This is going to be hard to hear, but if the title of this post is you, you probably aren’t executing exercise very well. You might be exercising, and you might be doing a lot of it, but it might not be doing you any good.
The issue is HOW are you doing those exercises. We could take squats for example. Let’s pretend you aren’t as strong as me. Let’s pretend your legs don’t have as much muscle as mine do. Now, let’s say you grab a pair of 50 pound dumbbells and I grab nothing. We are going to do front squats. You rack those weights and rep out 10. I rep out 10 with no weight. Who got the more benefit out of that set? Most people would argue that YOU did, because your legs aren’t nearly as strong as mine and you added 100 pounds before you squatted. I’d argue that I got more benefit out of my bodyweight squats and am probably going to build more muscle because of them than you with your 50 pound dumbbells because I know what I’m looking for in the squat, and it isn’t extra weight, it is challenging my muscular system. If I know how to do that well and you don’t, good luck getting results, regardless of how much weight you put on.
An easy way to start coaching yourself for what you are looking for in an exercise like the squat is to go slower. Most people use a combination of gravity, momentum and their joints to execute a squat. Where some of those variables are helpful in certain movements, exercises and drills, if you are trying to put on muscle within a certain body part, you might want to just slow down. When you slow the squat down, gravity helps less, your muscles have to help more, and you kind of take momentum out of play as well. This leaves your muscles to have to organize and initiate the movement. That leads to adaptation, and that leads to growth.
I know in our culture that it’s all about finishing the reps and finishing first, but if that is happening and you still have nothing to show for it other than those two things, maybe you want to think about training differently… unless those two things are your goals. If they are, no judgement here. Carry on.