The old Zig Ziglar saying, "don't be upset by the results you didn't get from the work you didn't do" reigns supreme in fitness as a whole but I am going to focus it on strength sports, Powerlifting, Olympic Lifting, Strongman, etc.
Let's tell a story to try and explain this. In our story, Rookie is interested in Powerlifting to become stronger and to perhaps compete one day. Rookie does some online homework, has someone teach him the basics of strength training and off he goes. The strength gains come quickly for Rookie which Rookie touts as either genetics, his work ethic or a combination of both. A couple of years into his training, Rookie has posted some good training PR's and is very proud of his strength. After a couple years of training, Rookie knows everything, just ask him.
Rookie continues to train his 4 - 5 days a week and the strength gains begin to slow. Is it his food? His workouts are stale maybe? Maybe he's "overtrained" (author vomits in mouth). Whatever the reason, his fast track to strength has hit a Mack truck head on at full speed. Rookie begins to get frustrated and his determination to become a great strength athlete fades.
Does this little tale sound familiar? Here is the reality of the situation. Rookie has been at this for five minutes, maybe less. In the grand scheme of strength training, Rookie is still the newest of beginners.
Strength gains ALWAYS come easy for beginners for a many number of reasons, the biggest being that their body has gone from zero - sixty in terms of strength training. They went from a "normal" lifestyle to wanting to train and get stronger. The body adapted in turn. After that very small step one, comes the very large step two.
Step Two: Real Work. Though this post isn't organized into steps, I wanted to emphasize, how big of a deal this really is. Step one is easy, you go in, workout, get stronger. Done. The truth is, Rookie didn't train hard. He only THOUGHT he was training hard. Going from nothing, to working out seems like you're working hard and in relation to the previous couch potato status, you were.
Strength sports are different though. What sets apart a strength athlete from a "gym bro"? In a term, maximum effort. Most people have NO IDEA what maximum effort is in regards to training and the majority of the time, it's not their fault. It takes someone else to push you there. It takes a coach, a knowledgeable training partner or a group to start to push you past what you thought maximum effort was. Now I am not referring to maximum effort in terms of your PR, I am simply talking about maximum effort throughout your entire workout. As a strength athlete, you MUST know how to train to your physical and mental limit to then know how to train at percentages less than that. Strength programs are based on varying these efforts to continue to force adaption and keep the central nervous system at optimal efficiency. Rookie had no chance of continuing his strength gains because he was continuing on the same path he had used for his previous two years.
If you're training four days a week, what are you doing the other three? "Resting" does not mean sitting on your fat, useless ass watching netflix. Are you doing cardio? You want to be a strength athlete? Wake up, you need cardio. Are you doing any sort of intense conditioning? Have you ever noticed how out of breath you are after lifting heavy? You need conditioning dumbass.
Training to be a strength athlete involves SO much more than just coming to the gym to hit your big three and auxiliaries. If you want to make it past your initial strength levels and push into the higher levels of strength, then you need to put in the work.
You need to look at your food, research and find what's best for you and your muscular and connective tissue recovery. (Your connective tissue plays a larger role in strength sports than your muscles do!)
Look at your training programming and make sure it is focused on your weak points, not your strong ones. Everyone loves lifting what they are good at, if you want to get stronger then you need to focus on what you are NOT good at. Stop thinking with your ego and start using your brain. Becoming stronger after your initial two years takes strategy, patience and knowledge.
Look at your recovery routine. Are you taking your supplements? Getting enough rest? Stretching? Those three things alone can increase your numbers 20 - 30%. Why are you not doing them?
What does your warm-up routine look like? Are you doing enough to prevent injury? As your weights go up, so does your risk of injury. If you're injured, you can't lift at all, so why rush your warm-up?
These are the factors that play a role in moving from the strongest in your local Planet Fitness, to the strongest in your state or region. If you are happy with ruling your gym, then by all means continue to do the same shit, but if you want more, do more.
"Don't be upset by the results you didn't get from the work you didn't do."