Trouble building muscle?

Hey friends!

Does anyone else here feel like they have an inordinate amount of trouble building muscle? I keep wondering if this is just my genetic makeup, or has something to do with diabetes. I exercise a LOT, including weight training and cardio training, and for the life of me I can’t seem to get any stronger. Have any of you heard of it being harder to develop muscle if you have insulin-dependent diabetes?

No, actually I’m the opposite! I am very sturdily built, especially around the arms and shoulders. And strong. I’m only 5’0" tall, but I can lift and throw all the much larger men in my martial arts class. I used to do gymnastics too, and had far more fun with strength than flexibility.

I find insulin to be anabolic and build either fat or muscle rapidly. I generally enjoy a combination of both - I work hard but enjoy food lots too.

Some people just seem to have more trouble than others building strength, I really don’t think it is D related. I train with a man who flops about at training like a wet noodle, and he attends classes 5 nights a week. I only train 3-4 times.

I wish I had lots more flexibility - I am prone to injury because my muscles are so tight.

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Are you by any chance taking a statin drug? If you are, these can be detrimental for muscle building.

Enough protein in diet? Recommended is approx 1g /kg body weight.

Heavy weights may be required to gain muscle, in women.

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@EmilyC, it is great to see you!

I found that the best way to build muscle was through heavy weight training and timing of eating and insulin for recovery. Cardio (and other aerobic exercise) works against muscle building and while it gives you fitness, you should do things like interval training and not endurance training.

I always liked the “Starting Strength” program by Mark Rippetoe. It is a simple program with just a couple of exercises. The key is that it focuses you on compound exercises and has you increase the weight in a focused progression.

Next is recovery. You should have abundant protein in your diet. Muscle growth is fueled by protein. If you can’t get adequate sources of meat, fish and dairy then you may need to supplement. There are many protein drinks out there, I always used 100% whey protein. After a heavy workout your should have a meal to fuel recovery. Not a little snack, a meal. And include carbs. Heavy weight training will deplete glycogen and your body will readily take up glucose to restore levels. So plan a bolus and a meal with both carbs and protein an hour after your workout. And you may find that additional meals in the next 24-48 hours also support recovery.

And do heavy workouts every 2-3 days. Exercising too frequently works against muscle building. You don’t get muscular and strong when you work out, you get muscular and strong recovering from working out.

All my best future Arnold!!


Well, I’d say it’s certainly harder for me since diagnosis. I’ve been into Olympic lifting most of my adult life, and never had any issues building muscle. The last year, since my pancreas decided it didn’t want to cooperate any longer, I’ve found it almost impossible to do anything more than hold on to what muscle I have. I have stabilized my weight, but it took quite a while. Last few checkups, I’ve maintained my muscle mass, but I haven’t been able to gain any, even with lifting heavy and eating like a 16 y.o. boy.


Hey Emily !!

I am also having a great deal of difficulty building muscle. Of course, I sit each watching TV for 23 hours and I seldom eat much but pizza and wings. I do find that lollipops are a nice way to break up the chocolate binges I have every afternoon at 3 PM.

Oh wait, maybe your situation is somewhat different? oh well.


It’s good to see you too, @Brian_BSC!! And thank you for all the great info! I have been trying to eat more protein recently, but I confess my post-workout “meal” is really more of a snack. I’ll work on that :slight_smile: In fact, most of my meals are more snack-size, so I may just need to eat more, overall.

Many thanks, my friend!!

LOL! Hey Rick! I don’t believe any of that for one minute. I know you have a BIKE!!

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So frustrating! I’ve had diabetes my whole life, so I don’t have a before-and-after comparison, but I definitely do feel like I should be stronger, given the amount I exercise. I work with a weight trainer who pushes me really hard, but I never seem to be able to increase the weight I lift…

I wish you much luck! Since your body is fairly new to diabetes, I wonder if you’ll be able to build more muscle again after it’s acclimated a bit more. I hope so!

Having lost muscle mass prior to diagnosis, am likewise having trouble getting it back. Am better than before, but seem to have reached a plateau… I do ensure proteins are in my diet. Good question Emily, thanks for asking it.

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I was having the same issue. I started at cross fit 3 weeks ago and have noticed a difference already

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Lately I feel like my muscles are going slack, though I walk each day and lift weights for arms 2-3 time weekly. I wondered the same thing!
I just got off having a month of pneumonia and feel less able to keep going on the treadmill as long. I am 72, and tall and thin, but I hate the wrinkles on my arms and legs. Any thought about the effect of T1 and insulin on muscles?

I will ask my Endo doc tomorrrow when I see him for the first time.

Hi Emily! I think that you are probably stronger than you think😎If you did not work out you would not be as strong as you are. I

Hi Emily,

Actually, insulin can be conducive to building muscle, so much so that’s it’s often used by steroid abusers as part of a cycle.

Building muscle is hard work though, you need to run a large calorific excess, I typically have to eat an extra 1,000-2,000 calories a day if I want to gain muscle, which of course can cause issues with BG control.

Exercise wise, I found a 5X5 programme or a “starting strength” programme most useful, simple heavy, low rep caveman exercise like deadlifts, squats. If you have a google on the above terms you’ll be able to download a programme.

You’ll need to ensure you rest and refuel yourself correctly during recovery, doing this if you are low carbing is extra tricky, I could not avoid a hypo five hours later following a squat session unless i’d had 200g of carbs :slight_smile:

Stretching is also very important as if your do these programmes as intended you’ll get a lot of muscle soreness during recovery.

Progressive overload is also key, your body will adapt quickly, so every few weeks the weights must get heavier.

Might be useful to get a personal trainer to guide you through the programme for first couple of weeks, or perhaps find a lifting buddy?

I’ve gone the other way now, keen to be as lean and light as possible the older I get ha!


I haven’t had issues building muscle, but I didn’t start hitting the gym seriously until after my DXD. I do know that I’ve gained more weight (not just muscle) in the process though. I think I’d like to start adding in cardio and less muscle building. It’s taking a toll on my body (joints, injury, etc.)

I second this suggestion! The Olympic-style, compound movement lifts are definitely the way to build whole-body strength and muscle density. I’ve been lifting for the better part of 25 years, and my basic routine is still centered on a 5X5 core (squat, bench-press, overhead-press, barbell row, deadlift) combined with some other exercises like weighted pull ups, dips, and bodyweight/gymnastic drills.

For me, I’ve settled for maintaining muscle mass at my age, since I have a very difficult time adding the amount of calories necessary to really gain more mass and also have not enough time for good sleep/rest (thanks 11 mo child!).

after dx 3 months a go was given 3 drugs met. a high bloodpressure drug and a satin . was losing about 15 pounds a month fat but muscle to . stopped the satin and weight loss stopped am working on getting stenght
that I had back before dx and drugs that I started. seen some improvments but I think your right for us its a lot
harder to get results do to drugs and food that we are supposed to eat.

Diet plays a big role in building muscles, as it must be according to your workout plan, and lifestyle. I personally like to follow a customized diet plan for achieving my fitness goals. Generic workout plan can be followed to some extent, but i believe that diet plan must be fully customized on the basis of health, lifestyle and workout plan. My goals were to build muscles, so i added those foods that help in build muscles, here you can see them, after that i started to follow it, but it takes an effort to make routine. Results aren’t come suddenly, but i think the process matters a lot, and it ensures good results.