There’s a point in training where everyone hits a plateau, it may be when you stop losing weight, stop gaining mass, or peak with how much you can lift. The body is an amazing machine, it adapts to the stress we put it under pretty quickly and it takes more/different stress on the system to effect change. This is when many people get frustrated and fall off of training. So the question is, what do you do?
The answer is not to train harder, but rather to train different. Just pushing harder or working out longer will help a little, but not much. The body responds to new stresses, so changing frequently helps to keep your body adapting (and it’s also less boring).
There are many ways to vary your routine. How you do so depends on what your current training looks like and also what your goals are. Here are a few ideas to get you started.
Try pick-ups and/or sprints (cardio)
If you normally do steady state cardio (same pace for a certain period of time), try changing up the pace. Alternate between your normal speed and one that is a good bit faster. Or break the total time that you do cardio up into smaller segments where you sprint for a ways and then cool back down to your resting state.
Decrease reps and increase weight.
– this increases the recruitment of fast twitch muscle fibers. It also maintains the intensity of the workout while shortening the length of any given set. You may just be surprised at how much you can lift when you don’t just reach for the weights you are used to.
Increase sets/decrease reps
– pretty self explanatory here. This increases your overall volume, but not by a huge amount and can help maintain mental focus across more of your workout. (You may also try combining this with the first strategy to increase your workout intensity )
Change the speed with which you lift
-most people lift with a pretty regular pace, 1 second down/1 second hold/1 second back up. Try adjusting this pace to increase the time on the “down” or eccentric portion of the exercise as this strength is often undertrained and is important for joint stability.
Last but not least
Change the exercises
Hopefully you already know that it is good to train all of the major muscle groups (pecs, lats, traps, delts, glutes, hamstrings, quads, abs, calves). Many people split these up to where they target a certain area or areas on different days. There are many different exercises which workout the same muscle group. For example to target the chest, one can perform flat bench press, incline press, decline press, or chest flys (among others). There are also any number of hand positions for each of those options. (Close grip, wide grip, neutral). Try alternating between different exercises or variations on your favorites. This will keep the direction of stress changing as well as alternating between some of the smaller supporting groups which you may not be addressing when you do the same old exercises over and over.
Hopefully this was a helpful jumping off point for anyone who has reached a plateau in their training. Feel free to comment or message me with questions or suggestions.