T Nation

#1 Reason We Don't Make Gains


The number one reason we dont make gains in size and strength is that we dont stick to a program long enough. Now some people have the ability to stick to a program for its duration. While others (like myself) jump to the newest program that one of the authors post.

When we jump from program to newer/better program, you are not giving yourself the time to adapt and progress in strength and size. We end up finding something that is more appealing to the eye. You may be doing a Waterbury program when all the sudden Thib or Staley puts info up, we jump over to it thinking it will give us better gains. What happens? Let down, we end up disappointed in the results cause we never gave it time to work.

I am trying to do better in sticking to a program. I started EDT two weeks ago and lovin' it. I hope to stick with it for a few more weeks/months. I hope this sheds some light on why some of us are not making gains.


I disagree with such a blanket statement because you have several other factors that come into play such as physical age, training age, and other limiting factors such as additional sports you are currently involved in, type of cardio, what type of program in question (WSB vs. HFT) etc.

Several coaches on the site talk at length about how some folks adapt in 2 workouts while others can go months.
I used to be able to go 4-6 weeks before I began feeling run down while on a heavy program. Now it seems to hit me by week 3 so I have to change up something (sometimes as small as grip change) or switch to a new program or I begin to lose strength.

For new folks I would however agree that they switch programs too often. The simple rule I have come to love is that you stay on a program until you stop making gains.

Deloading weeks are another consideration for folks who have been at it longer as it depends on your bodies�?? ability to recover. Some folks can go months without deloading or taking a break while others need to step back every so often in order to continue make gains.


Diet is also a key factor that is often mentioned by the authors.


Diet: HEll yes.

The amount of times I THOUGHT I was eating right and finally looked at my totals and I was getting like 100 grams of Protein a day. No way to make any kind of gain.


There is no definitive #1 reason unless someone comes up with the numbers.


If I had to choose just one it would be that so many trainees never develop a self aware intuition whereby they gain a highly personal individualized aptitude for what they respond to best. This actually does relate to what the OP said. People jump all over the place or stick with what their favorite guru says rather than ever learn how to train themselves, which isn't to say that gurus, or anybody for that matter, are not an invaluable continuing source of ideas. Quite the contrary. This goes for diet too.




Should have called it "One of the reason newbies dont make the gains they strive for." That would make for a better post.


I'll second the applause. It took me a while to learn a few things and I'm still trying to figure out some other stuff. For starters, how my legs react differently to stimulus than the rest of my body. I am still working on trying to figure out how my back reacts (this is due to having not worked it the way I should have in the past).

I think the gurus are very helpful. They provide good programs that cover a variety of options. If a trainee just picks one program and sees it to the end while charting his progress, he can learn a lot. That goes for diet programs as well as training programs.


eating is an obvious factor in not making gains


1 Reason in my opinion is you don't want it bad enough. If you want it bad enough you learn through trial and error and by sticking with it over the years to see true gains. Desire elicits the tenacity to see truly big positive changes in health, strength, and body composition.



The only way anyone makes gains is due to adaptation. Once adaptation has taken place with a current training regimen, very little gains will occur. It is in the change over from one workout regimen to another that is the greatest stimulus for muscle growth. The trick and "art" is determining when you have adapted. So continuing any workout after you have adapted to it will not cause additional growth.

So, perhaps some people are not staying with programs long enough to cause adaptation, but it is also true that many are staying with programs too long. It is an individual thing that is not the same for all.


I agree.


As for the 'we don't make gains' statement, speak for yourself.

You know what I think is the number one reason 'some' people don't make gains? People spend too much time just reading the 'guru' programs and not learning anything about functional anatomy, training methodologies, or even the reasons why 'gurus' suggest the things they do.

It goes back to the old saying, "Give a man a fish, you feed him for a day. Teach a man to fish, you feed him for a lifetime."

People need to stop spending so much time trying to find out what the new fad program is and they need to learn the basic strategies for gaining strength, gaining size, gaining explosiveness, etc. Then they need to get their ass in the gym and fucking workout. They need to keep track of their progress in the form of a workout log and once they get enough of this thing called experience (which everyone seems to forget about), they will know what works for them and be able to come up with their own "programs".

I honestly think that if you are just following one cookie cutter program after another, whether you see it all the way through or not, you are never truly gaining any experience. You are simply eating the fish that are given to you and you will stay a newbie for the rest of your training life until you learn to think for yourself.


A lot of people train hard enough to grow, but they don't eat enough to grow. I've seen some slipshod programs before and although the person won't build a mesmerizing physique, they will still build a decent one just from the simple act of lifting weights. I'm not saying its effective but results speak for themselves. I did lift for a year without eating properly. Once I did start to eat properly, I noticed my gains were significantly better, not to mention I felt better.

Although a good plan and good work ethic are important, I'd say eating properly is number one.


Some peaople really seem to forget about the progressive overload principle, so simple yet so neglected.



Whether that means switching programs too fast to allow yourself to progress, or not eating enough quality food to recover in order to progress, the reasoning stands.

In order to get bigger and stronger you need progression...
by adding more weight to the bar.
by improving your diet until there's nothing left to improve.
by sleeping more.


It is good to get the opinion of others and what they believe. I am a very open minded person. I would say that this post really applies to me. I have been lifting for a couple years, made some good gains. I think I would have made greater gains if I would have stuck to a program for more than a couple weeks sometimes days to see the advancement in size and strength. To see what really worked and what was just a waste of time.

I have begun to feel the muscle a lot better as I advance. I can feel what range of motion I get the best feel and results. I have learned to add essential lifts such as Deads to my program.

So, in essence, I would say that if I were to go back in time and give myself some good advise it would be to stick with it until it stops working. Give enough time to determine its quality for future use.


This is basically what I was going to say. I don't care how anyone trains, if you are progressing in the gym and at the dinner table you can't help but grow. Taking into account your own genetics once you've put some time(years) into the basics and determining how much you can train, how your body reacts to certain techniques, the foods you can eat to grow best etc etc, is the next step but I don't think many people will ever even need that.

They focus on the minutia like protein carb vs protein fat meals or am I overtraining/undertraining and they forget to kick ass in the gym and eat like a bear coming out of hibernation.

To most people I'd be willing to say that Ronnie Coleman is not that smart of a guy. He likely doesn't know the physiology of training or the breakdown of his macronutrients in the offseason. But the guy knows a thing or two about lifting back breaking weights and stuffing the food down. He's a genetic alien for sure who takes drugs, but so is his competition.

The people with the top end genetics in this sport that are monsters that made progress for years and years after they turned pro are doing something that the ones that stay the same aren't, that makes me take notice.


Have to disagree with this statement.The reason the top guys are there is due to genetics.PERIOD.They are not doing anything that "every body else" isnt doing.Its that there system allows for the rapid accumilation of muscle.

In fact they are less inclined to change anything,Simply they dont NEED to.They can do ANYTHING and aquire larger muscles,any system,any diet any regiem.Simply put they have no idea why they are able to easily aquire an abnormal musculature.If you want to know why Nijinsky can run so fast,dont ask the horse ,it wont know.