We frequently encounter men and women who go to the gym regularly, and crush it. They give it all they have, and leave every ounce of energy in the weight room or exersice class.
Yet, month after month, their gains are modest. And what’s worse, recovery from training feels like an extended hangover.
Here’s the most obvious reason you are not getting stronger: You are not following a program.
A man benches 135 pounds, for five sets of five reps. The next week, he adds 5 pounds (just a 2.5 pound plate on each side), and repeats. The next week, he goes up five more pounds.
If he can stick to this simple plan for a few months, he’ll be a formidable bench presser in the making – with a much denser, developed chest to show for it.
Contrast that with a man who walks into the gym and decides he feels like hitting the pec dec for some flys. Then he does dumbbell chest presses, but they don’t feel right, so he hops on a seated chest press machine and does a few sets. He drops to the floor and hammers out a few sets of pushups, then he decides that’s enough – time for biceps.
How is this man’s chest progress going to be a few months down the road, if this is a typical training session for him?
Elite trainers encourage their clients to trust their programs. Beat your sets and reps every week, record your progress, and have a solid plan when you hit the gym. Trainers like to say that we earn the right to train instinctively, once we’ve reached a substantial position of experience and muscular development.
A second common reason we see men and women working out but not showing gains is a drop in natural hormone levels.
This is a very frustrating position for older athletes, because these are the guys and gals pushing it at the gym every week, but who never seem to make meaningful progress. Their hormone levels are likely far below what they were in their 20s and 30s.
After age 30, testosterone levels can drop. Sometimes the dropoff is sudden and steep, leaving men wondering what bus hit them, and why all these multipack vitamins aren’t doing any good.
The good news is there are many proven methods for older athletes to look and feel better, starting with the basics. Get enough sleep, hydrate yourself, and examine your diet. If your situation warrants a more direct intervention, there are many options for restoring hormone levels to be more in-line with your youth.
Nothing is more frustrating than working out in with little to show for your efforts. But conversely, few things feel better than having productive, energizing, muscle-building workouts week after week.
Take care of yourself, plan and track your workouts, and learn to enjoy exercise again!