Sorry for the delay, I appreciate the replies guys and I'm going to answer them one by one.
Destinharbor saidYou're probably not getting enough protein. Drink two protein shakes of at least 35 grams of whey protein and no more than 150 calories per day. In addition to fresh protein and a healthy diet. Also,you say you are working out hard but do you give each muscle group sufficient focus to really push it to grow. 2-3 times/week isn't a lot of time in the gym. I do an entire day/week each for arms, chest, shoulders, back and legs. Most guys wanting to increase size will divide up their routine to devote an entire day to each group. You can reduce the number by mixing back and biceps and chest and tri to reduce it to 4 days/week. I see a lot of guys in the gym moving about the equipment without any real plan and they won't stay wth it because they won't get the results. But if your routine is solid, it's probably just you need more protein. And some fats to produce testosterone. Carbs are for energy.
Thanks for your very thorough reply Destinharbour.
I do appreciate how important protein is to muscle gain. I am however not in a position to buy protein powders.
I don't doubt that they work, it's a complex issue personal to me.
I live a self providing (aiming for self sufficiency) life and have very little money - being unable to keep a car running due to finances, I can't afford protein powders.
I am also very strict on my diet - little or no processed food, recently pescitarian convert from vegetarian - I just can't allow a large part of my diet to be highly refined and processed dairy byproducts.
This said,your original response is correct - increase protein intake.
I also appreciate the idea of focusing on only one body area per day and working out much more frequently. This is what I was doing untill recently and after not making much gains.
After some research I have been working g out heavily doing combination lifts to push more than one muscle group....compound movements.
I have been working for the last month or two doing sets using weights I max out on at 12 reps but continuing untill failure repeatedly untill 50 reps per exercise.
This makes things super swift and mega DOMS.
I'm going for minimum effort for maximum return......not because I'm lazy but because I simply don't have enough energy to work out 7 days a week wasting energy I'm struggling to use to create muscle.
I hope this helps explain myself a little better?
I also have no access to a gym - I have free weights, bodyweight equipment and gymnastic rings.
I probably walk between 2 and 10 miles a day with work,life and goats so I don't do cardio.