Every person who goes to the gym has moments where they think they look great and moments where they really don’t like their body.

If you’ve ever asked, “why do my muscles look smaller some days” then continue reading to find out why and how you can fix it.

Muscle Atrophy

Muscle atrophy is wasting of muscle mass caused by the disuse of muscles or from neurogenic conditions. Symptoms include muscles looking smaller than normal, muscle imbalances, or a decrease in strength. It will make the muscles appear smaller than they normally do.

The causes of muscle atrophy are;

  • Malnutrition
  • Genetics
  • Age
  • Lack of training
  • Medical condition

Not eating proper nutrition causes the muscles to appear as if they have shrunk. Carbs and water give your muscles a full look. If you are eating in a calorie deficit, you will be losing fat and muscle if you are not training.

Genetics play a role in how big your muscles will be and the shape and insertions they will have.

As we age, our bodies produce fewer proteins for muscle growth.

If you stop training, there will be no stress placed on the muscles. This means that they will not be growing. If the body is sedentary, then the muscles will start to shrink.

Similarly, if you are training less than you usually do, the muscles will shrink.

There are various medical conditions that can cause muscle atrophy such as ALS, MS, arthritis, and myositis. These cause damage to muscles, nerve fibers, and joints. This makes it a lot more difficult to create new muscle growth.

You Don’t Have a Pump

Everyone looks a lot bigger in the gym. Your muscles have blood flowing through them and they are full of nutrients. Many gym-goers compare themselves to how they look in the gym. This will cause you to look smaller.

why do my muscles look smaller some days

The harsh reality is that you will never be as big as your pump. How exactly does a pump work? Transient hypertrophy is a scientific term that explains the pump sensation.

This occurs when water and blood build up in the muscles during a workout. Lactic acid builds up and draws water into muscles while you exercise in the gym. The surge of fluid in the muscles causes the muscles to swell and appear larger.

Don’t get caught up on chasing a pump too often as it is not the best way to build muscle. It’s great if you want to appear bigger immediately and only have a few minutes to workout. However, incorporating training methods such as progressive overload are better for building long-lasting muscle mass.

How to get a pump?

Bang out a few sets of bicep curls or lateral raises to pump blood in the muscles. This pump won’t last forever but it is an instant way to appear bigger. If you are wearing a short sleeve shirt then you would want to pump up the arm muscles.

Pump products containing nitric oxide and citruline mallate may help increase blood flow and help you achieve a better pump. Drinking lots of water also helps carry blood to the muscles and increase your pump.

A higher amount of muscle concentrations will create a greater pump. This can be increased by doing more sets and reps of an exercise.

Using mind-muscle connection is a great tactic to get a better pump. This is where you mentally think about contracting whatever muscle you are working out.

If you are doing biceps curls, you want to think about squeezing your biceps as hard as possible while you are lifting the weights.

Your Glycogen Levels are Low

First off, what exactly is glycogen? The carbohydrates that you fuel your body with.

Carbs are turned into glycogen in the body which is then used as fuel during activity such as weight lifting. During intense workouts, glycogen is used to keep you going. Note that the muscles hold glycogen. If your body has more muscle mass, you can hold more glycogen and have more energy during a workout.

After long periods of exercise glycogen levels will deplete and need to be refilled again by eating more carbs.

Glycogen attaches to water molecules in the body that make the muscles look fuller. When your body is full of carbs and glycogen, the muscles have a fuller appearance, making you look bigger.

You’re Experiencing Body Dysmorphia

Body dysmorphia is an unfortunate reality of working out in the gym. Once you start lifting weights and obsessing over how you look, you will always want to be bigger. Bodybuilders who have lifted weights for over 10 years still claim that they experience it.

This unfortunately causes negative relationships with food and body image. This problem stems from people comparing themselves to others. People look up to their favorite fitness influencers or competitors online and see how crazy they look. What they don’t take into consideration is that these people have been strictly trained for many years and a lot of them use performance-enhancing drugs.

People work out for a year or two and expect to look the same as these influencers. They become disappointed when they do not. The media constantly portrays men with big physiques as being the ideal body type. Superheroes in action films are always full of muscle. This further intrigues men to eat more and hit the gym.

It also causes more body dysmorphia. Men look in the mirror and don’t see the superhero physique that they desire.

You Are Cutting

If you are in a cutting phase you are probably trying to burn off some body fat and show all the muscle that you gained during your bulk. While cutting has its benefits, it is impossible to cut without losing some muscle mass.

This loss of muscle mass will account for you appear smaller than you did while bulking. The loss of body fat from cutting will also give a smaller appearance. You will look smaller in clothes when you are cutting since you won’t fill out your shirts as much with less body fat.

While this may be disappointing, remember that cutting will show more muscle and veins. This gives the illusion that you are more muscular.

It’s also tough to look in the mirror and feel as if you look smaller. Ensure you are eating enough, drinking enough water, and hitting the gym regularly to prevent muscle loss. Leave any questions or comments below and I’ll get back to you as soon as possible.

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