Tuesday, January 29, 2008

How to Overcome Weight Training Plateaus

When you are stuck with a certain weight on a certain exercise but are progressing across the board with the rest of your program there are a few things you can do.

Sometimes making five pound weight jumps is too much for most people. The problem, however is that you have no other choice. Most gyms only carry 2.5 pound plates which amount to a five pound increase when you put one on each side of the bar. With dumbbells it’s even worse because they go up in five pound increments which amount to ten pounds total. The way around this is to invest in some 1.25 pound plates and some Plate Mates. If you search the internet you can some sites that carry 1.25 pound plates or even one pound plates. These are great for adding to the bar in order to make small, consistent gains, week after week. Plate Mates are weighted magnets that come in 1.25 and 5/8 pound increments. They can be stuck on the end of dumbbells to allow for smaller increases from week to week. I highly recommend that you invest in both of these if you are interested in making continual progress and never want to hit another plateau.

If you don’t yet have one or 1.25 pound plates or Plate Mates you could add weight to the bar even if it means you have to drop out of your rep range slightly. So if you are supposed to be doing 5-8 reps in your program but are stuck with 225 pounds for seven and can’t go up you could actually try going to 230 at your next workout. While this may sound counterintuitive at first you have to realize that it is a new stimulus so at least you are not repeating the same thing again which does nothing to help you make progress. Even if you only get four reps with 230, it’s ok; it’s still something new. Next week you will try to get five reps with 230 and so on and so on. You will find, over time, some of your muscle groups have better endurance than others and that it is easier to add reps on some exercises while it is easier to simply add weight on others. This is just something that is very individual and which you will have to monitor closely over time.

The next thing you can do to break your plateau is to skip your second set of the exercise and instead of doing two straight sets do just one rest-pause set. So you would go to failure with 225, which in our hypothetical example would be six reps. At that point you put the weight down and take 10-15 deep breaths while resting 20-30 seconds. After your brief rest period grab the weight again and proceed to go to failure. You will usually get about half the reps you did on the first set so this would be three reps in our example. Repeat the sequence one more time and then move on to your next exercise. At the following workout you would try to beat the total number of reps that you got in the three sets.

Another option is to make a slight change to the way you do the exercise. Sometimes moving your grip in or out to the strongest position is enough of a change to get you on the road to progress again. So if you are bench pressing with a 26 inch grip you could move it out to a 30 inch grip. Most people will be stronger with a slightly wider grip because the range of motion is slightly less. If you were doing a chin up or pulldown you could move your grip inwards where you would again be stronger. This basically becomes a new stimulus that the body is not prepared for. It will also allow you to get more reps with the same weight or increase the weight which is a new stimulus as well as mentally stimulating and refreshing.

So there you have it, a variety of ways to bust through your plateaus and keep making consistent, steady progress. The end result will be a considerably bigger, stronger you.

Now go get after it.

For more ideas on how to get out of your rut and smash through plateaus check out MuscleGainingSecrets.com.