As a trainer, people often ask me how frequently they need to train to achieve results, and there isn’t one perfect answer: Our bodies are all different, which means they can respond differently to the same stimuli. But if you’re lifting and lifting and still not seeing results in your strength training routine, it’s probably because you’re lacking consistency in your workout or diet or both.
The process of getting stronger doesn’t have to be complicated, but keep reading for the three main reasons you may not be reaching your gains goals.
1. You’re mixing too many different modalities
To see measurable results in any fitness routine, you’ll want to stick with one primary training modality. If you’re only strength training one day a week (and spending your other sessions doing cardio), it’s going to be challenging to build muscle. The reason? Your muscle fibers won’t be exposed to the level of stress they need to grow. Muscle stress is imperative to building strength because it causes micro-tears of your muscle fibers, and when your body repairs these tears, they come back stronger. Most of my clients find success in 2 30-minute sessions with me weekly.
If your goal is to build muscle and get stronger, resistance training is your best bet. If you’re a beginner, working with your body weight is a great place to start, and as you begin to build strength, you can add more resistance with weights. And to help maximize your results and save time, your workouts should consist of compound exercises, like squats presses, walking lunges with bicep curls, and deadlifts, that target multiple areas at once and force you to exert more energy than the isolated movements that target a single area.
2. Not sticking to a workout plan
Doing the same activities over and over can feel mundane, but it’s necessary if you want to put on muscle and increase your strength—which is why it’s essential to develop a workout plan. For example, let’s say your goal is to strengthen your legs. Doing four sets of 12 deadlifts once isn’t going to make much difference – but doing that same workout for four to six weeks and progressively increasing the weight will.
In addition to your nutrition, you’ll need to focus on your recovery. Properly warming up and cooling down will better prepare you for your training sessions, and help you prevent injury and burnout. Adding mobility work into your routine can also help maximize your performance as you train, improve your overall movement, and reduce and prevent pain and injury.
Another factor to focus on is getting quality sleep; it’s recommended adults get at least seven hours of sleep each night. A good night’s rest is essential for muscle repair and growth. As you sleep, your body secretes a muscle growth hormone, which works to repair the micro-tears that occur from strength training and make your muscles stronger.
And if you’re someone who likes to mix things up, schedule activities where you can do other modalities like yoga, cycling, biking, or running.
3. Not focusing on your recovery and nutrition
Lifestyle variables—like nutrition, recovery, and sleep—also impact your ability to get stronger. You’ll want to make sure you’re eating enough to support your energy needs when you’re training and in your everyday life. Your caloric needs will vary based on your lifestyle and goals, so you will want to work with your trainer on an individualized nutrition plan for you.
Because training is nuanced and individualized, use these tips as a starting point. If you have the access and means, consider working with a certified personal trainer who can provide you with more specific tips and tools to help you reach your fitness goals.
In part from our friends at Well+ Good