So you are training 5 days a week and eating 'healthy', but seeing no change.
Here is your reminder that progress is not linear (especially not muscle growth), although this is not to say you are necessarily going backward, you may not constantly be moving forward.
Anyway, let us address a few factors that could be stalling progress...
Insufficient sleep is responsible for reduced rates of protein synthesis, this imbalance results in disruption to the skeletal muscle metabolism, leading to muscle loss (Morrison et al. 2022).
Just 1 night of no sleep can increase protein breakdown, inhibit fat loss and decrease testosterone levels.
It is worth noting that muscle growth takes place during the time you are not lifting weights, the Growth Hormone (GH) is produced naturally by the body and is highest when sleeping, stimulating the growth of all essential tissues of the body.
Makes sense to get an extra hour in, right?
How about naps?
Yes, naps could be used to increase sleep duration but should not be relied on as a regular substitute.
If you have not read ‘Why We Sleep’ by Matthew Walker then I would highly recommend you do.
If you are building muscle, do not reduce calories on rest days, keep protein high and water intake high. REMEMBER, recovery periods are where muscle growth takes place, so nutrition is an important focus.
Alcohol... probably the last thing you want to hear. It has ZERO benefits to muscle growth, it negatively impacts sleep and hydration, disrupts protein synthesis, and inhibits fat loss.
So if you are trying to increase muscle growth or lose fat, it is worth considering reducing your intake.
Many gym goers turn up every session (good on you btw), but have absolutely no plan or do the same session. Technically you could make progress from doing the same session, however, keeping EVERYTHING the same does not qualify (including the outfit).
Ultimately, if the goal is to build muscle and you are doing the exact same thing progress is unlikely, yes you may get really great at those 3x10 reps @ 30kg on hip thrusts but that is about it.
The same goes for exercise selection, if you are trying out 20 different exercises each time you train this is too much. Pick 5-6 exercises for each session (or hire a coach, yes a plug) and consistently do this for the next 6-8 weeks, ensuring you progressively load an aspect each week.
This could be increasing the weight (yes, even the 1.25kg plates), increasing sets, increasing rep range, decreasing speed, increasing range of motion, or improving the form of the exercise.
Pick 1-2 and make these a focus.
Overtraining can cause an increase in cortisol, preventing muscle repair and increasing the breakdown of muscle. Cortisol can also impact the body's ability to use fat as energy, increasing the amount of fat storage.
Now, you cannot control all stress, but managing the aspects within your control is a start.
For example, if you are training 6 days a week, try reducing it to 4 days and ensure you apply the progression principles.
Comfort = lack of growth.
Morrison, M., Halson, S.L., Weakley, J., Hawley, J.A. (2022) Sleep, circadian biology and skeletal muscle interactions: Implications for metabolic health. Sleep Medicine Reviews. Dec2022. Vol.66, p.8.
Walker, M. (2018).Why We Sleep. Penguin Books Ltd.