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What are you doing wrong if for months together you have been working out pretty regularly but haven't really felt an increase in strength. When I am weight training, I don't seem to be able to increase the weight the I take for my sets. For example, I have been stuck at 50 - 55 pounds when doing pec fly for the past few months.

I workout 4-5 days a week. Is it just a mental block? How can I push myself and take moreheavy weights. It feels like I am stuck right at the same place and it is getting frustrating.

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How many reps per set are you doing? Also 4-5 times a week sounds much, do you get enough rest? And what are your long term goals, strength training or body buidling? It could be good to know as each might need a different approach. –  Baarn Apr 5 '13 at 16:55
    
Informaficker is right; you need to describe your entire exercise program, diet, sleep and stress patterns in detail for us to have any chance of debugging what's the matter. –  Dave Liepmann Apr 5 '13 at 17:28
    
Definitely need more info but first guesses are: not enough rest, too much other workload on training days, wrong exercise selection for strength goals, or inadequate calorie intake. –  Kate Apr 5 '13 at 18:10
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50-55 when doing pec flies is actually quite a bit (if you mean per dumbbell, which I assume you do). Are you sure you have proper form? Because you could be handicapping yourself by trying to lift too much weight without proper form. –  user4963 Apr 5 '13 at 19:33
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1 Answer

up vote 1 down vote accepted

As you can read from the comments, with the information you gave it is not easy to say why exactly you are on a plateau.

There are several things you could do:

  • Rest
    exercise on fewer days, your muscles need time to recover from the stress of exercise and to rebuild or increase mass and strength. If you are doing a pattern that only trains a few groups of muscles per day, you might want to change that pattern and the order. Also try to increase the rest between sets, or deload and decrease.

  • Sleep
    You need a good amount of sleep to get the best results. You should not be too exhausted from your day to day life, when you work out. 8 hours are a rough guideline, but this differs from person to person. Some people just need 6 hours to be fully rested, others need 10.

  • Nutrition
    Your muscles glycogen stores need to be full to bring maximum performance, watch what you eat and when. How you approach this depends on the diet you chose, eg: if you are on a low carb, high protein diet, you need to eat earlier as protein and fat take more time to be digested and stored as glycogen.

  • Variation I
    If you are on a 5x5 routine, drop some weights and do 3x15 or maybe AMRAP. If you are on a 3x15 routine, try 5x5.
    You should not do this forever, but trying something else certainly is worth a try, especially when you are stuck anyway.

  • Variation II
    Find a different exercise for the same muscle(groups), do it for some weeks instead.

  • Pause
    Extreme measurement, do nothing for a week or two. After that week deload and try to get to your old max (and above). Doing this helped me with a lot of my early plateaus, but I am not sure if it still works if you aren't a beginner.

tl;dr: Try to be creative; If you are stuck and your approach doesn't seem to work any longer, change it.

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