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20 Reasons Your Strength Program Is Failing You

20 Reasons Your Strength Program Is Failing You

  1. Do you struggle to make significant gains in your strength program? 
  2. Are you not building the lean strong functional physique you desire to have? 
  3. Are you at a loss for answers and frustrated with the lack of results? 
  4. Do you feel bombarded with the science and abundance of information? 

If you answered “yes” to any, or all of these questions then I’m going to try to clear all of it up and explain why your strength program is failing here with these top 20 reasons. The goal here is to present to you a simple checklist that you can scan down to check off where you’re experiencing problems in your own training so that you can make the changes you need for some real results.

Reasons Your Strength Program Is Failing You

Brandon Richey grabbing a kettlebell for strength program

Make sure you don’t allow your strength program to fail you because you excluded kettlebells from your training. Jump on my 120 Day Functional Fitness Program now by clicking the image here above.

1) Not enough multi-joint movement:

If you’re spending the majority of your time doing tricep extensions, bicep curls, leg extensions, and hamstring curls when you walk into the gym then you’re not training to get the most bang for your buck. To turn the table on this make sure you engage in more multi-joint movements. Include a healthy dose of squats, deadlifts, and presses into your strength program and scale down to the smaller single joint movements.

2) Nutritional imbalance: 

You may have a handle on how to eat healthy, but depending on whether you’re trying to put on muscle mass, or lean down your caloric intake and nutritional balance must be on point. If you’re looking at building lean muscle mass one way to ensure this is to make sure your protein intake is adequate.

There’s no one size fits all with protein intake, but assuming your vigorously active in strength the NSCA recommends you take in between .8 and 1 gram per pound of bodyweight. Additionally you need to be balanced in fruit, vegetable, and all necessary nutrients for optimal strength gains.

3) Lack of full range of motion (ROM):

Over the years I’ve stumbled into a gym or two and witnessed many people performing a bench press or a squat with a complete lack of ROM. If you want to build strong lean muscle you’ve to learn to move throughout a full ROM.

Black and white image of a man doing the cobra stretch coming out of the Yoga downward dog pose.

Bodyweight strength and calisthenic work are an integral part of developing total body strength. It’s the one way you can get proficient with moving your body the way it was intended. Jump on the bodyweight drills included in my 120 Day program by clicking the image here above!

4) Not enough bodyweight strength:

Bodyweight strength movements such as push-ups, squats, and pull-ups are at the foundation of building strength and lean muscle mass. If you can handle your own body resistance then you’re going to develop more strength and stability for great muscle gains. If you’re lacking in this department your strength and conditioning is compromised.

5) Lack of proper activation:

Your body and muscular system is a kinetic chain. In other words your muscles are like links in a chain and a chain is only as strong as it’s weakest link. Many times when performing a certain exercise or movement you might not be properly firing muscles to maintain stability in that movement. Make sure that you train your body as a whole to ensure proper muscle activation during all movements.

6) Lack of grip strength:

Your grip is the first point of contact for many lifts and movements. If you can’t pull that heavier deadlift because your grip is giving out then you’re limiting your potential. Focus on improving your grip strength.

7) Lack of core stability: 

Core stability is absolutely essential for movement and performance. The purpose of your core center mass is to stabilize your body particularly at your spine. Having core stability is training your body for the act of bracing in order to keep you firm and rigid during certain and lifts and movements. Make sure you focus on your core strength development.

Man in the start position for a sprint wearing blue socks.

HIIT workouts are great for building anaerobic work capacity and are a huge part of my 120 Day program. With greater work capacity you can perform more work within a shorter amount of time due to improved recovery. Improve your recovery by jumping on my 120 day program by clicking the image here above.

8) Not enough HIIT workouts: 

If you’re looking to enhance strength, lean muscle development, and athleticism then you need to be engaging in some HIIT workouts at least once or twice per week. HIIT workouts are great for blowtorching calories and helping to ramp up your metabolism so that you can build lean muscle mass much faster.

9) No deload weeks: 

Assuming you’re aggressive and disciplined in your training you need to plan deload weeks to preserve your joint integrity and allow your body some recovery time to build up to the following week’s training intensity. Deload weeks typically involve you scaling back your lifting, or avoiding lifting altogether by sticking to bodyweight strength, some light conditioning, and mobility work. I recommend your deload week be an active recovery week.

10) Too much aerobic activity: 

If you’re engaging in aerobic activity to the point that it is an imbalance to your strength work then you can definitely set yourself up to lose some lean muscle gains. Too much aerobic activity and not of enough strength can throw your body into a catabolic state. Essentially you can cause your body to lose muscle mass which will in turn actually slow your metabolism.

Man carrying an atlas stone on his right shoulder with his back to the camera.

