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I am sure this has been asked countless times before, but I seem unable to get a fulfilling workout. I focus mainly on strength training, so I do fast-twitch enabling exercises, heavier weights with fewer reps, and bodyweight exercises. It seems that anytime I do an exercise, this is the usual scenario, at any rate:

  1. I don't get soreness or pain, but I don't notice any improvement in strength over the week, and I never feel as if my muscles recover 100%.

  2. I get soreness and pain, don't notice strength gains, delay workouts for several more days, and then come to realize I have lost strength when I try to improve the weights.

  3. I lower the weights, focus more on reps, but adjust myself to lower weight, hence, heavier weights begin to feel heavier.

  4. I go very heavy to push myself, but end up getting DOMS, pain and aches, and after waiting several days/a week, I come to find that the same weight is slightly harder to do.

So clearly I have a few problems:

  1. I workout, rest, but do not make any significant gains ever that don't revert back to what they were.

  2. Regardless of changing routines, I either push hard, go a pinch further to drop back down to my prior strength state, or go very light, and have to work my way back heavier again from adjusting my nervous system to little weights (also why I don't like aerobic/muscle building regimens).

I do this:

  1. Sleep at least seven hours straight every night.

  2. Eat 1,900-2700 calories per day.

  3. Workout every two to five days or so.

My goal is to be stronger, but I am stuck in a plateau that never seems to end whether I rest more, change diet, exercise, etc. Either way I am not improving, and often feel weak and tired most of the day, every day.

I do not know what the issue is ... does anyone here have any idea?

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Please include detailed workout logs: exercises, sets, reps, weights. General descriptions are not that helpful. That said, it sounds like you're being inconsistent with training. –  Dave Liepmann Nov 7 '13 at 20:40
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One error that jumps out to me is that you're waiting for DOMS to go away before trying again. Mark Rippetoe says, "Waiting until soreness subsides before doing the next workout is a good way to guarantee that soreness will be produced every time, since you'll never get adapted to sufficient workload frequency to stop getting sore". –  Kate Nov 8 '13 at 0:47
    
1900-2700 calories is a pretty big range. –  Christopher Bruce Mar 21 at 15:31
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4 Answers

Honestly, I think you need to start working out more consistently. Every 2 to 5 days is not consistent and if you expect to get results from that, you probably won't.

Strength training and muscle gain both require a lot of commitment to both your workout/training and your diet. It varies from person to person but expect 45 to 60 minute high intensity sessions at least 4 to 5 times a week. Use that as a guide to build on.

You might be consuming 2700 calories a day but not all calories are equal. You need high quality, nutrient dense calories - lots of proteins, fats and carbs from good quality natural foods. Stay away from that packaged garbage that is full of artificial colors, flavors and preservatives.

On the topic of calories, consume the same every day while trying to gain strength. When you want to cut/drop fat, then you can start cycling your calorie intake. You need to fuel your body.

If you are sore, tough it up and train through it anyway. If it really is that bad, try taking some magnesium each day. It will help with recovery.

Also look at split routines so you aren't directly training the same muscles each day. Do chest and triceps one day, front half of legs the next, back and biceps the next, rear half of legs next, then do core and bodyweight exercises - that's just a quick guide anyway.

Hope some of that helps.

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I am unable to add comments as i do not have enough reputation , but i am still able to answer. Weird. Anyway, I wanted to add that if you would specify your results plus your age , height and weight and your experience, it could help to answer your question. Hardly this is your case, but it is possible to be near your genetic limits. Sometimes people expect too much looking at (chemically enhanced) sports icons and bodybuilders.

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Taco Jones,

First, unless you are physically active, it seems your daily calorie intake might be too much for you to see the results you were hoping to obtain from these exercises. Barring a physically active lifestyle, you might want to reduce the range to 1900 - 2300.

Second, what do you mean by workout every two to five days? Does it mean you work out every two or five days? If you're working out every five days, you shouldn't expect any result because with the calories you are consuming, you aren't burning calories fast enough for those results. You need to increase the frequency.

Third, don't go too heavy. Every exercise has a good way of performing it and you should only use a heavy weight that allows you to perform it well. If you cannot perform it well, it's too heavy for you. Reduce the weight and try again. This will also help your muscles recover faster.

Since your goal is to build strength, I wouldn't recommend you exercising with light weights. You can start with light weights, but you need to increase them constantly. You also need to perform these exercises every other day; this allows your body to obtain just the needed rest without losing the strength obtained in the previous workouts.

If your body is still constantly sore after a few weeks of exercising, you'll need to add cardio and calisthenics to your routine. These can be done everyday (recommended) or on non-weightlifting days. Calisthenics exercises allow you to use your body weight and cardio helps your heart and lungs (as well as provides endurance).

You might also need to obtain a personal trainer, join a gym, or join fitness communities online or in person; sometimes, we need external help to blast through the barriers.

One thing you cannot afford to do is doing nothing.

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Sleep less? Really? –  Dave Liepmann Mar 19 at 21:02
    
@DaveLiepmann; realistically, yes. An adult that regularly sleeps 7 hours a night probably has no responsibilities, ignoring them, or has issues that need to be addressed. Because of those issues, it might be demoralizing for the individual to constantly exercise the way they ought. Not sure how it works in other countries, but here in the USA, that's just the norm. That's why I gave that recommendation. –  Kneel-Before-ZOD Mar 19 at 21:14
    
Nope. According to this, the minimum recommended amount of sleep is 7 hours, and 59% of Americans sleep at least that much. But feel free to add any other references to back up your claims. –  BKE Mar 21 at 12:36
    
@BKE you are right; the statement was largely exaggerated. But I guess 40% not having 7+ hours sleep now compared to 16% in the 1940s is a big jump. Thanks for the correction :). –  Kneel-Before-ZOD Mar 21 at 13:08
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Just a thought seen as none of the other answers have suggested this... Do you take any vitamins or supplements? Before I started training I used to have anything from 5 to 10 hours of sleep a night. This meant that I was always too tired to do anything. After a visit to the doctor and a few blood tests I finally got told that my thyroxine levels were low. I now take multivitamins and I feel a lot better than I used to as I have a flow of B vitamins in me to last through the day. Maybe this is what your diet needs to increase recovery.

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