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  • Writer's pictureStephanie Collins

Why Can't I Get Stronger? Troubleshooting Lack of Strength Gains

When you're looking over your progress in the gym some individuals struggle with getting consistent results. Yet others see consistent gains and improvements in either their physiques or strength. Well, my best piece of advice is to stop comparing yourself to others and focus on yourself and your chapter but that's besides the point. Sometimes lack of progress in the gym happens due to multiple factors. I'm hoping I can clarify them for you so you can correct these things.


  • Consistent training along with consistent form

It’s not likely that you will ever walk into a gym and hear a trainer say “You should do something easy today.” But one of the best lessons I’ve learned over the years is that those “slow and easy” gains really do add up. I realize that not everyone wants to wait every week for a 2-4% increase in weight but trust me those 2-4% increases add up each week if they are consistent.

Ex: If I asked you if you could add 5lbs to the bar this week you would likely say “Sure. That’s easy.” Adding two 2.5 plates every other week in a 12 week mesocycle adds 30lbs to the bar. That is nothing to scoff at or ignore, that's huge! Slow consistent gains also give the body just enough stress to grow with just enough time to properly recover. When you try to push your body too far too fast it will find another way to adapt, usually inflammation or injury. There is really nothing more important than building the habit so please stop trying to make up for inconsistency by going harder when you do show up. Take the route of adding light weight and accept that it is the path to consistent strength growth. In fact this lesson applies to most things in life.


  • Fatigue management (sleep, stress - physical and emotional).

Fatigue is defined as a state of tiredness leading to reduced mental and/or physical performance. Fatigue decreases alertness and compromises motor skills, reflex abilities, judgment and decision making. All of which can have adverse implications in not only gym performance and safety but all other aspects of life. Some individuals that I have worked with over the years will sleep 3-4.5 hours and live incredibly stressful lives physically and mentally. They often still expect to progress in the gym; where your body is placed into another stressful environment. The human body has a natural circadian rhythm and sleep is essential for maintaining health. There is no alternative or compensating for lack of sleep. My suggestion is to look over these stressors and write them down and work on them over a period of time. For me it was sleep. I had to rewind my sleep 30 minutes each month until I was getting 7.5 to 9 hours each night.


  • Assessing your diet structure and staying in a caloric surplus.

Your diet and nutrition play a huge role in overall growth and strength increases. If you want maximum results in these areas you need to make sure you increase your caloric intake and stay in a hypercaloric state. Just like the body needs to be in a caloric deficit to lose weight it needs a caloric surplus to gain weight. It’s important to understand this is not an excuse to eat anything and everything. When gaining muscle it is impossible to not gain some fat along with it. The fat gain can be minimized by choosing to eat mostly healthy foods that provide your body with nourishment and by prioritizing protein. Obviously do not keep adding calories if your weight or partitioning ratio is too high. Energy partitioning refers to what becomes of the calories

when they enter your body. Protein is used to fuel and grow muscle, fat calories are delivered to fat cells for long term storage and carbohydrates are used to meet the body’s immediate energy needs. My suggestion is to lose weight the appropriate way through multiple dieting phases and then maintain (preferably the length of said dieting phases) then add in calories to enter a hypercaloric state if you so decide.


  • Making sure your chosen exercises within your program have high responses within areas such as:

-Tension

-Pump

-Obviously causing fatigue within designated rep ranges


If you struggle with any of the above factors that can be a huge reason why you are not getting results within your fitness journey. If this was helpful at all and you would like to sit down and discuss programming or online coaching within your fitness journey, definitely reach out to myself or Stephanie. We would love to talk to you!

-Ryan


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