Functional strength is vital if you expect to live and to develop a body that is resistant to injury. Functional strength is about lifting heavy weight up and putting it down. There’s plenty of that here in my 120 day program. Click the image here above to learn more!

11) Not enough functional movement: 

This one is a biggie. At the end of the day your body is designed for performance. Your body is a machine designed to do work. So you need to make sure your strength and conditioning program consists of movements that involve pushing, pulling, ground based movement, and loaded carries.

12) Not enough stretching and movement preparation: 

If you’re like me and are more prone to being tight and stiff in the hips then you need to invest the time to unlock those tight joints. If you’re battling with stiffness and can’t move in a full ROM with your major joints then your major lifts are going to suffer. Invest the time to improve your stretching and mobility.

13) Poor programming: 

When looking at your training cycle you need to have a sound plan in place. You need to be able to clearly identify your goal and create your strength training program in order to help you to achieve that goal. So if your goal is to build muscle mass and strength then you don’t want a training plan that neglects the heavy lifting sets to achieve those objectives.

14) A lack of push and pull programming: 

When training for muscle and strength you’ve got to combine push and pull movements. The push and pull combination (aka agonist/antagonist training) is a great way to build strength, symmetry, and balance with your training. By performing a push related movement and then following up a pull related movement you’re covering your bases for lean muscle development and function. You can perform the push/pull combo by either doing supersets, or alternating sets.

15) Too little sleep: 

Sleep is a huge part of recovery. If you’re only getting 6 hours of sleep a night and you’re working and training like hell to build strength and lean muscle mass then you’re not giving your body enough sleep. A lot of muscular repair and recovery occurs at night when you’re asleep. If you’re not getting enough of it you’re causing your gains to stall out.

16) Not hydrated enough:

If you’re dehydrated then you’re setting yourself back in terms of recovery. Once again the gains come when you’re at rest following an intense training session. Dehydration can cause muscle cramping, can make you fatigue, and will prolong your muscle soreness. A good rule of thumb is to take in about an ounce of water per pound of bodyweight. So if you’re like me and are tipping the scales at 180 lbs. then you want to try to take in 180 ounces. If you’re really losing fluid in hot temperature conditions then you may need more.

Brandon performing the deadlift with 315 lbs. for reps.

Setting a new deadlift PR takes discipline and consistency. I was able to set a PR here back in the summer of 2018. Learn more by clicking the image above.

17) Lack of posterior chain development: 

If you’re serious about developing those “show” muscles (muscles in the front of your body like chest and abs) then you can’t ignore the “Go” muscles. Your “Go” muscles are the posterior muscles, or muscles made up of the back side of your body. These include your back (lats), glutes, shoulders, hamstrings, and calves. If you want to make strength and muscle gains you’ve to develop your posterior muscles.

18) Not enough loaded carries:

Loaded carries such as farmer’s walks, shoulder carries, and zercher carries are great drills to build tremendous core stability. This is the case because these movements teach you how to maintain strict rigidity to maintain support and control over your body. Perform more of these in your program if you want to put an end to your strength program failing.

Man performing a kettlebell swing and the image has captured the end of the kettlebell at the peak of the swing at the lifter's chest height.

Pictured here is Brandon Richey Fitness student Jeremy crushing down some kettlebell swings to enhance his work capacity during a functional strength session. Learn more by clicking the image.

19) Lack of kettlebell work:

Kettlebells are tremendous for optimizing mobility, stability, and building on a high level of conditioning. Kettlebells require some technical skill, but then again that’s the point. After all, everything else does as well. Understand that kettlebells are versatile and you can use them either as a primary training tool, or a great way to supplement your other strength work.

20) No change in the speed of a strength movement: 

One way you can develop some significant lean muscle gains and challenge yourself during your training is to change up the speed of how you perform certain strength movements. For instance, if you’re performing the barbell bench press you can change up the speed of the bar movement to vary the tension and exertion of the strength movement. Lower the bar slowly and all the sudden you’re maximizing tension. Perform a fast press and all the sudden you’re developing speed and power.

Reasons Your Strength Program Is Failing: The Takeaway

At the end of the day there may only be one or two reasons your strength program is failing you, or there may be many reasons. As a result, the key is being able to recognize where you’re falling short so that you can make the necessary adjustments.

Which one of these is causing your strength program to stall out? 

Are you covering your bases with all 20 of these listed areas of concern? 

Post up and share here in the comments below. 

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3 Push Up Variations To Give You Knock Out Punching Power For MMA And Combat

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I'm a Certified Strength And Conditioning Specialist (CSCS) and author. I have had over 17 years experience in MMA fitness, strength and conditoning, and athletic performance for most every sport. As an author and specialist I've written close to a million words on fitness and strength. I'm also a Muay Thai practictioner and enjoy helping others to reach their peak potential through fitness and performance.

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