights" is concerning. Commented Nov 8, 2020 at 12:06

3 Answers 3


There are a few reasons you might not be seeing muscle gains and only fat gains.

I'll start out with the first one that comes to mind, and the most probable from my perspective. You are. Take pictures, lots of them. If you're in a surplus and gaining muscle you are naturally going to gain fat too. This is going to look like you've gained mostly fat when in actuality you've gained fat and muscle. If you've got pictures you can compare yourself within them. When you lose the excess fat after your bulk, you'll regain muscle definition and you can see any gains made much easier.

I'm also curious about how you're training. 5-6 times per week? Light weights? 1RM's? High Reps? Low Reps? How long are your sessions? Are you doing cardio? What type of training are you doing? These are all important factors in how you're training.

If you're eating in a surplus and hitting your protein levels you will notice muscle gains providing you are working out adequately.
Your body will develop more muscle if you are:

A.) Giving your body a reason to build more (working out so your body adapts)

B.) Giving your body the proper tools to build muscle (Protein, proper rest, etc.)


The first thing you should be aware of is that gaining appreciable, sustaining muscle mass is typically a long (l-o-n-g) process especially if you train drug free. It requires consistent effort and attention to detail. Having said that, it would appear from your post that you're making a concerted effort to achieve your muscular goals. But, here are some observations:

  • I think you're relying too much on external supplements. More is not always better. Increasing protein and Creatine will certainly stress your digestive system and kidneys. Most people don't take Creatine every day. Rather it's typically “cycled”. I would suggest you take a hard look at your supplementation strategy and look to real food for the bulk of your nutrients.
  • If I understand your post correctly, your training seems somewhat
    haphazard in the amount of reps/work load you are attempting. I
    would suggest you may be over training. Don't be totally bound by
    what you read for rep/set recommendations. Pay close attention to
    what works for you an stick with it. Sometimes, the best routine is a “non-routine” because it provides variety and lessens any muscle adaptation.
  • There's no way for us to tell how well you are performing an exercise. If you “cheat”, or, do not perform full range of motion, you are wasting valuable effort and time. Strict/proper form should be the goal on each and every exercise. Consider posting video of exercises for critique.

Lastly, don't compare yourself to others. Be humble. There will always be someone who is bigger or stronger. Work your hardest at being the best you can be.


This may not be the answer you or anyone else would vouch for, but here you go:

That's just how it is. You are likely a hardgainer. You probably do build muscle, as everyone does, but the rate at which it's noticeable is negligible. It's not testosterone; it's not diet; it's genetics.

You are just not naturally apt to gain muscle quickly. It's a harsh reality, but there's little you can do. Some people just can't get very big -- and it takes them many times more effort to achieve small results. What does this mean? It doesn't mean give up -- it means accept the facts.

You say you're still building strength, right? Use that for motivation and let the muscle sink in slowly. You will get bigger eventually -- everyone will. You may take three times longer, but it will happen.

Even someone dying from starvation will still be able to build some muscle over time, so anyone will.

You get fat from eating too much because there's a hard limit to how much energy your body will use for protein synthesis -- the rest is just added to glycogen and then fat, as there's nowhere else/nothing else your body can do with so much energy surplus. Energy can't be created/destroyed -- only changed. You realize there's an upper-limit for everyone -- even the most roid-stacked, genetically-gifted individual in existence. Your body can only use so much for muscle -- after that it's down to fat.

Moderate intake and realize that eating more will NOT make you any bigger past a reasonable point. What you should do is, since eating more isn't helping build much more, simply eat what you normally do and workout, while sparingly throwing in small bouts of extra energy in some days when you're active/lift hard at the gym -- and then for down days you can have a very minimal deficit so as to never really throw your body too far in either direction without putting the brakes on it.

Keep using strength as a motivational tool to continue, while still keeping progress and slowly building muscle. You may not see much change with measuring tape, but it's almost assuredly true that some muscle is growing -- either by total muscle cells or cell size. Give yourself a break for a few days and re-evaluate -- work on your diet -- and go back in with your head up and be realistic. No, you may never have the "bodybuilder" body, but you can have a good body if you work at it and don't just give up because you can't get really big. It's not like everyone wants to be really big anyways.

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