We are finishing up the latest strength cycle and testing our new one rep maxes in the next couple of weeks. We had some very impressive back squats this week. Several of the women in the gym went in to the 200s and we even had someone come very close to 400. There is nothing like the feeling of hitting a new personal best, however, sometimes things do not go as we hoped. We all have off days. It is important to ask why we might be experiencing days when we are sluggish or weaker then usual.
1. Are you eating enough? – This one is simple, but often overlooked. You need to make sure you are getting enough fuel for your body. Preferably quality fuel. Try to avoid highly processed food. If you are looking for a great book to read on the matter I highly recommend In Defense of Food: An Eater’s Manifesto by Michael Pollan
2. Have you changed your diet? – If you have decided to reduce carbohydrates in your diet, you have changed your body’s need for salt. High carbohydrate diets make the kidneys retain salt. However, a low carbohydrate intake increases sodium excretion by the kidneys. The solution may be as simple as upping your salt intake.
3. Are you over training? – Sometimes the culprit behind plummeting gains in muscle size and strength is overtraining. According to the National Academy of Science and Medicine overtraining is an accumulation of training stress resulting in long-term decrease in performance capacity. Sometimes working harder is not smarter. If you have added other exercise into your routine you may be causing more harm than good. I am by no means telling you not to do other sports, just make sure you are balanced and getting enough rest.
4. Where are you in your menstrual cycle? – Many women report feeling weak or completely lacking energy during their time of the month. There are a few reasons why you may feel weak during your period. You may be experiencing dehydration, hypoglycemia and iron loss.
5) Are you getting enough sleep? – Sleep is crucial to peak athletic performance. Tissue repair and the release of growth hormone are two vital processes that occur during sleep. Increased cortisol levels and decreased glycogen storage have been observed in athletes deprived of sleep. Your body uses glycogen, the storage form of glucose, for muscular contraction. Depletion of glycogen in the cells may present as a feeling of weakness.
The short of it is, if you don’t hit a new one rep max on a particular day, don’t despair. You might just be having an off day. If you make sure to eat enough nutritional foods and rest sufficiently you will increase your odds of having more ‘on’ days.