5 Ways To Avoid A Training Plateau
Words and numbers on a page cannot change your body - the program just provides a structure to your training so you manage to train all necessary body parts. Sticking to one program forever will eventually lead to plateaued progress because one singular day following your program cannot give you the same amount of stimulation compared to when you first performed it. Your muscles can adapt too well to the same stimulus, leading to diminishing returns. Unfortunately, this may cause slow muscle gains and/ or fat loss. This phenomenon is usually more apparent in trainees who have participated in weight lifting for many months/years, whose muscle adaptation is already high. Here are 5 ways to prevent your muscles from ever reaching that point.
1. Use The Rule Of Three
Every 3 weeks you should change the equipment you use when training any body part. If it's a bicep curl with a barbell then change to dumbbells or cables, or change your grip to hit the muscle from a different angle. Every 3 months your program should look completely different, change everything - equipment, rep range, set structures (i.e. drop sets, super sets, rest pause, pre-exhaust etc.), rep tempo (time taken to perform the raising and lowering of each rep), exercise order, rest periods. This will ensure the stimulus is remaining fresh and unfamiliar to your muscle fibres, forcing them to be constantly adapting in new ways. Click here for a full list of Set Variations to try out.
2. Never Perform Exercises You Hate
Intensity in a workout is always No.1, so it is impossible for an appropriate Intensity level to be reached if your heart and soul is not in an exercise. If you feel you just cannot get motivated to go all out on an exercise, yet you still perform it every session then you're just wasting your time - cut it out, you don't need it, stick to exercises you love (with emphasis on a full body approach). This will make your workouts more exciting and enjoyable and will shift focus more on progress rather than wasting it on going through the motions without purpose.
3. Never Abandon A Good Feeling
We may be feeling excellent on a particular movement during a session, but we've completed all 4 sets stated on our program and now our program says we must go and do another exercise - so you stop the exercise right? No! If you've done 4 sets on Leg press and you felt excellent, strong and effective with it then don't say goodbye just yet. If your program says now you must go and do Hack Squats then remember you're in control, the Hacks can wait - do another few sets on Leg Press so you get the most out of that good feeling and then go and continue on (or skip the next exercise all together). Remember, just because you did 10 sets on one great exercise doesn't mean you've violated your potential for progress - probably the exact opposite. This applies to all exercises all the time.
4. Never Get Precious Over A Favourite Exercise
Leading on nicely from No.3 we have the unfortunate task of eliminating an under-performing employee from our muscle building task force. Again, like the situation where an exercise is feeling unbelievable and carrying on with it instead of moving on, the opposite must apply to an old favourite that you love doing but has since yielded all its muscular stimulation powers. You love Barbell rows, but you've stopped feeling a good contraction or burn - maybe your biomechanics have left it unable to solicit further gains due to strength improvements on other exercises, maybe your body cannot respond to it any more, either way it's out on the street for now. It can always come back in the future.
5. Experiment All The Time
Structures for the modern day weight training program have been around for a while now, i.e. chest on monday, back on wednesday, legs on friday, arms on saturday (and variations of). Undoubtedly there is a great power in the knowledge of this discovery, as it has lead the way for many people to chase after their dream physiques. However, the ones with the very best results are the ones who know the most about their bodies. At some point once every couple of weeks you must experiment with a new exercise or variation as a test to see if you enjoy it, respond well to it or dare I say it... absolutely despise it. Commit to discovering more about your body and in-time it will give you peace of mind that you are incorporating the very best stimulation into your training.