5 Reasons you're not getting any stronger
Posted on 4th January 2021 at 15:33
When I started lifting, I had no idea what I was doing. My training regime consisted of reading Men’s Health and choosing which exercises I fancied doing or looked cool… I was 18, fresh out of school and looked like the wind would blow me over… some would probably say I still do!
I made a little progress, but nothing remarkable and it soon slowed down. Fast forward to now and I’ve deadlifted 210kg, squatted 150kg and can do a pull up with my own bodyweight attached to a belt. So what changed…
Simply, I gained an understanding of how to train, learnt through a combination of experience and specific courses over the years. I stopped bouncing around from program to program, and started focusing on nailing the basics. Consistently.
Regardless of what you do at the start, you’ll make some progress. Which is primarily down to neurological factors, such as motor learning, understanding how to express force and secondly, simple physiological factors, like your body reacting to the new stimulus of training.
Unfortunately, it will eventually slow down, and that’s where things start to suck! You’ll still be putting in the same effort, but just spinning your wheels.
Having helped a lot of people, working with them to push through their plateaus. I wanted to share the top reasons you’re not getting any stronger.
3. Avoiding the important stuff
No one likes to struggle, especially in the gym and so we stick to our comfort zone, reeling off excuses as to why you’re not doing something you should be.
However, if you do the things you’re avoiding, your weaknesses suddenly aren’t that weak anymore. Just turns out you needed to do them more often.
We’ll always favour the things we’re good at, it’s completely understandable. Issue is, what we’re avoiding, is usually what we really need.
2. Constantly changing goals
Much like point 1, you need consistency in what you want to achieve. Bouncing around from goal to goal won’t do you much good. You may make some progress, but its going to be painfully slow.
Think of your training as a long term thing. Built in stages, each working towards a single component, that over time combine into your long term target.
Much like my clients programs, I plan out 6-12 months in advance and set out when to emphasise different aspects, like strength, power etc. These ‘jigsaw pieces’ go together to create the big picture and ultimately success.
4. Too much or too little effort
Linking very closely to the next point, this is one I see all too often. People either going too hard, too often, or those who never quite go challenging enough.
If you’re looking to get stronger, then finding the balance is imperative.
If you’re the person who tends to feel constantly tired and often dealing with injuries, then you need to cut back a bit and take the time to work at a lower intensity. Likewise, if you’re the opposite, then you may need to spend time lifting a little more and walking that tightrope between success and failure (in a lifting sense).
A great way of doing this is to set a 60s timer and complete as many reps as possible on one exercise. Done occasionally, this is a great way to teach yourself what you can do and check if you’re training at a sufficiently challenging level.
5. No focus on progression
Like everything, doing the same thing over and over again, will eventually lead to a plateau. Unfortunately, nothing lasts forever.
Your body needs a progressive stimulus to adapt to. In terms of strength, this usually comes in the form of progressive overload; making sure you’re gradually increasing the weight you lift week on week.
I personally like to use an RPE (Rate of Perceived Exertion) scale.
Simply put, this is a scale between 1-10, (see below)
1 = Very light effort (e.g. general warm up or cool down work)
2-3 = Light effort (e.g. general warm up and most warm up sets)
4-6 = Moderate effort (e.g. most conditioning work, some working sets of lifting)
7-8 = Challenging effort (e.g. most working sets of lifting and harder conditioning work)
9 = Very hard effort (e.g. final set of strength work, or speed work)
10 = Maximum effort (e.g. 1 rep max work or sprints)
Most of your time should be spent in the middle 2 sections (4-6 and 7-8), leaving the very easy and maximum effort work to a minimum and for specific sessions.
If you’ve found yourself plateauing with your strength, consider these 5 points and address any that may be holding you back.
Want some advice? Get in touch and I’ll get back to you within the day.
Tagged as: Coaching, Fat Loss, Gym, Personal Trainer, Personal training, Strength, Strength Training, Training, Weight Lifting, Weight training, Workouts
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