First things first: if you haven’t started supplementing your lax game with some quality weight room time, you’re falling behind.
Getting on board a proper strength and conditioning program will not only reinforce your skill development, but also help keep your body injury-free on the field. For athletes who are new to training or have recently begun developing a solid strength foundation, there may come a point when it feels like no matter how often you train, you simply can’t get stronger.
This is known as a “plateau,” and it can be a real ego crusher.
But more than being just a psychological obstacle, plateauing in your strength and speed development limits you from becoming a stronger, more able athlete.
If you feel like you’re not getting stronger, take a look at these common training faults that can lead to plateaus in your gains—and do whatever you can to avoid them.
No Progressive Overload
To simplify this concept, when we lift weights, we apply stress to our muscles, which in turn are forced to adapt to this stress and become stronger.
Over time, if this stress stimulus (weight being lifted) is not intensified, then the muscles will no longer need to adapt—meaning we stop getting stronger. The concept of progressive overload states that we must gradually increase stress for continual adaptation to occur, thereby avoiding the dreaded plateau.
One common mistake athletes make is regularly lifting the SAME weights in the SAME workout routine each and every week. This lack of incremental progression fails to drive the body’s need for adaptation, and won’t make you a better athlete. This is why it is so important to progressively increase intensity in your training plan by changing one of the following training variables: the amount of weight lifted, the number of repetitions performed, and the overall volume of total weight lifted.
If none of these variables alters within your strength program, you’re just spinning your wheels. Training on a strength program that adjusts for these adaptation needs is vital, especially when it comes to specific goals that vary from athlete to athlete (i.e. gaining muscle, losing weight, increasing speed, etc.).
So it goes without saying, but I’ll say it anyway: if you don’t lift heavier stuff, you won’t get any stronger.
“Flavor of the Week” Programming
Consistency is key when it comes to your movement selection and rate of progression in your strength program. Many athletes suffer from weight room ADD, losing focus on what they should be routinely developing and altering their basic training program too frequently.
A good example of this is training one week on a program highly focused on strength development with compound lifts, but the following week shifting radically towards conditioning-style interval workouts. Neither week complements the other, and BOTH training goals will fail to develop to their fullest extent. And just like in-season training, when it comes to off-season programming, your training goals should be just as direct: focused on developing your greater athleticism as a whole.
Playing Wheel of Fortune with your strength program may help relieve some weight room boredom, but it won’t do a thing for your long-term athletic development.
Lack of Variation
While this may sound like a contradiction to the last training fault I mentioned, doing the same movement too often without some variation or shift in a specific training goal can lead to stagnation and plateau. Now, I don’t mean variation from week to week, but in longer stretches of one-to-two months.
Here’s why variation is key: it may become too difficult to continually load one movement like the back squat or bench press over the course of a four-week span.
Altering the movement choice to one with a similar pattern of muscle recruitment, like a front squat or incline bench press, respectively, can help provide a different stress stimulus to keep you moving forward. And variation in your training program doesn’t necessarily have to involve increasing your strength—taking a week off to de-load the body every four-to-six weeks can create even MORE adaptation than continuous training.
It’s not uncommon to come back STRONGER after a short break, because it allows your body to fully adapt without fighting the stress of training.[mks_separator style=”solid” height=”4″]
A good strength program will progressively develop your strength, helping you move steadily toward meeting your athletic goals. The right amount of variation and properly-timed de-loading are nuanced variables that require planning and the understanding that the body needs to adapt to a wide range of demands in order for you to be a more complete athlete.
In today’s athletics, the game and the athletes are more advanced than ever before, and simply wandering into the weight room without a plan won’t cut it anymore.
Keep these common training mistakes in the back of your mind when programming your training plan—or, make it easy and let Volt do it for you.