When you're new to fitness, keeping those muscle gains coming isn't usually a problem.

However, once you've been training for a while and you start to see your progression slide, it's easy to understand what it really means to plateau.

Our bodies are masters at adapting to our daily routines – whether that's your weights regime, your diet or just your lifestyle. It wants to conserve energy and do everything as efficiently as possible – which is brilliant – until you want to keep shredding fat and gaining muscle.

Doing the same routine over and over, just isn't going to cut it. And as you progress, what worked for you previously, may not be the right approach further down the line.

So, what's the secret?

Here are our top 10 tips on how to get stronger:

1) Get the technique right

Technique and form are so important. It doesn't matter what muscle groups you're working, if you're not actually engaging those muscles when you perform an exercise, you won't be strengthening it.

Posture is also important when you train. Think about whether you are engaging the right areas for a particular move. Is your back in the right position? Have you got full range of motion? Are the muscles you're working tense throughout the whole exercise? (i.e. not in flexion).

We've all seen people train with too much weight and a poor technique. If you’re not sure, strip everything back to the basics, get the form right, record yourself on your phone or get a friend to spot you, and nail that posture. Then, once you have the correct positioning, you can start to add the weight back on.

2) Compound exercises

Compound exercises aren't just allowing you to target multiple muscle groups at the same time. By engaging a range of muscle groups around the body, you stimulate the production of muscle-building hormones. This means doing squats, bench presses and dead lifts for maximum gains across your whole body.

3) Warm up properly

Warming up properly increases your range of motion as well as reduces your risk of injury. Prepare your muscles and work up to your heavier weights, rather than down. Doing this will help you gradually add more weights so you can progress to your one-rep max.

4) Do fewer reps with a higher weight

One of the main questions you should be asking yourself during every workout is: can I lift more? If you know your technique is spot on but you're not seeing the results you want, add on some more weight. You can always take it back down again. The trouble is, we get used to being able to lift a certain amount of weight. And that means we forget just how much more we should be trying to do. It takes energy, perseverance and discipline. But when you start to see the results you've been aiming for, you'll appreciate all that hard work!


5) Eat well

You can't develop muscle without giving your body what it needs to build it in the first place. Eat healthily and fill up on lean protein, good fats, fruit and vegetables, low GI carbs and plenty of water. Amino acids are important too. If you're not sure, there are plenty of protein shakes and supplements that are balanced in nutrients which can help you get what you need.

6) Overtraining

When you don't get the results you want, it's natural to think you should be doing more. However, it is possible to overtrain. And by doing this, you're only going to take steps back with regards to your progression. Listen to your body and if you are feeling consistently sore, tired, down and you've lost your appetite, take a break, let your body recover and rethink your training schedule.

7) Increments

As you get closer towards your goal weight load, you'll find getting to the next step even more difficult. Starting out, an increment might be a good 10kg. But moving up, the increments can be a lot smaller. Don't be deterred by this however. Each step is still a step in the right direction. Keep increasing that weight load so you don't halt your progression. And even if you can add an extra 0.25kg, add it on and keep working your way up.

8) Use free weights

Machines are great for helping you to get a feel for what movements work what muscles. But once you have got a bit more knowledge, always use free weights. That way you can follow your body's natural trajectories as you move, press, lift raise and squat. Forcing yourself into a machine's particular weight path can mean you're not unlocking your muscles' full potential.

9) Target your weak points

We all have our favourite exercises, so it can be tempting to target the areas where you see the most progression. But, don't neglect the weaker areas of your body. Focus on building complete strength and not just the parts you excel in. The gym isn't a contest. Be honest about your weaker points and work on improving them. It will pay off as you start to progress.

You can do this by breaking down your movements and seeing where you struggle the most. Use pause techniques as well as isometric training to cover your bases.

10) Keep mixing it up

There's so much science into getting stronger and sorting through all the facts and trying to incorporate all of it into a routine can be tricky. That said, once you've got your routine down to a fine art, changing it up can understandably make your heart sink. The thing is, doing the same thing over and over, will inevitably result in a progression-plateau. So, take a moment each week to plan in some training variations. That way, you're always surprising your body.

So, remember to push hard when it's time to train, eat well, get plenty of rest, stay hydrated and keep it varied.

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