by: Brandon Richey
5 Things That Are Killing Your Strength Gains!
Everybody appreciates a good villain when they sit down to read a story or to watch a kick ass action movie. The stout looking Gent pictured above is Goldfinger’s famous henchman Odd Job from the original 007 movie. I know it’s old school, but this guy was a handful. He was quite the killer and today that’s why I’m going to be talking about some other killers that you may not be aware of. These killers are damaging your progress in the weight room and if you have your own “Odd Job” to fight then you better read up so that you will know how to win, otherwise you’re going to get beaten up pretty bad.
Are You Killing Your Strength Gains?
So today I decided to dive in to look at some general practices that people engage in that relate to strength training, or lack thereof when it comes to making big gains. I’m not saying you’re guilty, but if you are then this list will help to steer you back in the right direction. Ok so here we go…3,2,1 and…
1. Too Many Isolation Movements…Curls For The Girls?: Ok, I know we all want to have a nice set of “guns” to show off at the beach or while driving down the street with the arm hanging out the window. Isolation movements such as arm curls, leg extensions, leg curls, etc. are great if you happen to be a bodybuilder, but in terms of building strength and improving one’s performance engaging in these movements are a lot like choosing to fight Odd Job with both arms and legs tied up. In other words it’s just not a good idea.
Big strength gains are acquired with big strength movements, period. By neglecting this or overemphasizing the act of incorporating isolation movements into your strength training you are absolutely killing your strength gains. Big movements such as squats, deadlifts, and bench press build big strength. As a performance athlete overemphasizing isolation movements you could potentially be creating a recipe for disaster in the form of faulty movement patterns.
Don’t get me wrong, I’m not totally against these, but in my opinion the frequency and emphasis on isolation/single joint movements should be kept to a minimal compared to the big strength lifts.
2. Not Eating Enough!: Look you’ve got to feed a growing body, period. When you stress the body during training it is using up all of it’s stored energy sources and is left depleted after putting in the effort of throwing around some iron. Unless you’re a vegetarian you need plenty of lean meat protein to heal soft tissue damage and an array of vegetables for your remaining health functions.
If you starve your body of good fats and proteins you are either going to end up being a skinny fat weakling, or just a fat weakling. The point is that neither of these options is good, or healthy for that matter. If you want to build lean hard muscles and look like a chiseled work of art then make sure you are eating good fats and proteins along with a healthy serving of fruits and vegetables.
3. Avoiding Ground Based Lifts: Look, the bottom line is that if your program primarily consists of you performing a lift by either lying on your back, lifting from a machine, or from lifting in a seated position you’re neglecting a ton of stabilizing factors with your body. By avoiding these key elements you are killing the opportunity for your body to optimally acquire strength, as well as achieving a sound level of functionality.
Your body responds best to lifting and moving in patterns. Your muscles are designed to move and function together as a unit which is why we are born with 2 arms and 2 legs. If you are an able bodied individual you have no excuses. Use those 2 arms and 2 legs to optimize your strength gains by lifting heavy shit off the ground, period.
4. Too Much Steady State Cardio: Look, I’m all about heart health and having a sound base of cardiovascular conditioning, but where I may differ from a lot of folks is how I go about acquiring it. I’m not opposed to someone going out for a good long jog, but I am opposed to someone that models their training after nothing but a bunch of good long jogs.
Look, steady state cardio is fine, but if you emphasize this at the expense of hitting the weight room then you are killing your strength gains. Conditioning is great, but understand more often than not when I talk about conditioning I’m generally referring to sprinting, jump roping, footwork drills, and either pushing or pulling some kind of load such as a sled or person.
Effective conditioning will actually enhance your strength gains instead of being a killer to it. Take the time to include a solid level of conditioning into your program and your strength gains will keep on coming.
5. Being Too Closed Minded: This one is a biggie for me. I know you’re familiar with what I’m talking about here. I’m talking about those coaches/trainers/trainees that say that there is one way or the highway, period! These are the guys/girls that make comments such as I do Crossfit and nothing else, or I do Strongman and nothing else, or I do the P90 Extra Insanely Bad Crazy Shit and nothing else. I know you know the type.
The point is that if you box yourself into a corner chances are you are not allowing yourself to experience a training stimulus that could be very beneficial to you acquiring a much needed physical trait within the scope of your strength training program. By being closed minded you are only setting yourself up for limits and I personally don’t like having limitations put on me in any form, and neither should you.
It’s all about planning. I heard a great quote from Zach Even-Esh once that stated “If you fail to plan, you plan to fail!” This is more true than you could ever imagine my friend.
Please feel free to leave your questions or comments in the comment box below this article. Remember that most anyone can train hard, but only the best train smart. Start your smart training today my friend.