You’re doing all you can to build strength and muscle in the gym. You’ve set aside dedicated time each week to lift weights. You’ve worked on your diet. Heck, you’ve even added in a few extra exercises in hopes that they will help you see more results.
But it’s not working. You’re getting weaker.
Don’t feel like you’re the only one. There are a ton of guys in the gym that show up on a daily basis to test themselves on moves like the bench press and deadlift only to see their numbers going down rather than up. This can leave lifters frustrated and ready to abandon all of their hard work. In reality, the lack of progress may be a simple fix. You might be working out too frequently or slacking on your recovery. All of these small details can make a huge different in your results. Avoid these common pitfalls to see better results and prevent a backwards slide in your workouts.
1. You're too strict with your training schedule
The desire for greater strength and muscle gains can have you working tirelessly in the gym—to your detriment, though, not your benefit. You get on the fast track to a mental or physical breakdown. If you find yourself recovering slowly after workouts or losing the desire to train altogether, give yourself a week off. You can still stay active, just keep out of the weight room. You’ll come back rested and ready for more.
2. Your recovery plan is flawed
Just putting in time with some heavy weights doesn’t necessarily mean you’re going to come back stronger. Hard lifting sessions break down your muscles. So, to help them rebuild and recover, you need an adequate amount of rest. On your off days, focus on foam rolling, stretching, and light exercise to encourage better blood flow and loosen up sore muscles.
3. You didn’t master form first
The race to add weight ultimately leaves many guys sacrificing form. You might be able to get by with less-than-optimal form with lighter loads, but technical errors begin to really impact performance when the weight gets heavy. If you're not making any real progress, slide off some weight and perfect the basics. Also, practice creating a mind-muscle connection. Think: Are you engaging your lats correctly during a deadlift? How are your shoulders positioned during a bench press? All of these small form corrections can play a major role in how much you can lift.
4. You’re slacking off
While this isn’t all-to-common among guys looking to build size, doing too little can hamper your growth. Your muscles respond to stimuli; they grow back stronger and more resilient. If the stimulus presented isn’t enough to cause a major change or disturbance in your body, you aren’t going to see much (if any) results. Ensure you’re training consistently at least three days a week to produce desired changes in your physique.
5. You’re intensity and volume are too high
Overworking is far more common than guys sloughing off in the gym. In the quest for gigantic biceps, lifters are hitting every curl variation they can find with dumbbells, cables, and anything in between. This notion more is better often leads to exhaustion. And, over time, this can lead to overtraining and decreased results. Rather than trying to hit your muscles from every angle, focus on the heavy hitters that'll get you the most results in the least amount of time. Then, add some isolation variations you like at the end to finish off your routine. Don’t think you have to go overboard for incredible results. One or two isolation exercises for your biceps at the end of your workout should be plenty when your lifting session is filled with pullups and heavy rowing variations.
6. Your diet is terrible
All the hard work can go to waste if you aren’t taking care of yourself outside of the gym. Rather than spending all your time and resources on working out 5-6 days a week and being lax with your nutrition, focus on supporting your workouts with the proper nutrition. Find your optimal protein intake and timing; make sure you're eating mostly whole foods, like fruits and vegetables, whole grains, and lean protein sources. By perfecting your nutrition, your weight training will become much more effective.
7. You’re ordering your exercises wrong
Starting your workout off with chest flyes and dips is a surefire way to decrease your performance on the bench press later on in you session. The ordering of your exercises can play a huge role in your strength levels. As a result, pick the most important exercises in your routine and put them first. That way, your muscles and nervous system will be ready to put up some huge numbers. Leave the accessory moves till later on when you’re slightly fatigued.