Training

Why Am I Not Getting Stronger | How To Get Over Plateaus

May 21st 2020

Reaching a plateau is one of the most common issues you will face in your weightlifting journey.

And because how big of problem plateauing is for all weightlifters, you will find all sorts of misinformation online on ways to bust through a plateau only to find when implementing those tips, you are stuck at the same weight or are even weaker.

I know too far well the feeling of sticking at the same weight for months, trying out things I learned from the internet, and still winding up stuck at the same weight regardless of what I did.

In this article, we will discuss some of the common programming errors that might be preventing you from increasing your strength.

Also, we will go over some of the solutions you can implement to ensure that you won’t be stuck in a plateau for long ever again.

But before we get started, let’s discuss what some of the issues be with your program which might be causing you to plateau.

Why is your program not increasing your strength?

For the following section, we will go over the steps you should take to evaluate your training to see where things may be going wrong.

With each step, I offer tips on overcoming the problem.

We will start from the bottom of the pyramid going up, getting more specific as the list goes further on.

If you find your issues lies somewhere on the bottom of the pyramid, then that should be your primary focus to fix rather than looking at any of the higher levels.

With that being said, let’s get into the first reason why you might not be increasing strength and that is because your program sucks.

Are you following a good program?

Is the program you are currently following a program that has been used before by hundreds or thousands of people?

Is it something that has its own subreddit, can you easily find it on YouTube, and is it a program that most gym-goers have heard of?

If that isn’t the case, then you might want to take a step back and try a more well-known program.

This isn’t to say that less popular programs won’t work, but there’s a reason why popular programs are well-known and shared by many people.

It’s because they work for a wide variety of individuals.

Think about it, let’s say you are following a program found on the forums of bodybuilding.com 20 years ago by some user that isn’t even active anymore.

At first glance, the program might seem good, it might seem viable, but is it something that has already been tried and tested?

Has anybody else ran the program and if so, did they get any results?

If you cannot find any of this information, then I think you should give a tried and true program a run first before you start complaining about why you are plateauing.

It’s so easy to write a workout program but it is hard to write a good one that gets results.

The program may be suited for the individual who wrote it, but there might be some reason why the program is not suitable for you.

What I mean by this is that there is no one-sized fight all approach in weightlifting.

Some exercises, rep schemes, exercise orders, and workout routines can achieve great results for one person but not as great results for others.

Because of this, as a beginner, you should be looking at programs that have been proven time and time again that can help beginner lifters start from zero to being able to lift hundreds of pounds in months.

After you get a few years of lifting experience under your belt, could you start implementing techniques/exercises from different programs because at that point you have the experience to be able to tell whether or not something will work for you?

So, the first step figuring out why you are not increasing strength is reevaluating your program and following a tried and true program that has been proven time and time again by people all over the globe.

One such program we recommend is starting strength 5x5.

Are you following the program correctly?

From my experience, most programs come with additional information that you need to follow such as how to progress your lifts, what days you should rest, how much rest you should be taking between sets, etc.

When following a program, there are a lot of other factors to keep in mind besides what exercises to do.

Getting stronger is not usually due to finding the best exercise, but by performing all your exercises properly.

You want to make sure that you are following your program to the tee.

You want to follow your program on how the original creators meant for it to be followed.

If you are not gaining strength and you are also not following the program correctly, then it’s no wonder why.

If you are not even following the program correctly, how can you accurately gauge what the problem is that may be preventing you from progressing.

So, with that being said, it is very important that you follow your program the way it was originally designed.

If not, then the program is useless and it’s meaning is lost.

Are you training hard enough?

You could be following the right program, you could be doing everything you should be doing, but are you working hard enough?

Working out is tiring.

You should be pushing yourself to the brim of failure with each exercise.

This is how you provide your muscles the stimulus it needs to grow.

If you are not training hard enough, if your muscles are not experiencing enough stress, then you simply will not get stronger.

If that is the case, this might be the reason why you are not gaining any strength.

Think back to when you are working out.

When you finish your set, how many more reps do you think you can do.

If you are leaving any number more than 1-2 reps left in the tank, then you are not working hard enough.

In that case, you should either increase the weight or increase the number of repetitions you are lifting in order to give your muscles the stress that it needs.

If that doesn’t help, then perhaps you need to find a program that is more challenging for you.

A new program can make things more challenging by increasing the number of days you go to the gym, or by implementing advanced workout techniques like pyramid sets, supersets, or drop sets.

Either way, you need to be putting in more work and if your program is not allowing you to do so, you need to find one that does.

Are you sleeping enough?

If you are not getting 9+hours of sleep every single day, your programming is not at fault.

Get yourself to bed and make sure you recover.

It is literally night and day when you get a good night’s rest versus getting piss poor sleep.

Are you eating enough?

If you want to make steady progress, you will also need to make gains in the kitchen as well. 

This means you will need to eat more.

Food is your fuel source and it is what makes you stronger.

Lifting weights is just an activity to express your strength.

This is one reason why so many Strongman competitors eat 10k+ calories a day.

They fuel their bodies to train hard.

Not improving at the gym

If it has been at least a year since you made any progress in the gym, then keep on reading.

Adhere to these suggestions and you will most likely break out of your training slump.

Stop using so many exercise variations

If you are still a beginner, you just need to follow your program strictly.

Do not change anything except your diet and lifting mindset.

Leave the programming alone and let that train your body.

If you do too many random exercises, you will not get stronger since your body is not getting focused on improving on a selected few exercises.

Stop skipping the gym

Even if you are tried, do not skip the gym.

One responsibility you need to hold yourself accountable for is that you need to NEVER skip a gym session.

It must be done and it will be done. 

Slow strength gains

Slow and steady strength progress is the key to longevity in lifting weights.

Why?

Because you won’t be blinded by ego or its rewards if you need to sacrifice and endure suffering to acquire the treasure.

A lot of people think they can get stronger by just finding another program. 

But if you are a beginner or intermediate lifter (don’t know where you are? If you are not squatting 500lbs for 5 reps, you can still make progress with ANY program), any program will guarantee your progress.

What is the rush?

If you will be lifting weights for a very long time, what is the rush?

Why do you need to demand a certain amount of weight to increase per year? 

Your body does not know the difference.

It just knows that it needs to overcome resistance.

But if you are carefully training correctly and fueling your body adequately, you will get to your goals, one way or another.

Control your ego

Do not fall victim to this classic gym error or any of these gym mistakes.

One reason why we want to progress so fast is that we are addicted to ourselves.

However, the gym iron does not care about you nor your feelings.

If you are strong enough, the weight will let you know. And you will know as well.

Humble yourself and view strength training as a learning experience, to teach yourself how to practice delayed gratification.

And also, you will learn lessons that you may not think is possible from just lifting weights in the gym.

Summary

Whether or not you can increase your strength will depend heavily on what program you are following, whether or not you are following it correctly, and if you are training hard enough.

Workout programs are necessary for those wanting to get bigger or stronger in the most efficient way.

Good programs are written by trainers who have helped a wide magnitude of people and have years of weightlifting knowledge and experience.

By following a tried and true program and running it the way the creators originally wanted you to run it, you will be able to prolong your strength gains without plateauing.

Which brings me to the last point I want you to leave off with.

Plateauing is a natural stage for weightlifting.

What matters is how you can get over it.


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