We’ve all been there: you’re doing great for a few weeks, then suddenly hit a plateau. You can’t seem to make any more progress, so why even bother going to the gym? If this sounds familiar and you’re ready to break through that training plateau, we have some advice for you.
Change up the reps!
Routine is good. If you’re working out regularly, your body is used to the stresses of exercise and can adapt quickly. But what happens when you want to change things up? The best way for your muscles to keep adapting is by changing the rep scheme (the number of reps performed per set). For example, if you typically cycle between 3 sets of 10, 5 sets of 8, and 1 set of 12—or some other combination like that—you can vary it with four or five different ways so that your muscles are constantly being challenged.
Changing up your rep scheme every 2–3 weeks while adding intensity will help stimulate muscle growth while preventing plateaus from setting in!
Linear progression is the most common way to increase weight. It involves increasing the weight you lift by a predictable amount each workout, usually 5-10 pounds for each exercise.
Once you’re able to complete a set with your new weight, you drop back down to your previous workout weight and do 2 more sets before moving onto another exercise.
Over time, this method can enable you to make rapid gains in strength and size—but only if done correctly! Here are some tips that will help ensure your linear progress stays on track:
- The first week of a new cycle should be very light.
- If progress stalls or slows down after several weeks of consistent training at one load, reduce it by 5-10%.
- Always keep rest periods between sets under 3 minutes
- Build in deload weeks to avoid over training your body.
Take a break.
If you find yourself stuck in a plateau, one of the best things you can do is take a break from your training. If this is not an option, then consider reducing the number of days that you train each week. While some people may think it’s better to avoid taking time off and just push through plateaus, this isn’t always the case. Instead of trying to “grind through” these hard times with additional workouts and cardio sessions (that will likely only add injury and burnout), try taking a step back for a few weeks before jumping back into things full force again.
Manage your stress
Stress is a factor in many cases of training plateaus. Stress can come from personal life issues, work-related stress, or even just being unwell. When you’re stressed out, your body releases cortisol, which makes it harder to build muscle and recover properly from workouts.
Avoiding the stressors that cause you anxiety or worry is one of the best ways to reduce your overall level of stress, but if that cannot be avoided it’s best to not add more stress and force heavy demands on yourself.
Be smart. When outside stressors are influencing your training take notice and modify the workout accordingly.
Proper rest and recovery.
Rest and recovery are essential for muscle growth, especially if you’re working out regularly. In the same way that your car needs to take a break from driving in order to recharge its engine, your body needs time off from working out in order to rebuild itself.
Sleep is important for muscle growth as well. If you aren’t getting enough sleep, it can throw off your hormones and will prevent you from recovering properly between workouts. Sleep also helps restore energy levels so that when it comes time for a workout again (or even just an afternoon of yard work), you have the energy required to carry out any tasks that arise during the day with ease and without fatigue or exhaustion weighing down on them.
Plateaus can happen. Life is never a linear progression, but a series of ebbs and flows. We take small steps forward and small steps backward every day, but if we look back from when we started we will see we are way ahead! Remember to have fun with your training and enjoy the process.
If you need extra assistance or just want to talk it out with a Coach don’t hesitate to reach out!