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Lifting Plateau

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Plateau Solutions 

What’s more frustrating that someone doing curls in the squat rack? How about hitting a rut that prevents you from more gains? Break your plateau with these helpful hacks here are your plateau solutions.

Stuck at 315 pounds on your squat for the last three weeks?

Not able to push out that tenth rep on your bench press? Chances are you’ve hit a training plateau. Weight training is progressive. Each training session, the goal is to get stronger whether that’s getting an extra rep or lifting a little bit more weight. The progressive overload principle involves increasing the amount of stress on the body gradually (i.e. lifting more weight or doing more reps).

By gradually increasing the stress, it makes the body adapt. The human body is always trying to adapt, searching for the new normal. After months of gaining progress each week in the weight room, the body has found its new normal and there is little progression. You’re stuck in a rut. Training plateaus are normal and everyone hits one sooner or later. Resting, changing exercise variations and adding some high-intensity interval training are just a few of the ways to break through a training plateau.

#1 Get Your Rest

One of the most common themes in fitness is overtraining and that could be the main reason you’re stuck in a training rut. Want a way out? Rest, rest and rest some more. The body has to have time to recover from the amount of stress placed on it during each workout. If you’re consistently putting in full effort in the weight room, you should have multiple days off per week.

The muscle-building process involves breaking down the muscles before building them back up, stronger, leaner and larger. After each workout, your muscles have experienced trauma in the form of small tears in the muscle fibers. During your rest period, the body works to repair those tears and makes them stronger. Without enough rest, the muscles don’t get the recovery they need. Strength gains level off or even decrease and performance slides.

Why? 

The body’s central nervous system is fatigued. It’s an easy fix. Just take a week off from lifting and use this time to allow the body to repair itself.

#2 Have You Tried Doing Supersets?

Adding supersets to your workout can add variety to your routine and help push you past your training plateau. Supersets involve performing one set of an exercise immediately followed by one set of another exercise. There’s no rest in between until all sets are finished. For example, super setting leg extensions and leg curls hits both the quadriceps and hamstrings, allowing one group to rest while performing the other exercise.

Performing supersets gives not only strength benefits, but also aerobic perks as the heart rate rises due to no rest in between sets. If your workout routine involves completing three sets of 10 reps for each exercise with one minute of rest between each set, consider adding some variety. Supersetting can shock your muscles, save you time in the gym and spike your metabolism to keep you burning calories for a longer period of time. Change Rep Range

# 3 Change Your Rep Range

Are you sticking to your standard sets but not seeing the results?

Switch up your rep range. Adhering to a specific program with certain rep ranges is a great way to progress your workouts and to keep track of it. But, adding a little variety to your routine is perfectly fine and when you hit the exercise wall, it’s needed. Many gym-goers suffer from exercise ADD and switch up their routine every time they step foot in the gym.

Don’t do that. Instead, if your program calls for five sets of five reps, perform three sets of eight reps. When you change your rep range for a few weeks, the body will once again be forced to adapt. Keep it guessing and don’t let it get in a comfort zone. Find your baselines for your new rep range and progress from there. After three to four weeks of this new rep range, switch back to your regular program and find your new best.

Don’t do that. Instead, if your program calls for five sets of five reps, perform three sets of eight reps. When you change your rep range for a few weeks, the body will once again be forced to adapt. Keep it guessing and don’t let it get in a comfort zone. Find your baselines for your new rep range and progress from there. After three to four weeks of this new rep range, switch back to your regular program and find your new best.

#4 Assess Your Diet

There is more to training than just the hour you spend at the gym. If you don’t give your body the right foods, your progress will be hindered. To get out of your training rut, reassess everything you put in your body. First, get rid of all processed foods that make up your diet.

This includes items with added sugars, trans fats and chemicals. Throw these foods out. That includes cereals, bagels and cookies. Next, determine your protein intake. The goal should be at least one gram of protein per pound of bodyweight. If you’re achieving this already, add a little extra to your diet as proteins help build muscle. It also helps with fat loss and more importantly, fills you up better. Opt for lean sources of protein such as chicken, fish, pork and eggs.

Next, look at your sources of fats. Your diet should consist of plenty of healthy fats such as salmon, eggs, nuts and avocados. Follow this up by increasing your intake of fruits and veggies. These are healthy options that are not only low calorie, but also full of nutrients, vitamins and minerals. The final group is carbs. Try to limit your carbs to mainly post-training. The body relies on carbs for energy, but many overeat them and choose unhealthy sources.

Fruits, whole grains and sweet potatoes are all healthy carb sources. Once you determine what to eat, start planning your meals. Try to have a well-balanced meal plan with proteins, fruits and veggies at every meal. Space out your meals evenly and limit it to several small meals if possible to avoid overeating. If you put cheap gas in your car, it won’t run as efficiently. The same goes for your body. Put premium fuel in your body and you’ll get over the training hump.

#5 Your Technique Matters

Lifting with poor technique not only stops your progress in its tracks, but it can also put you on the sidelines for a while with an injury. Every day in the weight room, every rep should be done with the goal of perfect form. If you can’t do a lift correctly, work on it with a bar or very light weight. If your goal is to deadlift a personal best but you do it with poor form, you aren’t doing yourself any favors. Not only are you performing this lift wrong, but also your chances of injury skyrocket.

