What To Do When You Are Losing Strength
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You may be asking yourself: “Why am I losing strength in the gym?” Let’s face it – every workout is not going to be a huge personal record. This is something I addressed in a previous article: 3 Strategies On How To Hit Strength Gains Every Workout.
During your training career when you become more advanced, it becomes difficult to add another rep or weight to the bar. Moreover, there are going to be times you may even lose strength on a lift and run into a plateau.
This article is going to discuss three core strategies I’ve uncovered that will help you if you’re finding yourself losing strength in the gym.
Let’s dive right in.
It’s been awhile since I took flat benching seriously. You see, I wanted to switch my first chest exercise of the workout to flat bench to build it back up.
There’s something awesome about benching 315 – I just love the idea of being able to rep out that weight.
Since I’ve done that before, I figured I could put three plates on the bar and lift away. Well, I only got three reps the first workout.
The following workout I got a little help from the spotter to get the fourth rep. The workout after that, I only got three reps again and it felt much heavier and taxing on my body.
It’s frustrating losing strength isn’t it?
Most people get so caught up in trying to make strength gains on certain exercises. This plateau is fairly common with the flat barbell bench press exercise.
The reality is, some exercises are just downright difficult to progress on for certain people.
And that leads me to the first strategy to help you if you’re losing strength in your workouts – allowing you to budge past this sticking point.
Focus On Exercises You Respond Well To
Isn’t it funny how the exercise you want to progress on is most likely the one that’s stubborn for you? Haha, am I right?
As we just talked about, most guys want a big bench press. But most guys run into problems with losing strength on bench press (this could be for other reasons, which we’ll cover shortly). If this exercise is a struggle for you…
Don’t do it.
That’s right, choose a different exercise. Focus your training on exercises you respond well to. If bench press is a difficult exercise for you, but you can make awesome progress with dumbbells. Hone your attention to those and milk out as much strength and muscle gains as possible.
As you get more advanced in your training, you can then switch back to that stubborn exercise and take the time to master it.
I respond very well to weighted dips (most people do for that matter). In the past, I was adding five pounds to the belt on every set for several weeks!
These strength gains carried over to my incline and flat bench very well.
The same goes with barbell shoulder press. I’ve always found myself running into plateaus on this exercise but always able to make great strength gains on seated dumbbell shoulder press.
The point is to focus on the exercises you respond the best to, and make as much strength gains as you can.
Build Up With A Methodical Progression Model If You’re Losing Strength
Let’s use my bench press again for example purposes. I made the mistake of switching to flat bench and starting with 315 pounds.
What I should have done was start with 295 and taken the time to build my way back up to 315 pounds.
I most likely could have gotten 295 pounds for about 5 or 6 reps. I then could have kept the reps the same and micro loaded up to 315 pounds.
It becomes extremely difficult to add reps when using a heavy weight. Adding a rep is actually increasing your one rep max by about 10 pounds – that’s a massive strength increase that’s just not always in the cards, especially as an advanced lifter.
If you’re losing strength, I’d suggest you drop the weight and build back up using a methodical strength progression model.
Along with micro loading, the core strategy I use for gaining strength quickly is Reverse Pyramid Training.
Without a proper progression model in place, your workouts have no purpose. There’s no way to track progress and to tell if what you’re doing is actually working or not.
Don’t Grind Out Your Last Reps If You’re Losing Strength
This is also an important strategy I discussed in the previous article about making strength gains and can apply if you’re currently losing strength in your workouts.
If you want to make consistent strength gains, you need to become aware of how much you can actually push yourself when lifting.
It’s that weird paradox I discuss in my YouTube videos.
You most certainly need to leave everything you’ve got on the table and continually push yourself out of your comfort zone to grow and make strength gains – BUT you want to stop a rep shy of a tough rep.
The reps that are slow and you grind out are really taxing on your body. After awhile, they start to really impact your strength in a negative way.
If you stop a rep shy of that really difficult rep (the ones you may need a spotter to grab the bar and help) you leave room on the table for progress.
The next workout, you’ll come back feeling stronger and more powerful on that exercise.
You’ll even most likely leave the gym feeling great – not drained and exhausted.
Final Thoughts On What To Do If You’re Losing Strength
Always keep in mind that strength gains are not linear. Meaning, no one is able to keep adding weight to the bar every single workout without running into some sort of set back – it happens.
Although, you can arm yourself with the right tools in your arsenal to get the job done efficiently and remove many blockers to a strong and muscular physique.
With that said, you must be patient. Nothing worth while comes easy. Don’t be the guy who just wants to lift the big weights and only lift them for 3 reps or so. This takes time.
If you find yourself losing strength on any of your exercises, remember these three strategies:
1) Choose exercises you respond well to
2) Start with a lighter weight and build up
3) Don’t grind out your reps
I can’t wait to see how these strategies help you build a lean and chiseled physique.
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