If you’ve ever hit a PR, you know first hand how exhilarating this experience can be. It’s a rush. You are fired up, motivated as hell and ready to take on the world. Not to mention, it’s just fun.

Newbie Strength Gains

When you first start strength training, these PR’s happen a lot. It seems like you have something to celebrate every month.

Newbie gains are real. They are legitimate neurological adaptations that happen fairly quickly. It’s quite simple. You apply some stress via training, your body adapts and you get stronger.

The truth is, almost any program will work for awhile. You can do BeachBody, CrossFit, circuit training or boot camps. All of them will get you some type of results.

That’s right, at first anything will work.

However, if you’re chasing strength, you need to understand that eventually, you will hit a plateau.

This will likely be very frustrating. You are still training consistently, your diet is on point. So WHY are you stuck on a good portion of your lifts? And why does this happen to almost every newbie lifter?

3 Reasons You are Likely Hitting Strength Plateaus:

  • Poor movement
  • Suboptimal technique
  • A subpar program

1. Poor Movement Quality

This specific blog is not about assessments. That topic is a whole other animal. There are several reasons why you may have poor movement including everything from your daily habits, injury history, mobility restrictions or motor control deficits.

One of the most common mobility restrictions restrictions I see is a restriction in ankle dorsiflexion.

Here’s a quick example of what someone’s squat might look like if they have a restriction in their right ankle.

I am a huge fan of the work by Functional Movement Systems (FMS). I highly recommend you work with an FMS professional to optimize your movement quality.

2. Suboptimal Technique

As I mentioned above, anything works for awhile. The same goes for lifting technique. Let’s look at squatting . As a beginner, you can squat high bar, low bar, front squat, safety squat, kettlebell, banded, and with chains. If you are squatting in some way, shape or form, you’ll make some progress. But all good things come to an end and the gains won’t come nearly as fast.

I’m not sure where I heard this quote but man is it true.

It's all easy until it gets heavy. Click To Tweet


You can get away with a lot with mediocre technique and light to moderate weights. But, The iron doesn’t lie and if you want to be strong, technique is so important. First, are you implementing the best technique for you, your body type, lever arms? Are you squatting high bar, low bar, overhead, with sand bags or kettlebells? Are you creating enough tension? What breathing strategy are you using?

There are so many factors that play into quality technique. This is one of my favorite videos on squatting, if you are strength coach, personal trainer, or a physical therapist, the video below is a must see.

3. Subpar programming

A quality program can often be the difference maker and hitting your strength goals. Most people have no idea how to program strength. Instead, many coaches do something similar to throwing crap up against the wall and seeing what sticks. If it sticks, you keep it right?

My go to source for programming is StrongFirst. Pavel Tsatsouline is a genius and anything he writes is gold. I’d also check out information put out by Dan John, Eric Cressey, the crew at The Strength House in Worcester Massachusetts, Andy Bolton and so much more. Yes, there are hundreds if not thousands of more programs you can choose from but the above mentioned people know their stuff.

So what’s my point for you, newbie lifters? Remember, strength is s skill. It takes time to develop any skill set. Be patient, move well, dial in your technique and get yourself a quality program from a coach who’s put in the time to learn this skill.

Now go lift!