Just as building muscle is simple, so, too, is failure. There's nothing complicated or mysterious about it. People usually fail to develop the muscle they want for one or both of the following reasons:
1) They become discouraged and lose their zest for experiencing what training has to offer.
2) They get bogged down physically because of staleness. They no longer seem to have the strength or capacity to complete once-simple routines.
Most trainees know very clearly when they're discouraged or stale. Why do I say that? Because they tell me. I get letters that say in essence, "I'm awfully down, and my muscles feel burned out. What's my problem?"
Well, listen carefully. When you feel discouraged, your problem is that you're discouraged. When you feel stale, the problem is that you're stale. You don't need to consult an expert or hire a trainer. You're getting the best feedback you possibly can -- from yourself.
Here's what you need do do:
1) Identify and accept what's going on for what it is, no more and no less.
2) Realize that everyone experiences slumps once in a while. It's not a big deal, honest.
3) Follow the simple steps I outline here, and you'll extricate yourself from the unpleasantness.
History's greatest lifters and bodybuilders -- all individual-sport masters, in fact, from gymnasts and dancers to boxers -- had lots of setbacks throughout their careers. They became great in part because they trained correctly, hard and long -- and because they worked through those setbacks. They didn't quit. A setback is practically proof that you're a serious trainee. Quitters never experience them.
If you're generally -- not occasionally -- discouraged, you probably have a problem that can be easily solved, as long as you train within your requirements.
Assess yourself accurately.
The idea that there are ways to overcome heredity is nonsense.
Heredity sets the boundaries.
Your task is to discover what they are and then to train so that you actualize those limits. Only a very few trainees ever become stars. So what. You don't need to be the best in order to enjoy training. Give up unrealistic expectations. You aren't going to find the perfect routine or the ideal system -- the magical secret that will eliminate setbacks.
If you often go stale, you can probably resolve the problem by moderating your training. Yes, hard work is important, but too much hard work equals overwork -- something that invariably leads to staleness and overtraining.
Solving the Problem
1) Train Sensibly. It's counterproductive to push to the limit every time. Sooner or later -- usually sooner -- you'll bog down. Train hard in a gradual, progressive way, then, as you near a peak, ease up. You can't progress endlessly on just any schedule. The trick is to learn when you're at the brink of overtraining and back off. It's probably impossible to do that all the time, but you ought to be able to come close.
2) Stay Goal Oriented. When you want something, you can maintain enthusiasm. It's easy to avoid certain foods, knowing that they'll only ruin your chances of attaining what you desire.
3) Surpass Your Previous Efforts From Time to Time. That means very, very hard work. Take it in carefully measured, well spaced doses. Like rich foods, heavy training is wonderful in the right amounts, but too much can make you sick.
4) Change Your Routines. There are two or three superb variations of every key exercise. You can train on the basics and still enjoy variety. Change your set and rep schemes.
5) Take a Few Days Off When You Need Them. Don't give yourself a hard time about needing a layoff. Peary Rader often recommended layoffs of a month or more for certain pupils. Such a lengthy break may be necessary when you're severely overtrained and stale, but if you follow my advice, you shouldn't have to resort to it. If a week's rest won't do the trick, though, take a month off. No point in training when it won't do you any good.
No one is immune to discouragement or staleness, but there's no need to panic. You'll recover and come back with renewed enthusiasm.
Enjoy Your Lifting!