No matter the sport or fitness activity you are doing, at one point you will hit a plateau. Your body will get used to the exercises you are performing and it won’t progress anymore. It happens for muscle gain, strength increase or just overall performance.
That moment when you are not progressing anymore in your workouts is called a plateau. There are many reasons why this may happen, but luckily there are also plenty of solutions to get over it.
When you hit a plateau you have 3 choices:
- you either continue like that with no more progress,
- you quit training at all or
- you bust through the plateau and keep on going stronger than ever.
If you decide to choose the last option, in this article you will learn 8 ways to achieve that. But first let’s see how you can tell when you reached a plateau.
Signs You Have Hit A Plateau
- A Loss In Strength
- Failure To Achieve A Pump
- A Lack of Motivation
- No Progress in at least 2 Workouts
- Feeling Flush
- A Lack of Aggression and an Increase in Cortisol (Stress)
- No Progress In Muscle Gain in at least 2 Weeks
- Variances in Resting Heart Rate
- A Decrease in Appetite
We saw the problem, so now let’s look at the solutions:
8 Ways To Bust Through A Plateau
1. Take A Week for Rest and Recovery
Most people are associating muscle growth or any type of progress with the moments when they are training. But the muscles actually grow when you are resting.
When you are working out, your muscles are broken down (microscopic tears), and then they are rebuilding bigger and stronger than before
So in order for your body to grow bigger and stronger it needs plenty of rest.
You need to sleep properly, to eat properly and to avoid daily stress. But that is simply not possible, and sometimes you just need a longer break.
So you should plan a recovery week every 6-8 weeks, where you don’t train at all. This has both physical and psychological benefits
2. Go The Extra Mile
Or apply the “post-failure heavy overloading method”
This one works for bodybuilding and it requires you to push your body further than its limits.
Let’s say that you were bench pressing 60 kgs. for 6 reps and you simply can’t do more than that. You can’t add any more weight and you also can’t do more reps.
The solution is to perform the sets as usual, then put the weight back, wait for 20 seconds and then pick it back up and do as many reps as you can. Even if it’s just 1 or 2 more, this will make your body break that plateau and grow further.
3. Do Drop Sets
This method involves to add additional volume after you reached failure, in order to create even more “damage” to the muscle and stimulate new growth.
For example, if you can do 8 reps of biceps curls with 35kgs., you will then immediately do 6 reps with 25 kg., 5 reps with 20 kgs. and another 5 reps with 15 kgs.
This technique can be applied in various ways, and can work well for small muscle groups and isolation exercises
4. Do Super Sets
A superset is when you combine 2 or more exercises and do them immediately one after the other, with no rest.
They can be applied for the same muscle group, but also for opposing muscle groups.
The possibilities are endless and this is a good technique to increase intensity in the gym, without actually spending more time there.
5. Do Assisted Forced Repetitions
Spotting is very common in fitness and guys are always helping each other. But sometimes they are doing it wrong, helping the other person way too much. This will not trigger any growth.
The best way is to have someone spot you only on your last set and only when you reach the point of failure (when you can’t move the weight anymore).
Also try to lower the weight yourself, and only have the spotter help you when pushing it up again
6. Do Yoga & Pilates
You might think that these activities have nothing to do with fitness and they are “only for women”, but this is far from the truth.
Yoga & Pilates can highly improve your flexibility, allowing you to better perform the exercises in the gym.
By having more mobility, you can then go deeper on squats, have a better form when doing deadlifts, have a stronger core when doing military presses and so on.
By performing these exercises better, you will recruit new muscle fibers and continue to progress, even by using the same weights. You can also release stiff and tensioned muscles, and recover quicker.
7. Change Your Rep Range
Changing the number of reps you are doing should be done every 4-8 weeks. This interval is so wide because it depends on multiple factors.
For example, a beginner can follow the same program for 3 months and still see progress, but an experienced trainee should change something every 4 weeks.
You can either do the same amount of sets with more reps per set, or less sets with less reps per set (but with more weight).
The idea is to do small changes, to coax your body to grow instead of shocking it too much.
8. Change Variables on Exercises
This technique should be applied after all the previous ones are completed.
You can change the grip position on the barbell (either a wider or a narrower one), you can change foot spacing when doing squats, using dumbbells instead of a barbell, using different machines and so on.
Apply one of these techniques each time you hit a plateau, and you will definitely make more gains and more progress.
Do not apply all of these methods at once!
Make just one change, perform the new program until you no longer make progress, and then apply another technique.
If you want to join our Yoga & Pilates classes to improve your posture and mobility, contact us for more details.