Are you training furiously in an attempt to get stronger? You may not be looking to become the World's Strongest Man or Woman, you may just want to be able to get through a tough workout or easily pick up your five-year-old.
But what happens when all the hard work and training doesn't pay off? Are you doing something wrong? Here are a few possible reasons why you're not seeing growth and progress:
1. Lack of Change
If you do the same program every day for six months, your muscles will acclimate to the workout. The key: switch things up. Do the same workout every day for four to six weeks, and then change to a new workout. Whether you change the number of reps, the type of exercise you do, or the type of weight you use, change is for the better.
2. Not Enough Intensity
When you push yourself properly, you finish your workout with zero energy left. You should be working at 70 to 100 percent intensity. What does that mean? Say you're doing a set of 12 to 15 reps—you should be able to hit 15 on the first set, but no more than 12 on the final set. When you can barely complete your workout with the proper form, you know you're doing it right.
3. Wrong Environment
Do you train at home? Perhaps you're not doing as much as you should. There's always that temptation to take things easy when you're in the comfort of your own bedroom or garage. Why not change your environment? You may find that joining a spinning class, working with a trainer or jogging in a gym will help you up the intensity and improve your results.
4. Lack of Goals
If you never plan to make progress, you never will. You should be working toward increasing the weight on each exercise and set specific goals like "increase bench press by five pounds in three weeks." These small goals help you stay focused on the results you want and can help you get stronger faster.
5. Insufficient Recovery Time
Pushing your muscles is important, but letting them rest is equally important. You should not work the same muscles out two days in a row, as that's how you stymie muscle growth. Give your muscles at least 48 hours of rest, or 72 hours if you really shred them. This will give them time to recover, which means grow new muscle fibers. You also need to eat properly, as nutrition is the key to muscle growth.
6. Too Much Time between Sets
This may sound silly, but it's true. When working out, you only need to give your muscles 30 to 45 seconds of rest between each exercise. Don't rest for too long. Use a stopwatch to help keep yourself moving from one exercise to the next.
7. Improper Technique
Improper technique won't just increase your risk of injuries, but it will also decrease your results. Maintain the proper form and make sure that you are only using the muscles that are involved in the exercise. Adding more weight may not be wise if you don't have the right form.