Step back and reassess.

Go through the exercise step-by-step and break it down. What are you doing differently and what’s the best way to correct it? Do you feel increased stress on your shoulder during a bench press? Chances are your grip is too wide. Do your exercises with emphasis on form and performing them to perfection.

#6 Trade Isolation For Compound Moves

Your workouts will intensify by cutting back on isolation exercises such as biceps curls and calf raises and focusing on compound movements. Isolation exercises have a place in workouts as they help pinpoint one muscle group and target just that. But, unless you’re trying to get rid of muscle imbalances or work around an injury, isolation exercises pale in comparison to compound lifts.

Compound exercises, such as squats or bench presses, are movements that work multiple muscle groups and should be the foundation of any program. These movements recruit more muscles and are also much more efficient, giving you more bang for your buck. More importantly, they place the body under a lot of stress, which causes more testosterone production. More testosterone flowing in your system will lead to an increasing amount of lean muscle. Cut out the isolation lifts for two to three weeks and stick to the big boy movements.

#7 Change Your Ways

Do you train exclusively with barbells? How about only performing one type of squat? Changing exercise variables including equipment, exercise type, stance or grip, can help force your muscles to adapt and push past a plateau. Sticking to a program with proper progressions is the best way to get results. But, sometimes you need to sprinkle some variety in to get past a certain weight or get one more rep.

Change up your exercises. Instead of doing a normal back squat, try a front squat or go wider with your stance. Use dumbbells on your bench press instead of barbells. Include some more single-leg training with lunges and single-leg deadlifts. Changing up the variables too often doesn’t allow your body to adapt to the stress you are putting on it. By finding a new stance or using different equipment for a few weeks to break past a plateau, you are forcing your body to

Changing up the variables too often doesn’t allow your body to adapt to the stress you are putting on it. By finding a new stance or using different equipment for a few weeks to break past a plateau, you are forcing your body to adapt to new stress. Modifying can help work different muscles and work on some imbalances you may have created in your normal training program. This can help vault you past your plateau.

# 8 Muscle Imbalances Keep You Stuck

By focusing on fixing muscle imbalances and working on your weaknesses it will help to push your strength and conditioning to a new level. Weight training programs should be based around compound training movements such as a squat or overhead press.

These moves work multiple muscle groups, are the key to building strength and lean muscle, and we perform these moves in our everyday life. But, your program must have balance. Your program can’t be predominantly pushing movements and neglect pulling ones. If you don’t have a balanced program, it creates weaknesses in certain muscles and it may not only throw off your posture and increase your risk of injury, but your ceiling for growth will be lower. Are you stuck at 315 pounds on your max bench press, but perform multiple pushing exercises every workout?

Chances are you need to start adding some pulling movements such as a bent over row and lat pulldown. The primary muscles worked in a bench press are the pectoral muscles, as well as the anterior deltoid. But, stronger lats can push your bench press to new heights. At the bottom of the bench press movement, which is the most challenging because you’re at the bottom of the range of motion, the lats help with the initial lift off the chest. By creating a well-balanced body, you can be stronger and push toward your goals.

#9 Break Plateaus With HIIT

Can cardio help your weight training?

Absolutely! But, for that to happen, you need to be doing high-intensity interval training (HIIT). HIIT involves going at an all-out effort for short bursts. Ranging from sprints to short biking intervals to bear crawls and more, HIIT is a very efficient form of cardio. Differing greatly from the normal, moderate paced, steady-state cardio, HIIT helps preserve the muscle you’ve built up.

Have you been doing regular steady-state cardio along with strength training and feel like you’ve reached your strength limits?

The short, vigorous intervals place a lot of stress on the body and keep burning calories up to 24 hours after your workout. It amps up your metabolism and boosts human growth hormone production, which helps build lean muscle mass.

Cut down on your cardio and do some HIIT at the end of your session. Jump on the treadmill and do five, 15-second sprints followed by 45 seconds of a walking pace. In just five minutes, you’ve revved up your metabolism and finished your cardio for the day. Try this three times per week at the end of your workout and your performance in the weight room will start to shine again. Find a lifting partner

#10 Get A Training Partner

Working out by yourself can be peaceful as it gives you some alone time. Finding a good workout partner though can make a world of a difference. Not only can they help you with your technique and be a spotter for some of your heavier lifts, but they can be a motivating force. You won’t be motivated every day you hit the gym.

That’s just the way things are. With a workout buddy, they can help lift your spirits. Do you ever find yourself not pushing very hard? Your partner can push you. If they’re lifting more weight than you, it pushes you to lift more weight. Pushing past plateaus is tough and we all hit training ruts. You have to do the heavy lifting yourself, but having a friend in your corner can only help. Ignite Banner

Conclusion

Plateaus happen in training. You won’t boost your weight lifting or rep count in every gym session. But, these 10 strategies can help you bust through. When you’re feeling like progress has stalled, sit back and assess your program. What am I doing wrong? Am I not resting enough? Is my program not well balanced? These strategies can help answer those questions and get you back to achieving positive results in your training. By Adam Clark, CPT

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