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4 Reasons You’re Not Getting Any Stronger No Matter How Much You Work Out

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Gaining muscle and strength is actually quite easy when you start training. “Your muscles go through a learning process, so almost anything you do triggers growth,” says Mike Boyle, ATC, of Mike Boyle Strength and Conditioning in Woburn, Massachusetts. “But eventually your muscles adapt, and you have to train smarter to see results.”You’ve no doubt experienced this wall—often called a plateau—where no matter what you do, the progress isn’t coming. If you want to keep progressing, you need to challenge your muscles in new and innovative ways. Start by purging your fitness plan of these common pitfalls.

MISTAKE #1: YOU DON’T TRAIN YOUR LEGS.

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Mistake #1: You don’t train your legs.

For many people, and especially men, workouts are top-heavy. “They focus too much on the mirror muscles—the chest and arms,” Boyle says. A sign of true fitness is a muscular backside. “Your largest muscles are in your lower body, and training them releases hormones that build size and strength everywhere else.”

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Mistake #2: You run too much.

Logging miles isn’t a total waste of time, “but it’s close,” Boyle says. This is because your body adapts quickly to repetitive movement, and that’s running in a nutshell. “Plus, running doesn’t activate your fast-twitch muscle fibers,” he says, which are great fat burners and body builders.

Try this: Intervals—short bursts of intense activity followed by active rest. Set a treadmill to an 8% incline and run for 30 seconds. Then rest for 1 minute. Do this 10 times. This type of training leads to gains in aerobic and anaerobic performance that are significantly greater than with steady-state cardio, according to a recent study in the Journal of Strength and Conditioning Research.

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Mistake #3: You lift too slowly.

Explosive lifting leads to fast gains. Why? “It activates more fast-twitch muscle fibers, which have the greatest growth potential,” Boyle says. “So lift like you mean it.” You’ll also crank up your heart rate, increasing your calorie burn.

Try this: Do the lifting phase of each exercise as fast as possible. The actual speed of the lift doesn’t matter. “As long as the movement is explosive,” says Boyle, “your body will recruit fast-twitch fibers.” Then take at least 2 seconds to lower the weight.

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Mistake #4: You stay in your comfort zone.

Professional athletes don’t sharpen their games by working on their strengths; they also eliminate weaknesses. So should you. “Doing only the moves you’re familiar with is a cop-out,” Boyle says.

Originally Posted on prevention

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