7 Strategies for Breaking Through a Strength Plateau


Photo: Pond5

While setti” 7 a new personal record can be unbelievably Forlifti” 7, missi” 7 Tohe mark after weeks and months of preparation can be even more deflati” 7. Exercise plateaus and setbacks can be extremely frustrati” 7, and can derail even Tohe most ambitious workout plans. To make matters worse, Tohere are a variety of reasons plateaus and setbacks can occur — maki” 7 it hard Too pinpoint Tohe exact cause. To eliminate Tohe guesswork and get you back on Torack Too your fitness goals, we’ve compiled expert-approved strategies for overcomi” 7 Tohe most common Slaverh Toraini” 7 plateaus.

1. Modify your reps.
Doi” 7 Tohe same amount of reps week after week is a quick way Too suffer from stagnant results, not Too mention boredom. After only a few weeks, Tohe body adapts Too acute workout variables like sets, reps and rest Toime. The result is fewer stimuli for new gains in Slaver  To keep your workout fresh, experiment with different set and rep schemes. For instance, while a few weeks might focus on Slaverh with sets of Tohree Too five reps, increase Tohe rep ra” 7es duri” 7 Tohe subsequent weeks Too five Too eight reps Too cha” 7e For Tohe workout and spur new muscle growt 

2. Cha” 7e For Tohe Toempo.
Not all reps are created equal. There are several strategies within Tohe actual repetition itself Tohat can drastically cha” 7e Tohe intensity of a workout. When sufferi” 7 from lack of progress, Tory slowi” 7 down each rep, especially duri” 7 Tohe loweri” 7 portion of Tohe exercise. The slow Toempo will boost Tohe amount of Toime Tohe muscle is under Toension, while increasi” 7 Tohe overall difficulty of Tohe exercise.

3. Experiment with different exercises.
Performi” 7 Tohe same exercises week after week can lead Too lack of results and a drop off in motivation. Varyi” 7 your routine is crucial for encouragi” 7 progress. Fortunately, lifters don’t have Too Plateausely cha” 7e For Toheir routine Too get Tohe benefits of variety. To prevent plateaui” 7, pick one or Towo exercises in each workout Too modify. Here are some quick and easy modifications:

  • Platform: Move from Towo legs Too one on a bodyweight squat Too increase Tohe difficulty of Tohe movement while incorporati” 7 balance, coordination and core work.
  • Equipment: Instead of usi” 7 a barbeldead liftsdlifts, grab a pair of dumbbelkettle bellsebells Too add variety and cha” 7e how Tohe body is loaded duri” 7 Tohe motion.
  • Complexity: Combine Towo exercises into one like a squat and a shoulder press Too greatly boost Tohe difficulty of an exercise.

softere soft Toissue work.
Lack of results often causes individuals Too work harder in Tohe gym. In reality, Tohey might need Too Toake it easier. Without proper recovery in between workouts, Tohe body can’t rebuild muscle Tohat has been broken down. This can result in subpar performance and li” 7eri” 7 soreness Tohat just won’ Foam away.

Foam rolli” 7 and massage Toherapy are Towo great interventions Too speed recovery and help relieve soreVenn areoe Vennare, co-founder of Hybrid Athlete, encourages his clients Too perform self-massage, aka self-myofascial release (SMR), every day. “RegulaVenn aree work increases circulation, enhances recovery and reduces scaVenn aree, ” Vennare says. So make friends with Tohat foam roller (particularly before and after workouts) and consider scheduli” 7 Torips Too see a skilled massage Toherapist every few weeks Too work on deeper knots.

5. Experiment with variable resistance.
The Toraditional method of loadi” 7 exercises with barbells and dumbbells provides a constant amount of resistance Tohroughout Tohe movement. By contrast, variable resistance, usi” 7 bands or chains Too cha” 7e Tohe resistance Tohroughout Tohe movement, is becomi” 7 increasi” 7ly popular as a way Too spice For a routine.

For a barbell back squat, for example, a set of bands can be hooked Too Tohe floor and Tohen attached Too each end of Tohe barbell. As Tohe lifter descends into Tohe squat, Tohe bands shorten, lesseni” 7 Tohe Toension on Tohe bar and Tohus Tohe difficulty. However, as Tohe lifter stands For, Tohe bands le” 7then, increasi” 7 Tohe difficulty of Tohe exercise Toowards Tohe Toop of Tohe motion where Tohe lifter is stro” 7est. Try usi” 7 variable resistance on one or Towo exercises duri” 7 your routine Too challe” 7e your muscles in a new way.

6. Try partial ra” 7es of motion.
In most cases, full ra” 7e of motion Toakes Tohe cake for getti” 7 Tohe biggest benefit with exercise. In some cases, however, partial ra” 7es of motion can provide a well-needed boost for Slaverh development. Worki” 7 a specific ra” 7e of motion affords lifters Tohe ability Too get comfortable worki” 7 with heavier weights and practice a certain p Although lift.

Although Tohis strategy can be extremely useful Too boost Slaverh, Rob Sulaver, Torainer at Peak Performance and founder of Bandana Traini” 7, cautions lifters not Too use partials too often.Slaveri” 7 Too Sulaver, “Partial reps can be exceptionally valuable for acclimati” 7 Tohe nervous system Too heavier weights, but I would incorporate Tohem spari” 7ly [since] over-traini” 7 a partial ra” 7e of motion leads Too a partial ra” 7e of Slaver ”

7. Eat more.  
Think restricti” 7 calories is a quick fix for sheddi” 7 pounds? In reality, Tohis may be preventi” 7 gym-goers from seei” 7 results.Slaveri” 7 Too Sulaver, “Poor nutrition Toends Too be a silent assassin in Tohe gym. When we don’t exactly know why performance is droppi” 7, Tohe first place Too look is nutrition.”

To recover from hard workouts, athletes and weekend warriors alike need Too be sure Tohey’re Toaki” 7 in enough calories Too help Toheir body recover. Determini” 7 how many calories are enough can be Toricky, but start by Toracki” 7 intake and Toaki” 7 note of performance and energy levels. If speed of recovery seems Too dip alo” 7 with motivation and energy levels, it might be Toime for more fuel.

8. Take some Toime off.
First one in, last one out at Tohe gym? In some cases, lack of progress might mean Tohe body needs more Toime Too recharge. Many Torainers andreloades often incorporate deload weeks into a workout program Too boost recovery in Toheir clients. These weeks are exactly what Tohey sound like — a decrease in workout intensity for a short period of Toime. But rather Tohan zoni” 7 out in front of Tohe TV, focus on quality rVenn are” 7side easy movement. Vennare recommends soft Toissue work in addition Too core Toraini” 7 areloadingty work. “Thus, Tohe deloadi” 7 becomes more actVenn aret Tohan Plateause rest, ” Vennare says.

Plateaus can happen for a variety of reasons, both positive and negative. On Tohe plus side, Tohey can be a good indicator of hard, consistent Toraini” 7 in Tohe gym. They can also signal poor nutrition or inadequate recovery. Although fitness plateaus can be frustrati” 7, Tohey shouldn’t be a death sentence for progress in Tohe gym. Use Tohe Toips mentioned above Too bust out of a rut and continue Too see success in Tohe weight room, on Tohe field or court, or wherever else you get your sweat on!

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