The Strength and Conditioning Coach out at WPI, Morgan, hears this all the time: I’m working out a ton, hitting weights and cardio, but I’m just not getting as strong as I thought I would as quickly as I’d hoped.
There are lots of potential reasons why your strength isn’t building as quickly as you thought it should. And the good news is that there are many simple ways to close the perception-reality gap.
Let’s look at some of the reasons that might be behind your strength gap, and some easy ways to address them.
You need sleep. Obviously, if you’re getting up at 4:30 every day to work out you know you need sleep, but even people who lose the battle with the snooze alarm at 7 or 8 might not be getting adequate rest.
Sleep is magical. It lets the body rest and cells and tissue repair themselves. And it’s essential for cognitive processing, so you can retain and consolidate memories of new skills that you’ve learned.
Every day we learn more about the importance of sleep, and the need for people of all ages to get enough sleep.
That brings up the tricky question: How much sleep is enough? For most people, enough sleep is between seven and nine hours of generally uninterrupted sleep – sleep where you might wake up once or twice briefly during the night but quickly fall back asleep.
If your sleep isn’t great, it could be because of a variety of factors:
- Eating right before bed
- Too much caffeine or other stimulants later in the day
- Screen time right before bed
If you don’t feel you’re sleeping well, try changing one of these variables and see what happens – not only to your sleep but your energy level and strength. You may be pleasantly surprised.
Maybe you don’t want to hear that your diet is behind your lack of strength, but we’ll say it anyway: Diet might be behind your lack of strength.
Food is energy to keep your body functioning. It fuels you to meet the demands of your workout, and it helps rebuild muscles post-workout.
You probably know all that, but what you might be overlooking is how important it is to get all macronutrients (carbs, protein, fat) and micronutrients into your diet.
Supplements can help with some of this, but the real key is eating the right things to begin with as opposed to supplementing after eating.
Questions on this? We can help.
Not Being Gradual
The key to building strength from a workout perspective is progressively overloading the body. Gradually increasing the stress on the musculoskeletal and neuromuscular systems is very important in the strength-building process.
That means increasing weight, reps, and sets in a logical, progressive manner. It also can mean adding a factor of instability into the work you do, to help improve your real-world strength.
Increasing these variables and progressively overloading the muscles forces the body to keep adapting its muscular-force output and fiber recruitment – building strength, in other words.
Intensity and effort really are the keys here. Keeping intensity and effort low really limits the potential for strength gains. Increasing intensity and the amount of effort required leads to strength gains.
In addition, you have to stick with it. Strength is a use-it-or-lose-it proposition. Your body de-training is a real thing. Enough inconsistency and time off from weight training can lead to your muscular adaptations – your strength-building – being undone.
On the other hand, if you stick with your strength training, muscular adaptations can happen more quickly and consistently. You not only gain strength more easily, but you retain it more readily.
It’s sort of a cliché, but when it comes to strength-building, there really is no substitute for hard work – and not only hard work, but hard, consistent work.
Wisconsin Performance Institute has the people, the equipment, and the methodology to help you build strength. If that’s your goal, and you feel it isn’t happening according to the schedule you have in your head, they’d be happy to chat. The’ll be able to help.