Return on Investment: In the Gym
The novice linear progression program establishes a baseline level of strength for new lifters. During this period, strength adaptations are large and occur rapidly – you are significantly stronger workout-to-workout, able to add weight to the bar each time you go to the gym. This is the low-hanging fruit of strength gains and it’s essential that this period of training is fully utilized because it has the biggest impact on a lifter’s training career.
However, the longer you train, the harder you have to work for smaller, less frequent, and less impactful strength gains.
The Law of Diminishing (Strength) Returns
In strength training, your return on investment (ROI) is used to describe the net benefit of continued strength increases compared to the amount of resources (being time, effort, energy, etc) that you must invest to stimulate that increase. When you’re first starting, your resource investment is fairly small: You don’t spend a lot of time in the gym, you don’t have to work super hard at the beginning, you can loosely track your recovery variables.
There will eventually come a point when your (ROI) reaches its peak, and progress beyond this point is not worth the investment: This is called the law of diminishing returns. It means the amount of resources you pour into strength training will not be worth the resulting strength adaptations. As an example, elite and advanced lifters consistently train for hours and hours every day and maintain strict control over their diet and sleep for a couple pound increase in their 1 rep maxes. Most people will not want to adopt this extreme lifestyle to add a couple pounds to their squat.
Strong Enough? What Now?
The truth is, the average lifter isn’t interested in spending more than 6 hours in the gym every week. They may not want to count all their macros every single day. They don’t want to turn down life experiences to make sure they get 8-10 hours of sleep every night.
It’s important for you, as a lifter, to figure out where this peak is and plan how you’re going to adapt your training when you reach this point. It’s difficult to do, but luckily, Starting Strength Online coaches are more than qualified to help you maximize your ROI, find your peak, and plan your training so you can continue to be strong and enjoy your time in the gym!