3 Reasons You Are Not Making Significant Strength Gains

The border between bodybuilders and fitness models is just a thin line of different approaches to exercise. So to make some serious strength gains and step into the bodybuilding land you need to avoid these 3 “mistakes”.

Exercise science is intricate, overly complex and paired with nutrition science it’s mind boggling enough to make you give it all up and adopt a simple and fulfilling burrito lifestyle. But wait, things don’t have to be that complicated!

Whether you are a seasoned gym veteran, or a scrawny newcomer in the glorious house of gains, looking to get strong and overhead press your girlfriend, or boyfriend with ease, you need to reassess these three core principles of training and optimize them for maximum strength gains.

Why You’re Not Making Strength Gains

Here are three simple but important reasons you are not making significant strength gains:

1. You Train Like A Fitness Model

Let’s get real for a moment. Are you looking to become stronger and reap the numerous health benefits of strength training? Or are you simply looking to turn heads at the beach this summer?

This is the first thing you need to ask yourself in order to observe your current training regime from an objective standpoint.

When it comes to getting stronger from the moment you begin your fitness journey, you need to manage several key principles:

  1. Intensity;
  2. Volume;
  3. Frequency;
  4. Progressive overload;
  5. Exercise selection.

Intensity, volume, and frequency are managed through periodization.

Intensity is the force you exert on an object.

Volume is the total amount of sets and reps you perform on a weekly basis.

Frequency refers to the number of times you execute a certain movement.

These elements need to be optimized to avoid plateaus, injury, and increase strength.

As a natural lifter, you want to decrease the number of reps and increase the intensity by putting more weight on the bar (progressive overload), while executing a movement more than once a week.

Lastly, you need to change your exercise selection, which refers to the specificity of training.

If your goal is to get stronger, you want to choose those exercises that will help you achieve your goal. Concretely, select compound movements as a staple of your training regime.

2. You Eat Like A Fitness Model

Fitness models train for a single purpose – aesthetics. Their main goal is to stay lean, and not to gain strength, so they eat accordingly.

The first thing you need to know is that being lean as a fitness model on a year-round basis is not healthy.

You need to find a balance, and a healthy body fat percentage for females is 18-25%, and 13-20% for men. There is no reason to go lower than that.

Next, you want to optimize your nutrition for strength gain and recovery, so you need to start tracking your calories and macronutrient intake.

Calculate your daily caloric and macro needs via a calorie calculator and start measuring your meals, dividing them into proteins, fats, and carbs.

A good place to start tailoring your diet is 40% proteins, 40% carbs, and 20% fats.

Note that everyone responds to nutrients differently, and you might benefit more from a low carb, high fat diet, or vice versa. Give it time and tailor your nutrition plan accordingly.

3. You Don’t Understand The Concept Of Recovery

You might have all of the aforementioned elements in check but you still aren’t making adequate strength gains. This is because you need to optimize the final piece of the strength-building puzzle – recovery.

Adequate recovery entails sleep, active recovery training, nutrition, mobility, and stretching exercises.

Training too often too much will lead to a strength and performance decrease, while training too little will leave pounds lingering somewhere in limbo.

A good 7-day basis for strength training is as follows:

  1. Train;
  2. Train;
  3. Active recovery;
  4. Train;
  5. Active recovery;
  6. Train;
  7. Full rest day.

To maximize results, you need eight hours of quality sleep paired with adequate stretching and mobility work. Don’t forget to do some light cardio on your active recovery days and take a full day of couch potato-ing before the next weekly cycle.

Strength science is extensive and intricate. However, if you follow these three simple rules of strength training you will be well on your way to breaching your plateaus and looking better than any fitness model on the beach!

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