4 Reasons You Aren’t Getting Stronger

How do I increase my *insert your problematic lift here*? I’ve been plateaued for months somethings wrong. Maybe I just need another program. 

Unless you’ve been lifting for over a decade now. The answer to the question of “why you aren’t getting stronger” is usually rather simple. Granted just because something is simple doesn’t mean it will be easy to accomplish. That being said before you take a dive into

1. Have a Definitive Goal for your Program

As sad as it is to say you cannot be the best at everything when it comes to lifting. Figure out what it is you specifically want and chase after that with all of your focus.

The most common error you’ll see in individuals writing a program for the first time is they are trying to accomplish too much. They want to be a top tier powerlifter, and jacked, and also find time to get good a the clean and jerk. It’s not going to happen.

The training specificity that will get you stronger is different from the specificity that will get you bigger which is different than the training specificity that will allow you to run a marathon. When you focus in on one goal at a time you are able to see more rapid progress in that direction, whereas when you try to combine everything and do it all at the same time…you just end up half-assing multiple goals.

2. You Aren’t Lifting Frequently Enough

One of the biggest game changers for lifters is the realization that you can train compound movements…more than one time per week. In fact, depending on how you program things you can train the same movement many times per up to 4-5 times depending on the circumstances.

Granted this doesn’t mean I recommend shooting up to that kind of high frequency training right out of the starting gate. However, if you’ve only been squatting once per week and you’re disgruntled with your lack of gains…consider adding a second squat session to your training.

This could be as simple as doing 3 sets of 5 reps of a normal squat one day and 4 sets of 8 reps of a normal squat later in the week. If you want to get fancy with it start adding in variations…pause squats, tempo squats, pins squats, SSB, cambered bar, you name it.

3. Periodize Your Programming

There comes a certain point in every lifters life where they are no longer able to make strength progress session to session. It’s important to realize this early on, as I’ll watch individuals spend years slamming themselves into a metaphorical brick wall trying to make progress using the same exact set and rep scheme every single day.

Your program needs to be periodized to some degree. This means it’s split out into smaller more specific blocks, waves, training weeks…doesn’t matter…with specific goals for each of these smaller sections of training leading to the overall success of your long term goal.

The good news? Basically every program out there nowadays has some degree of periodization included in it…you don’t even need to know how to program it. All you need to do is run the program out as written…which brings me to my next point…

4. Give It Time

The number of times I’ve heard a lifter claim that a program “doesn’t work for them” despite not having cleared the first training block is at this point absurd.

Are their plenty of different training styles to choose from? Yes. Will some of these work for you more than others? Also yes. That being said no program is going to work if you don’t run it all the way through. 

Be honest with yourself. When’s the last time you were able to string together 12 to 16 weeks of programming without abandoning ship for a new program, completely changing your training goal halfway through, or otherwise modifying or downright skipping out on your intended program?

One of the leading causes of any lack of strength development is you aren’t actually “developing” it. Tough things out, stick with the program you have chosen for it’s entirety, and THEN make your decisions on whether or not it’s for you.

Matt Molloy

Matt Molloy

I'm a graduate the University of Pittsburgh with a major in Exercise Science. I’m a local guy (North Penn) and athletics has dominated my life. I've led teams in basketball, baseball, soccer, golf and my passion, long distance running. I've been strength training for 6 years with a focus in power-lifting but have recently stretched to strongman since joining the pride here at the Den. When I’m not in the gym I enjoy, spending time with my friends, music, and relaxing and playing some video games.