What’s holding back your gains?

Have you been hustling in the gym, showing up 3-5 times per week, and adhering to your coach’s advice, but you can’t seem to break the plateaus on your big lifts? We’ve all been there, and it’s frustrating. Well, I’ll let you in on a little secret: when it comes to strength, recovery is king and bracing is queen.

Read on to find out how to unlock your strength potential:

1. Are you sleeping enough?

When you lift weights, you’re actually damaging your muscles. This is why you feel swollen (A.K.A.: swole) after a lifting session; your muscles have sustained a dosed amount of breakdown. This is a good because post-workout your body goes into rebuild mode; these repairs in your muscle tissue are what lead to muscle growth and strengthening. The time when your body is most efficient at rebuilding is when you sleep. In a perfect world we would be able to get 8-9 hours of sleep a night, but understanding that life often gets in the way you should be aiming for at least 7 hours. Now, this is not 7 hours laying in bed, this is 7 hours in dreamland.

2. Are you eating enough?

In order to fuel this rebuilding process, your body needs nourishment. Now, this is not a hall pass to eat anything and everything you want. You want to be eating a healthy balance of protein, carbs, and fat from healthy real food sources. The problem is that often for many struggling with improving their strength they tend to be under eating. Nutrition is a big obstacle to tackle if you’re looking to get yours more dialed in, make sure reach out to your primary coach to get you started on the right path!

3. What are your stress levels like?

Stress is inevitable in life, but unregulated it can put a damper on our strength gains. When we are stressed, our adrenals pump out a stress hormone, cortisol, to help us better handle the situation at hand. The problem with cortisol is that it also blocks the effects of testosterone. Without testosterone, we are severely limited in our ability to build lean muscle which is crucial to developing strength. So if we can limit our stress levels, we get stronger and happier (win-win!).

4. How well are you bracing your core?

If we’ve covered our recovery bases and we still feel like our strength isn’t improving, I suggest we look at how we brace our core when lifting. Many understand that bracing your core is important for safety when lifting, but it is just as vital for force transfer/production. When you brace properly you create a stiff column from your hips to your shoulders that serve as an amazing force conductor on any lift. Learn to brace and watch your strength numbers jump!