Many gym and fitness enthusiasts often mention that they have hit a plateau whether it is with their strength gain goals or with their weight loss goals. Many factors can contribute to these plateaus.
Plateaus are something that comes with the territory of trying to make improvements and can easily be altered or improved using slight modifications. First and foremost do not let these plateaus get you frustrated or discouraged.
I will begin to explain several variable or modifications to help deal with this obstacles.
#1: Set Up a Workout Program
First suggestion I would make is if you do not have a workout program set up, then experiment with one. Keep in mind that you have to try it for at least four weeks in order to see some results. I recommend six weeks personally.
Certain workout programs practically lay out the sets and reps for you and also give you structure as well as proper periodization. This proper periodization structure will keep you on track and also gives you structure to your workout regimen.
A prime example of a periodization structure would be the OPT Model that the National Academy of Sports Medicine has in their text. This particular format has the tempo variables, sets and reps, as well percentages planned out at each week for you.
#2: Switch Up Recovery Times
The next suggestion I would make is to switch up your recovery time in between sets or exercises. For example, instead of taking 60-90 second rest intervals, shorten those rest intervals down to 30-45 seconds.
This will force you body to work harder as well as maximize your energy expenditure during your workouts.
#3: Try Different Tempos
Another variable suggestion I would recommend trying is the tempo at which you perform your particular exercises. Let’s use the bench press for example, you have three types of muscle contractions. These are Concentric, Eccentric and Isometric.
The bench press variable could be to perform a pause rep once the bar touches your chest before ascending the bar back up to the starting position.
This slight modification helps with control as well as power increase as the result of the primer movers (pectorals) experiencing a slight relaxation period during the pause.
#4: Perform New Motions
Another variable for this particular exercise could be to performing a 3-1-1 style rep motion. This is performed by lowering the bar or loading the prime movers on a three second count, pausing at the bottom of the exercise and then ascending back up through the contraction phase of the movement.
This slight variable adds more tension to the muscle fibers being recruited as well as places more demand and focus on the prime mover muscles.
#5: Do Pyramid Sets
Another variation change could be performing pyramid or drop sets. These can be done all at once. For example, begin the first with 15 repetitions, then next set be 12 repetitions, ten, eight, and six on the last set.
This sequence takes you through a progressively lighter workload into a heavier workload. Once that last set of six repetitions is completed you can work your way back up in the same rep order with progressively heavier to lighter work loads depending on the exercise.
This particular format can be very helpful in defeating those annoying plateaus.
Drop sets or pyramid sets give you both the muscular endurance phase of strength training as well as the hypertrophy phase of strength training.
So for your next workout give this few tips I mentioned a try and if done correctly you should see great improvements.
Go kick down those plateau walls!