For beginners it is important to understand that 30% of all strength gains in a training program come from improvement in inter-muscular coordination.
When an athlete has achieved several years of proper strength training the performance curve slows down as they climb higher to their innate potential.
This is where program design, lifestyle and nutrition pay a huge role in our EC clients ability to achieve optimal gains needed for elite performance.
If you are an athlete that has been on a strength plateau, here are five things to consider to move you onward and upward!
- NO Energy Leaks. First and foremost, if an athletes comes up to me and wants to “get stronger” I always ask, ‘What are you doing now and how are your lifestyle pieces: Are you horny & happy? Are you eating quality food at the right amount? You staying hydrated, sleeping 9+ hours a night?’ If these are in place, then the rest of this article will be useful.
- Make Sure You Are Recovering. Any training session that is intense enough to cause muscle damage, in turn, causes an inflammatory
response. This inflammation can slow down protein synthesis, resulting in poor recovery. Recovering from hard training sessions is essential for adaptation (strength/growth) to occur. Muscles adapt and become stronger during periods of rest, not during exercise. There are several ways to reduce inflammation after training to enhance your recovery between sessions, here are a couple I use I find very helpful:
- Supplement with a quality whey protein (such as REVIVE Rx) before and after training. Research shows that taking a protein supplement high in the amino acid Leucine will decrease the inflammatory response to eccentric loading in training. Whey protein has the highest amount of Leucine over pea and rice protein.
- Boost your antioxidant levels by taking 2-3 grams of vitamin C after training. Research has shown that boosting your vitamin C reduces inflammation after hard training sessions. With that said don’t rely strictly
on vitamins; add a few more anti oxidant rich foods such as berries, dark leafy green veggies, artichokes, walnuts and even spices like tumeric and cinnamon.
- Avoid Alcohol after training, as it will limit performance gains and delay recovery. Research has shown that drinking alcohol post training creates a poor hormonal environment that actually lowers testosterone and increases in estrogen (aromitization) in male rugby players. In addition, you should also avoid alcohol 36 hours before a hard session or competition, as effects have shown to linger. It’s like showing up to a gunfight with only 1 bullet.
- Mix It Up. You have to increase the variety in your intensity efforts in order to gain strength (for both men and women). One way to do this is to implement tempo to your reps. I have had great success with 4-5 second eccentric tempos in compound movements such as Back Squats.
- Get Coached. Sometimes having someone else tell you how to do it—or keep you accountable to the uncomfortable pushes away from those plateaus—can be tremendously beneficial (even if you know what to do). Seek the guidance of a coach—just like any professional athlete would do—and let someone else help you take the thinking (and head bashing) out of it.
Not as sexy as you wanted to hear?
Before getting bogged down in various training philosophies, methodologies or programs, lift heavy weights, recover well, throw in some tempos to your training, and seek some outside insight and watch what unfolds.
Murphy A, Snapa A, et al. (2012). Alcohol and Rugby League Recovery: Effects of post match alcohol ingestion on recovery from competitive Rugby league matches. Journal of strength and Conditioning Research.