Why I wasn’t getting stronger

Shout out to Albert Einstein for the following quote:

“Anyone who has never made a mistake has never tried anything new.”

Thankfully, I absolutely love change. This also means I have a laundry list of stupid training and nutrition decisions.

If this post stops you from repeating even one of the following I will consider my effort a success. Also if there is any point you would like me to elaborate on further please do reach out so I can address it privately or I might even make an entire post on it.

Train Insane or Remain the Same?

Not progressively overloading

If you only read one of these, read this one. If you want to get stronger or grow a muscle, you must overload the movement or the muscle. This means what you do this week should not be what you do next week.

In 2 -3 years of “exercising” all I managed to do was regress my squat strength. Yet in the first 5.5 months of a beginner powerlifting linear progression, I added 40 pounds to it. My body responded like a “gym n00b” because for 3 years I clearly didn’t even lift.

 

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Not recording lifts or recording from bad angles

You think you know how to squat, but do you really? Why does it feel so weak? Why is your knee hurting? Why can’t you get to depth? Are you even getting to depth? There are so many questions a person can ask and 99% can be answered with videos at appropriate angles and a critical eye. Start recording.

 

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Going too hard

To get stronger, you must train at sub-maximal weights. If a 150 pounds deadlift is your 5 rep max, please do not be attempting 5 sets of 5 at 150 pounds. You will fail, you will get injured, you will wallow in self-pity for the next week.

This ties in with progressive overload because at the start of a 12 week cycle you actually need to start with relatively lighter weights that may even seem too easy. It is simply giving you room to improve over the coming weeks without frying your body immediately. I don’t care what Jimmy said to you during chest day, you do not need to got H.A.M. on every exercise, every time you step foot in a gym.

Ignoring effects of sleep, food, hydration and hormone cycles

Without fail, every single time I pulled a muscle it was because I decided to lift regardless of the fact that I slept only 5 hours, was underfed or was pms-ing.

Your strength is a very dependent on how life is treating you. Stop forcing peak performance every single time. In women, menstrual cycles have significant effects on training. A weight can easily feel light as a feather today but like an elephant just days later.

I now follow two rules: (1) I must push my workout a day later if I do not get a minimum of 7 hours of sleep, and (2) If I’m already in the gym and a weight feels too heavy, I drop the weight in order to meet the prescribed sets and reps.

You would not believe how hard it is to do this when your pride is bigger than your quads.

 

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Everyone makes mistakes, everyone has those days

Hannah Montana was on to something after all. It’s how I learned and how I continue to learn.

The list is not exhaustive, but it is definitely four things I wish someone could have just yelled in my face repeatedly. Would have spared me the pain of getting weaker, pulling muscles, having inefficient form, and feeling like a failure week after week.

Getting stronger is less about going harder and more about going smarter.  I’m not a professional coach by any means but if you feel like a lost cause and have no one to turn to don’t be afraid to ask more questions. If I don’t have the answers I will help you dig them up.

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