Strength is kind of a big deal. It’s what allows us to pick up that bag of groceries off the floor without blowing our back out. It’s what keeps us from getting injured on the playing field, whether you are a professional athlete or not. And it’s undoubtedly the foundation behind many of the “qualities” we’re chasing in the weigth room, fort speed, agility, power, of just looking good with our clothes off.
Unfortunately for some, despite knowing better, and despite their best efforts, they’re just not getting stronger. NO matter what routine they follow or how many days per week they weight now as they were weeks or even months prior. Are you making the mistakes below?
While it’s the most obvious place to start, surprisingly, there are many trainees who fail to grasp the notion that progressive overload is key when it comes to strength. Simply stated: The body will adapt to any stress placed upon it, and in order to get stronger, you need to make certain that you force the body to do so.
Many know the story of the Greek god, Milo, who, as a young boy, made it a point to carry a small heifer over his shoulder every day. Each and every day, for years, Milo would carry the heifer, and as the heifer grew and became a full-grown cow, Milo, too, grew. So much so that stories of his strength have lived on forever in Greek mythology.
There are numerous ways to approach progressive overload and make any exercise more challenging. Adding more sets, decreasing rest intervals, and increasing range of motion are some of the more common components.
The most evident, however, and in many cases, the most neglected, is to simply increase the weight or load of an exercise by adding a little weight each and every week.
It doesn’t have to be more complicated than that.
It could be as simple as adding five more punds to the barbell on your squats; or maybe just grabbing the next heaviest pare of dumbbells on your next set of presses. Either way, unless you’re making a concerted effort to challenge your body and force it to adapt to heavier loads consistently, you’ll never make much progress.
Doing Too Much
We live in a society that celebrates excess. It’s not uncommon for someone to own more than one car, or even more than one house. Likewise, when it comes to training, many people are of the mentality that more is better. If traning three days per week is good, then logic would dictate that training every… single… day… until you can’t feel the left side of your face, or you cough up your spleen, whichever comes first, must be even better, right?
Fatigue will mask an individual’s true fitness level. In other words: Making yourself tired for the sake of making yourself tired, and accumulating more and more fatigue is a tried and true recipe for zapping your strength.
As an example, let’s say you go ahead and figure out what your one-rep max is for the deadlift. Afterwards, you go out and run 10 miles. Upon your return you decide to re-test your deadlift. What are the chances you’ll even sniff that original number? Probably you’d have a better shot at winning the lotery and getting struck by lightning in the same day.
To that end, it’s often beneficial to implement structured de-load weeks where the goal is to allow the body to rest and recover. There are a multitude of ways to approach a de-load week: Decrease total reps, decrease total number of exercises performed, omit direct spinal loading, maybe even take a week and perform outdoor activities rather than hit the gym.
The point is, in order to make consitent progress, it’s imperatieve to give your body a break every now and then.
Hang Out With the Right People
Lastly, if you want to get better at chess, you hang out with people who play chess. If you want to get better a computer programming, you hang out with people who program computers. If you want to get better at never getting laid, you hang out a Star Trek conventions.
Likewise, if you want to get stronger, you need to hang out with people who have the same passion as yourself, will push you to get better, and more importantly, are much, much stronger than you.