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 only 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 won't take extended time off.

The desire for more strength and muscle can leave you working tirelessly in the gym. All of this training can lead to a mental and physical breakdown. If you find yourself recovering slowly after workouts or losing the desire to train altogether, give yourself a week off from training. You can still stay active, just keep out of the weight room. You’ll come back rested and ready for more.

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2. Your recovery plan is flawed.

Just putting in time with the weights doesn’t necessarily mean you’re going to come back stronger. Hard lifting sessions break down your muscles. The magic to strength lies in helping them rebuild and recover. If you’re pushing your muscles to the limit without taking time for recovery, you’re missing a huge part of the equation. On your off days, focus on foam rolling, stretching, and light exercise to encourage better blood flow and loosen up sore muscles leaving you better rested when you come back for more.

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3. You didn’t master form first.

The race to add weight ultimately leaves many guys sacrificing form. They may be able to get by with less-than-optimal movement with lighter loads, but form errors begin to really become noticeable when the weight gets heavy. If you find yourself constantly going backward on major lifts, slide off the weight and practice the basics. 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.

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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 - growing 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 that you’re training consistently at least three days a week to produce desired changes in your physique.

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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 that more must be better carries over into their entire routine leading them to exhaust themselves every day in the weight room. Over time, this can lead to overtraining and decreased results. Rather than trying to hit your muscles from every angle imaginable, focus on the heavy hitters that will get you the most results in the minimum 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 pull-ups and heavy rowing variations.

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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. Supporting your workouts with proper nutrition will make a huge difference in your results. Rather than spending all of your time and resources on working out 5-6 days a week while leaving your nutrition to take care of itself, spread your time equally. Focus on balancing out your diet and including optimal protein intake surrounding your workouts. By perfecting your nutrition, your weight training will become much more effective.

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7. You’re ordering your exercises wrong.

Starting your workout off with chest flies 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.

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