You've been training on and off for a while now and you have the basics down pretty well, but you just seem to be stuck in some sort of rut. Don't worry this is a very common problem that happens to many of us, trainers included. This is usually a sign that you need to change some things up (exercises, rep ranges, sets, rest time, etc). Today we're going to explain the importance of those last few reps in every set that really determine whether or not you'll change, adapt and get better....Or Not!
I'd say if I could only pinpoint one major issue with people not getting stronger, I'd blame it on lack of intensity. When I say intensity I mean the weight they're pushing; if weight goes up, intensity goes up, if weight goes down, intensity goes down (in most cases). Another major issue with people not improving is because they slack when it comes to the "grind reps" I call them. Grind reps are the last couple of reps in a set that are brutal due to fatigue. The last few reps in every set are the most critical if you're really looking to get leaner, stronger and better. Unfortunately, many people hit that grind rep wall and stop!! As long as form is good, those last 2,3 or 4 reps in every set are when you need to buckle down, and bang them out.
While repping out an exercise, you'll start to feel "the burn", this burn is an increase in hydrogen ions and that makes your muscles fatigued and they will slowly stop contracting as hard and fast. When this starts happening it is vital that you grind out a couple more reps (as long as form is flawless). Pushing out those reps at the end is exactly what releases lipase, which is an enzyme that promotes fat breakdown. Also, those last few brutal reps will promote certain hormones to be released, like Testosterone and Growth Hormone that will aid in increasing lean body mass, fat burning and recovery (while you sleep). This is why sleep is so important if you're lifting weights often.
It really comes down to the small additional push that you give yourself each and every set that will make a huge improvement over time....
Use Heavier Weights (after form is perfect)
Grind Reps out at the end of each Set
Eat for Fuel