3 Reasons You Aren’t Getting Stronger
By : Jerrod Krick, B.S., C.S.C.S.
Untrained people can make some amazing gains just by lifting weights. Literally any kind of weight training will do. They can follow a thousand different programs and every single one of them will provide them some pretty decent results. However all good things come to an end right? If you’re smart with your training then the answer can be a resounding NO! for a very, very long time. Most people stay on the same program for so long that they are simply done adapting to their program, meaning they can no longer get any stronger. Here are 3 mistakes that prevent strength gains from happening.
1) You are training in the same rep range… all the time
Ask any average gym goer these days how many reps they are doing for each exercise and you’ll often get a response that’s around 10-12 reps, which is fine starting out. However, with more training experience comes the need for a higher training intensity if you are trying to get stronger. Like I wrote earlier, if you are a beginner, you can pretty do anything and it will work. However, once you’re in that intermediate stage, you have to crank up the intensity to the point where you only able to do about 4-6 reps per set. This about 80-90% of your 1 rep max. When you reach a more advanced stage you need to be training in that 1-3 rep range which needs to be at least 90% of your 1 rep max in order to continue seeing strength gains.
2) You are too unstable with your training
If you are constantly training on a ball or some sort of balance board, you need to get your feet on the ground. The reason is that the more unstable you are, the less weight you are capable of using in an exercise. Less weight means less loading, which in turn means less force production. This means your improvements in strength will take much longer than they need to because you have emphasized the need to stay balanced over the need to produce force. If you still want to work on balance and continue to get strong, try incorporating some single leg training such as lunges and split squats. Have both feet either on the ground or put one on a fixed object to increase your range motion. The key is to be stable enough so that you can handle loading that is significant enough to provide a stimulus that cause an adaptation for strength. If you can master movements under load in a split stance you will be sure to see improvement in your balance as well as strength.
3) You aren’t taking any time to unload and recover
It’s great that you’re training hard, by doing so you will be rewarded with some tremendous gains in strength. However, training for strength without scaling back on your training is much like to trying to get through a wall by hitting your head against it. Sure, you may eventually get through, but you’re more likely to get injured before that happens. Same thing with non-stop strength training, the body needs time recover after 3-4 weeks of high intensity strength training otherwise. A simple adjustment is to take out the primary exercises like your squats and deadlifts and just dominate the assistance work, like your lunges, back extensions, etc. for 1 week after 3-4 weeks of intense training.
These are 3 common mistakes made in many training programs by the average athlete at the gym. By implementing 1 or more of these strategies you can be sure that you will continue to see gains in strength.