Do you remember the time when you were first in the gym, making progress every single session? There wasn’t a time when you weren’t lifting more reps or adding size and strength, but then suddenly the progress stopped despite training and eating the same way. This continued for week after week and no matter how hard you tried you couldn’t break the cycle. What had happened is that you had hit a plateau. A plateau is a common occurrence that happens to everyone at some point, if not multiple times over a number of years. Many people just accept a plateau, as reaching their potential and level, but this does not have to be the case. The following article explores ways that you may break plateaus and continue making progress in strength and body composition.
ADAPT OR STAGNATE Adaptation in range of reps, exercise order and exercises is critical to breaking a plateau. The body adapts to the same consistent stimulus, so it is critical to adapt. Whilst there are exercises which provide the foundations of most plans, such as overhead presses, bench presses, bent over rows, deadlifts and squats, there are even variations for each of these movements.
MAKE REGULAR CHANGES Whilst six week training plans represent the norm for most training plans, once you become experienced, it is no longer entirely necessary. Whilst it is easier to track progress and analyse improvements with a consistent plan, they can become tedious and provide the stimulus required to maximise your potential. Mixing up training with different exercises and repetition ranges can provide the exact stimulus to break plateaus and make great progress.
FOCUS ON YOUR WEAKNESSES Sometimes when progress has halted, it me be that specific factors may be the reason. In many lifts like overhead presses people have a tendency of failing at specific points of the lift, such as at lock out or at the midpoint. In order to make advancements, it is necessary to focus on weaknesses by adding a few extra sets, and exercises through the course of the training week.
GIANT SETS FOR GIANT PROGRESS Giant sets put a great deal of pressure on the muscles and provide another type of stimulus. Simply perform three to 5 exercises back to back without rest at approximately 60% of your one rep maximum. It is also a great way of finishing a session to ensure that the muscles have been fatigued.
SHARING IS BETTER THAN BEING ALONE! GET A GOOD TRAINING PARTNER Self-directed goals and motivation are critical to making consistent long term progress. However, a good training partner is a great way of maintaining motivation. Constantly having to motivate yourself is exhausting so having other people to provide encouragement or well-meaning abuse before reaching failure and fatigue points can really help you maximise performance in training and work that little bit harder to make progress.
MAKE A MIND MUSCLE CONNECTION The Mind Muscle Connection is critical to making progress and development. When you exercise particularly when carrying out compound movements, synergistic muscles and secondary muscle groups are activated. It means that you can lift more weight and also spread tension through the different muscle groups meaning a lower growth potential. By making a mind muscle connection to the target muscle group, development may be improved.
Everyone goes through plateaus at some point during their training, but by employing advice like the tips above, you will reduce the time that these plateaus last and maximise your physical potential.