Busting Through A Strength Training Plateau
Plateaus are a common obstacle in strength training. In fact, unless you continuously re-evaluate and update your fitness program, it is likely that you will hit a plateau after about six months, once the strength gains you’ve achieved in the first few months of training begin to level off. The good news is, with a little bit of effort, you can overcome, or even prevent yourself from hitting a strength training plateau in the first place.
They say that variety is the spice of life. It is also the key ingredient to overcoming or avoiding a plateau. After performing the same exercise routine for several months, your muscles become efficient at performing those movements, and you no longer continue to progress as you did when you first began your workout regimen.
Varying the intensity of your workout by making your muscles work harder, as opposed to longer, is one of the most effective ways to break through a strength plateau. If you’re able to do 10-15 reps at your current weight using proper form, try increasing the weight by 5 to 10%. You may need to decrease the number of reps at first and work up to a full set.
Another way to add variety to your workout is to cross-train. Cross-training will not only help to keep your workout interesting, but will also work your muscles in a different way. If you usually use weight machines at the gym, try using free weights or resistance tubing. You can also combine exercises, such as using free weights while doing squats.
Changing the sequence of exercises in your existing routine can also help to add variety to your workout. Additionally, it will cause your muscles to fatigue in a different order, forcing them to adapt to the change and allow for a variation in your strength gains.
Though sometimes it may be enough to simply change the sequence of exercises in your fitness routine, it’s a good idea to periodically re-evaluate your routine. You may find that you need to replace some or all of the exercises, particularly those that you’ve outgrown or that are redundant. Look at the muscle group being used in each exercise, and replace it with an exercise that targets the same muscles.
Some final thoughts:
- Sometimes hitting a plateau may be a result of overtraining, which may also make you more susceptible to injury. Make sure that you give your muscles an adequate amount of time to recover between workouts. During the recovery period, your body adapts to the training you are engaging in, making rest an essential factor in your progress.
- Good nutrition is key to a successful fitness program; the nutrients you consume will help to fuel your workouts and to help your muscles recover afterwards. (Check out our article, Foods To Keep You Energized and Motivated to learn more.)
Please Note: The material on this site is provided for informational purposes only and is not medical advice. Always consult your physician before beginning any diet or exercise program.
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