Why You’re Not Making Any Gains

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Fat Loss Stalled?  Hypertrophy stalled?  Strength stalled?  

There are many reasons why this could be :  inadequate diet for your goals, lack of sleep (less than 7-9 hours) poor desire or mental fortitude, inability to handle your stressors, inadequate supplementation, nutrient deficiencies, doing too much cardio, doing the wrong type of cardio, training too often, training too little, you out party Keith Richards….


Your not trying to make your exercises harder!

The bottom line is, your body likes the path of least resistance.  This is a survival mechanism honed over thousands of years of evolution.   This is what ensures your survival.  So when you commit to a new exercise or new training program your body essentially says “well this sucks, better adapt so it is easier next time” – hence the need for constant new stimulus to maintain a constant state of progression.  An exercise is only as good as the time it takes you to adapt to it

The best coaches strive to constantly make your exercises harder – not easier!

So how do you make an exercise harder without adding more weight?  Because eventually your strength will top out.  And eventually you will have to start looking at harder ways to do an exercise in order to bring up your weak points.  The best strength coaches in the world look at your weak points in a lift, strengthen them, which then in turn enables you to progress again at the chosen lift.  Example : working on your triceps to bring up your bench, working on your shoulders to bring up your bench, working on your scapular stability to bring up your bench, working on your external rotators to bring up your bench,  working on your ability to rip the bar apart to bring up your bench, working on your bar path to bring up your bench…

Knowing how to assess and pin point weaknesses in a given lift is some elite level coaching right there so what can the intermediate to advanced gym goer do to burst through a plateau?

Here are 2 simple variations to get you going :

The first thing you might want to try is :

1. Pauses

Think of your muscles as elastic bands.  Springy, bouncy elastic bands.  A stretch-shorten cycle (SSC) is defined as an eccentric contraction (lowering) followed by an immediate concentric contraction (raising).  Any normal rep you do in the gym has a SSC.  During the stretch phase of an exercise, elastic structures in the muscle store elastic energy which is returned during the concentric phase of the motion.  The transition between eccentric and concentric must be immediate for the elastic energy to be returned.  If the transition between eccentric and concentric is not immediate, the energy is dissipated within the muscle.  This eccentric phase of the exercise elicits the stretch reflex which then increases the activation of the muscle that was stretched resulting in a more forceful contraction.  The eccentric phase ‘preloads’ the muscle so to speak

So, pause at the bottom of a squat for 2 – 5 seconds to allow the stored elasticity to dissipate.  Now you have use pure brute strength to get out of the hole.  No bounce, no spring, no recoil.  You will have to lighten the load initially when starting out with this method.

Below Dmitry Klokov does a 5 second pause on a 250kg front squat……

( Now i’ll be the first to admit that the above is a brutally strong man doing a brutally long pause with a brutally large weight!  
So for us mere mortals a simple variation would be 6 front squats with a 2 second pause at the bottom…sheeesh 250kg )

2. Add chains or bands to accommodate the strength curve of certain exercises

Adding chains to the bar in a squat or deadlift for example makes the weight progressively heavier as you come up from the bottom position.   In the bottom position more chain is on the floor and the total weight of the bar and chain is lighter.  As you come up less chain is on the floor making the bar heavier as you get into a stronger and stronger or mechanically advantageous position.  This technique allows you to train the lockout on deadlifts, squats and presses amongst other things 

Hopefully that gives you some ideas on how to burst through some plateau’s.

If you want to implement some plateau busting ideas and learn how you can train with me 3 times a week for less than the price of 1 normal PT session – click here

See you in the gym