How to build strength and progress

Oct 30, 2020 | Jenni Ashford

“Why am I not getting stronger?”

This is a question often asked at Personal Training sessions. When you’re throwing yourself into training and not seeing results, a simple change to your weekly workouts could be the answer. Assistant Fitness Manager and Personal Trainer, Nick Rose, explains how.

“Last week I had an honest chat with a new client who feeling frustrated that they weren’t getting any stronger, despite working out regularly for a year or two.  Their weekly workout sessions centre around Les Mills BodyPump – which is always one of the most popular classes here at Exeter Golf and Country Club (and in fact, the world!). Although they’ve been going for a couple of years, they are still using the same weight they started on for some of the moves. Basically, they have plateaued.

When we think about how and why muscles get stronger, we can understand why strength gains may not have been made. Muscles adapt to different stresses placed on them – if muscles endure the same stress pattern week in week out, they will not need to adapt and will just stay the same. Those gains made when starting BodyPump will reduce over time as the muscles become accustomed to the same style of training.

There are two approaches you can take to progress. The first is to concentrate on what’s going on in the class itself, and the second is to consider ways to train outside of the class to support what you do in the class.

Step one – increase the weight in the class. This will help to pushing through the barrier (and routine) that is there now. When increasing weight in BodyPump, it’s important to maintain your focus on form – so don’t worry if you need to reduce the range of movement in your reps or struggle to keep up with the instructor – keeping your form means you can move the next level without risk of injury.

Over time, with the increased weight, the range of movement will also increase, creating full reps. The end result of this would be the same range of movement you were doing to start with but now a heavier weight –  and an increase in muscle strength.

Step two is to consider alternative ways to build strength outside of the class. The benefit of building strength outside of the class is you can progress from partial to full reps in your own time, without pressure from others in the class.

Specific body part weight training in a gym setting is the best way to safely build strength over time.

My top 3 favourite methods are: drop sets (doing an exercise at a certain weight then reducing the weight and keep going), supersets (where we place two exercises back to back with no rest in between, in this case two exercises working the same muscle group), and pyramid sets (where each set you would do less/more weight and the reps would increase/decrease). All have their benefits, but it is the increased stress that is going to help you become stronger.

For continued progression, keep changing the stress on the muscle – whether a small increase in weight or adding on a rep or two, along with perfectly your form and range of movement. Doing the same thing for a prolonged time will not improve your strength or fitness – keep pushing your mind and body to go beyond the regular routine is key to progress.”

Photos: Ian in a Personal Training session with Elliot at Exeter Golf and Country Club

If you have any questions about getting started or about moving to the next level and increasing your strength or fitness, speak to any of Personal Trainers in the gym.

Get in touch to book a free consultation.

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