How do I get stronger? This is a question I get asked all the time. “Coach Joe, I’m in the gym training, but why am I not getting stronger?”. Getting stronger has a lot of variables. How would you begin to even answer a question like that? It’s very difficult to try and find the route cause of the problem without getting a ton more details on the matter, especially when the challenge is getting stronger. It also will take more than just a one sentence response to get the ball rolling on a solution.

So instead what I decided to do is put up some top suggestions for you guys who are stalling out on your training.

Are you following/on a program?

Programming part I

One of the biggest mistakes I see people making the most (usually novice lifters) is they do not follow a program. Or they program hop from one to the next without running the full course of the program. Most programs fall anywhere in the 8-16-week duration, and I kid you not I’ve gotten emails that have said “I’ve ran this program for 2 weeks and didn’t get any results”. Well I wonder why? You need to run the program in its entirety, exactly how it was written. Too many people want quick results when it’s going to take a lot of time and effort, especially the longer you’re in the game.

At the same time, I’ve seen people run the same program over and over again expecting a different result. If you have run the program in its entirety multiple times and stop getting results (ie. you are not getting stronger) it’s time for you to switch it up! You need something different, and most likely more volume, or more frequency in the lifts!

My suggestion is to find your goal and make it concrete. From there pick a program/coach who can get you there and trust in them while going through the process. Don’t hop from program to program, or coach to coach. See it through and this will help you progress much faster than wondering around the gym hitting random workouts. It will work when you first start lifting and are soaking up the “noobie gains” but then after that you need to change it up and get more structured.

Programming part II

When you’re on your program make sure you have structured blocks designated with certain goals. This is called block periodization.

Macrocycle:

The biggest block (overview of the program) this includes a Developmental block, accumulation block, realization/peaking. Each block being 4 weeks in length.

Mesocycle

This would be 1 of the blocks mentioned above in the macrocycle for instance in a developmental block we are focusing on more GPP work and non-specific work to increase overall work capacity as the main goal.

Microcycle

Shortest training cycle typically around a week or so focusing on something very specific in the mesocycle.

In short, have a program laid out with a starting and end point with structure to follow and ways to track data. You don’t want to be in the gym constantly just maxing out all the time, or hitting random sets and reps. Structure is also good to plan in fatigue management/recovery tools such as low stress weeks & de-loads.

More of block periodization/types of periodization done excellently by Stronger By Science click à HERE.

Don’t know where to start? check out our programs available in the store that have helped hundreds of athletes achieve their goals and smash PR’s!

What does your nutrition look like?

If you want to get stronger, you need to eat to be big and strong. On the same note, if you want to be a ripped savage, you need to eat to become one. People tell me they’re “eating like crazy” to put on size, but when I ask for their current caloric intake or macros, they can’t provide them. Talk is cheap, and you need to be about that life. You need to be tracking your food and weight so you have something to measure and data to play with. For the sake of this article since we are talking about plateaus, I will be on the “gaining weight or wanting to increase strength” side of the coin.

If you are training hard but stuck, and on a solid program I would suggest something is wrong on the recovery end. Meaning, you are not fueling your body enough throughout the day to recover from the training. You need to find your baseline calories/macros to maintain your weight and then usually I recommend adding 250-500 calories daily to that to be in a surplus.

This will steadily over time add about .5 lb a week and roughly 2 lbs per month which is a safe and sustainable increase in weight. We don’t need to be doing a “dirty bulk” stuffing our face with everything on the planet gaining lots of fat and little muscle. It’s just not worth it in the grand scheme of things.

My suggestions getting stronger with nutrition

*This can be different for everyone but here is a start*:

  • Find your baseline caloric intake (use a simple calculator on google) +/- 250-500 cal based on goals
  • Be getting in .8-1g of protein per lb of body mass
  • Consume %30 of your carbs pre training and %30 of carbs post training (keep fats away from training window)
  • Fats can be in all other meals broken up however
  • Drink a good amount of water throughout the day (different depending on height/weight) your pee should be clear-ish with a little yellow.

Eat for your goals, if you want to be strong, you got to let go of the idea of keeping your pretty six-pack. Go ALL in, don’t half ass it. If you want to cut, know you may lose a little bit of strength on your total, but that’s okay because it’s not the goal.

Are you getting enough sleep?

If I can give you one of the most simple and easy tools to help with performance it’s getting better sleep. It’s not sexy and sellable, but it will make a big difference! Now this is hard for some due to jobs/lifestyles etc… but do your best to get as much quality sleep as possible. When we sleep this is actually when the recovery and growth is taking place, not when we are in the gym. It also helps maintain muscle, balance hormones, helps the immune system, and much more! Aim to get 7-8 hours of sleep per night.

Having trouble sleeping? Here are 10 basic bed time habits you can get into to help sleep better throughout the night!

  • More bright light during the day (go out into the sun/nature more)
  • No blue light or screen activity 1 hour prior to bed (phones, tv’s, tablets etc)
  • Reduce caffeine consumption close to caffeine (caffeine half-life is average 5 hours)
  • Wake up at the same time consistently (even on weekends)
  • Try a melatonin supplement
  • Reduce any external noise in the bedroom
  • Reduce bedroom temperature to (average for best sleep is 60-67 degrees)
  • Try a relaxing breathing technique before bed (I’ve used the apps Calm & Headspace sleep guides)
  • Reduce liquid intake prior to bed so you don’t have to get up and use the bathroom disturbing the sleep cycle
  • Exercise regularly

Hopefully these tips help you break through your plateau you are facing, if you have further questions feel free to send us an email and we can further help you out with what’s going on!

Joey Szatmary

Joey Szatmary

Founder of Szat Strength and current Overall 2019 National Heavy Weight Strongman Champion.