When you first begin to train, you'll find progress everywhere you look. Hell, I honestly think some high school kids can waltz into a weight room and just think about lifting and get stronger because they've never done anything.
With time, however, progress becomes harder and harder to come by.
What used to work eventually stops working (also known as the law of diminishing returns), and you find yourself stuck in the abysmal land of stagnation.
This is a shitty place to be, and makes training a miserable experience. I mean who wants to bust their ass in the gym if they aren't going to get any better?
Hopefully you never have to experience this wonderful phenomenon, but if you do here are 5 variables that may be holding you back.
You Don't Have A Plan
If you don't have a plan you're lost, and making constant progress will be nearly impossible. Although showing up and doing whatever comes to mind may work in the beginning, it will not work for long.
Action Item: There are too many variables for you to just wing it and expect to keep making progress. If you want continued success, then start coming up with a plan or pay somebody else to do it for you.
You Aren't Focused
Like everything else in life, in order to make real progress you have to be 100% focused. Just going through the motions will not bring about improvement. Geoff Colvin, in his book Talent Is Overated: What Really Seperates World Class Performers from Everybody Else, stresses this point by emphasizing intense deliberate practice. In other words, you need to bring an incredibly intense focus to whatever it is you're doing.
Action Item: When you start your workout, the cell phone needs to go away, the chit chatting needs to stop, and you need to avoid being distracted by the smoking hot girl or guy on the other side of the gym. If those things are important to you, show up two hours early to mess around. Every bit of your focus needs to be devoted to whatever you are working on that day. When it's time to work, it's time to work.
You Don't Get Enough Sleep
I cannot stress how important good sleep is. Without opening up an enormous topic, just know that poor sleep leads to a host of problems like reduced insulin sensitivity and glucose tolerance, reduced testosterone, and increased exposure to cortisol.
Action Item: Checkout this article by Ryan Andrews to learn a little more about sleep.
You're Nutrition Isn't Up to Par
I hope this doesn't come as a surprise to you, but in order to make gains in strength, power, speed, endurance etc. then you have to have a solid nutrition base. Nutrition provides the fuel for you're body to run on and the tools to repair/build up muscle. If you come up short here, you will come up short just about everywhere.
Action Item: checkout our free ebook Winning the Nutrition Battleand we'll show you how to build meals based on your body type and goals.
You Don't Work On What You Suck At
I'd be willing to bet that you don't work on what you suck at. Who can blame you though. Working on something you suck at isn't fun by any stretch of the imagination. Unfortunately, if you want to see consistent progress then you have to. Think of it this way: a chain is only as strong as its weakest link and you are no different.
Action Item: Find someone you can trust to give you an honest evaluation of what you need to work on, and be willing to put your ego aside during this process.
[Bonus Item] You Feel Like This On A Constant Basis
Action Item: Um...quit doing drugs?