8 Things Holding You Back from Becoming Your Strongest Self

body recomposition fitness strength workout program May 01, 2024


You've finally started exercising regularly - a HUGE accomplishment!  Maybe you're even exercising regularly, but the strength gains just aren't coming as easily or as quickly as you'd like or anticipated.  It's possible that it will just take longer than expected, but before we jump to that conclusion let's see if you're doing the 8 things I mention in this blog post.


I'm going to share the one and only way to get stronger - if you're not doing this strength not going to happen.  And then we will dive in to 7 things to support the process and make it easier.


1: Apply Progressive Overload

This is REQUIRED to get stronger. Progressive overload is a training principle that states you must progressively ask the body to do more and more to get it to where you want it to be.  This can apply not just to strength, but endurance and flexibility too.  For example, if you use 10lb for your 10 reps of bicep curls you will not suddenly be able to do 20 for 10.  It doesn't work that way.  You need to work your way there.  There are various ways of apply progressive overload and I talk about them all in THIS PODCAST EPISODE.


2: Follow a Program

If you have lived a very sedentary life and go to doing any form of movement, you will see some initial progress because you went from nothing to something, but you have to continue to move up the ladder.  There comes a breaking point where doing random workouts is going to be more taxing than it's worth and eventually is counter-productive.  In my professional opinion, they are usually way more time and energy than worth the pay back UNLESS your only goal is enjoyment and that is the only thing you enjoy.  Following a program allows you to measure your progress.  This is not as easy with random workouts and just doing whatever you feel like.  If you're hoping to see progress this can also be discouraging because you doing have a way to regularly measure if your efforts have been worth it.


3: Be Consistent

This is fairly intuitive.  Maybe you have a program, but are you doing it fully or just most of the day?  If you're not accumulating enough volume then there isn't enough of a stimulus to tell your body to adapt (similar to progressive overload).


4: Don't Drink Too Much Alcohol

Alcohol has zero nutritional value.  In fact, in requires minerals to be processed and is extremely taxing to the liver as the body perceives it as a toxin and the liver is responsible for processing toxins.  When not consumed properly it depletes you of minerals - aka dehydration - (essential for every function in the body - including moving), and greatly affects sleep quality which is essential for recovery.


5: Eat Enough Protein

When wanting to build muscle you should aim to consume your body weight (in lb) in grams of protein daily.  If you weight 150lb, aim to consume 150g of protein every day.  Protein is the building blocks of muscle.  You can also look at the PDCAAS (protein digestibly corrected amino acid score) of each protein source to see your bioavailable (absorbable and usable) it is by the body.


6: Sleep 8-9 Hours a Night

You may have heard 7-9 is an ok range for adults, and it is.  But that's all it is, just ok.  8-9 full hours of sleep is optimal.  It gives your body to do the necessary recovery work and the stuff that it's put to the side that it doesn't see as top priority.


7: Take Enough Rest Days

Each muscle group needs 48-72 hours of rest before being worked again as long as it was worked to the proper degree (not just moving or using light weights per the reps).  So this means you COULD workout every day, but keep in mind your CNS needs time to rest too.  If you don't have such a stressful and busy life and every day workout is probably fine.  But if you have the average lifestyle, you probably need at least a full day off.


8: Do Not Follow Typical Cycle Syncing Recommendations

The more I look in to this the more I don't understand the reasoning for typical cycle syncing recommendations.  With my understanding of energy systems and skeletal muscle, it doesn't add up.  And it also shows in my physical performance and the performance of most of my clients.  According to typical recommendations you are supposed to hit strength PRs during ovulation and only do gentle movement during your menstrual phase, BUT the preferred energy systems/metabolic pathways when you are in your follicular phase and ovulating favor endurance - the opposite of strength.  Strength does not correlate to energy which is why this is a common misconception.  If you put it to the test you will probably find you are stronger on your period. Typical recommendations also suggest only lifting 2ish weeks out of the 4 of your cycle.  This is not even enough to maintain muscle mass.  Therefore, I cannot recommend it.  By all means listen to your body, but following a chart of what movement you're allowed to do when is not better than obsessively controlling your diet with a meal plan.


Want more guidance with strength programming?

My membership, Strong with Estelle, is for women who are exercising regularly but wanting more guidance with their lifting.  SWE takes you from beginner to intermediate lifter.  You no longer need to save your workouts on Instagram and just HOPE things work if you do your best.  You deserve a proven strategy, support, and education. CLICK HERE to learn more.


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