Have you ever felt like you’ve been working out to a T, but don’t see any results? You look in front of the mirror, check your weight, and follow the same diet yet you don’t see anything new.
You suddenly wonder if you’re doing something wrong, so you hit back the gym. Don’t fret! You are experiencing what you call a plateau. All bodybuilders and weightlifters experience this one time in their lives.
If this is the first time you’ve experienced it, don’t call it quits. Your body is telling you that it’s time to adjust. It could be a good thing though because it means you are getting stronger. So, what can you do about it?
What Factors that Affect Weight Lifting Plateaus
Before we proceed, let’s explore the reasons why bodybuilders experience a weight lifting plateau.
Weightlifters need a certain amount of stress to disrupt homeostasis. Homeostasis is when the body has already developed a stable equilibrium and has adapted to the stressors.
For example, if you have been diligently following your routine of 3 reps of lifting 40-pound weights, your body has already adapted to it.
That is also another reason why bodybuilders advanced to more strenuous weight training as they progress. You will notice that bodybuilders take on more weight over the course of months for more improvement.
Your body needs to get enough rest and restoration to achieve supercompensation. In fitness, supercompensation means that the body advances to a higher level of fitness.
The body needs to recover from stress so that it does not get overworked. In a situation where you take a day off from your usual routine, your body gets enough rest. After that, when you return to your routine, you can feel your body adjusting again.
Tips to Break Through Workout Plateau
Now that you have learned about the factors that affect weight lifting plateaus let’s discuss how we can avoid them.
- Take That Day Off
Your body needs to rest. When we say rest, not only do you need to take a day off but make sure that you get sufficient sleep.
Our cells, including the muscles, regenerate as we sleep. On an added note, avoid working out just before bedtime because you won’t be able to sleep due to the adrenalin rush.
In addition to that, taking a day off avoids overworking your muscles. Another reason why there are no improvements is that your muscles are already pushed to the limits. Let your muscles rest so they can regenerate. Remember, quality is better than quantity
- Boredom Busters
If you feel like a robot every time you perform your routine, it could be a sign that you’re bored. You don’t feel motivated anymore, and you lose the enthusiasm.
If you are getting bored, why not change your routine? You could also take a rest from the gym and sign up for outdoor activities. Swimming, biking, yoga, calisthenics, or even aerobics class are good alternatives because you are also engaged in physical activity.
You may also change your music playlist or consider signing up in a different gym location for a change in environment. Familiarity breeds boredom, so maybe it’s time to have a change in environment.
- Quality, Not Quantity
If your weight lifting has reached a plateau, why not enhance the quality instead of doing more. For example, add up on weights and do fewer reps. Heavier weights lead to bigger muscles.
- Compound Exercises
Compound movements target different parts of the muscles that may have been neglected in isolated movements. This means that instead of the usual bicep curls, add a twist to it that also targets the chest muscles.
Compound movements mimic how our muscles perform in everyday activities and produce functional strength.
- Check Out the New Equipment
There may be so much more than your gym has to offer rather than the usual equipment. If you’re getting tired of the conventional exercise machines and not seeing results, why not try a new set of routines?
You could even build your strength outside the gym by using materials such as large tires, sandbags, thick ropes, and even monkey bars. Don’t get too attached to your usual gym equipment; be adventurous!
- Workout with a Friend
Some people prefer to workout alone because they believe that they can concentrate more. Working out with a friend has its perks, too.
Get competitive and beat the time together. A friend could also spot some mistakes you may not be aware of.
Encouraging each other is the best motivation. At the end of the day, you’ll have someone to discuss your goals and achievements with.
- Eat Right
The average male requires 0.36 grams of protein per bodyweight in a day. Exercise requires a double dosage while weight lifting needs triple dosage.
Make sure you consult a nutritionist to check if you’re getting the right amount of protein for your body needs. Your food should fuel your body not hinder it from performing.
- Varying Grips and Angles
Consult a personal trainer and ask for tips on how to vary your exercises. Changing the grips and angles of how you do the exercises not only beats boredom but targets other muscles that are being neglected.
Performing various tweaks on how you normally perform exercises or handle the equipment targets other muscles. This helps rest the focal muscles and shifts it to the other areas that had been neglected.
- Set a New Record Everyday
Setting a new personal record every day lets you compete with yourself. What’s more rewarding than achieving a new milestone!
- Start Something New
Something new could mean new exercises, trying out new equipment, or even new records. Don’t let yourself be complacent by sticking to your monotonous routine.
- Changing the Rhythm
Instead of having 5-second intervals when lifting, increase the tempo. As an alternative, why not hold that lift and feel the strain on your muscles.
Slow movements make the muscles bigger while fast movements tone them. As mentioned previously, you can also add more weight while lifting slower than usual. You could also shorten the breaks in between your sets.
- Change Your Routine
Changing your routine means targeting different muscle groups per session. You may want to create a chart to guide you through this.
For example, Mondays are to target arms, shoulders, and the upper body. Wednesdays are for legs and the lower body. Fridays are for full body workout. Not only do you avoid reaching a plateau but it helps you focus on the targeted muscles without overworking them.
Set Variations to Avoid Weight Lifting Plateaus
Simply varying your usual routine and how you perform the exercises have a big effect on your weight lifting. Having variety also helps you avoid reaching that plateau. Here are some recommendations on how you can vary your sets and get maximum results:
- Strip Sets or Drop Sets
Strip sets are great for cardio, improves strength, and builds more muscle mass. Strip sets involve reducing the weight and having no rests in between. In this way, you get your muscles to perform at a maximum but without added stress.
Try doing this on your weakest muscles to get the best benefit. How to do this? For example, you want to complete 25 reps. Start with the heaviest weight that you use, say 250 pounds and perform 12 sets.
Then, reduce the weights to 200 pounds and perform 7 reps. Now, the last set should be done with a lighter weight that you can handle to finish off the set.
The goal is to complete the 25 reps without resting, but instead by lowering the weights to avoid too much muscle strain.
- Rest and Pause Sets
This set just means that you get to take a 5-second rest in between completing the reps. However, the deal is to perform as many reps as you can after each rest.
For example, if you can continuously do a 15-count rep with a 200-pound weight, rest 5 seconds then continue the reps and do as much as you can.
If your initial goal was to complete the 25 reps, this time you may complete up to 30. So, if it takes you 2 to 3 rests but you can do 12, 10 and 8 reps in between each rest then you have completed more reps.
Performing supersets means doing two sets of exercises without resting. The exercises can be for different muscle groups or opposite muscle groups. Performing supersets are great for building muscles, getting ripped and cardiovascular improvement.
- Giant Sets
Giant sets are an improvement to supersets, but this time for similar muscle groups. For example, you may do three sets of chest exercises without resting. Giant sets improve cardiovascular functions and endurance.
Benefits of Varying your Weightlifting Routine
Varying routine not only helps avoid reaching a weight lifting plateau but has health benefits as well.
- Beware of dangerous supplements
Most bodybuilders result to protein supplements and even steroids when they don’t see any results. They may not be aware that they have reached a weight lifting plateau and just need a change in routine.
Steroids and even some shady supplements have side effects that may not be good for the health, and it is not good to be dependent on them. However you are good to go with all-natural, safe and highly effective cutting and bulking supplements.
- Adds the fun back
When you’re stuck in a monotonous routine, you lose the enjoyment. When you lose the enjoyment, you lose the motivation. Once you lose motivation, chances are you’ll stop altogether.
- Avoids overwork and stress
One common effect of stress is insomnia. When you aren’t getting enough sleep, your muscles don’t regenerate properly. No matter how long you workout, you won’t see any developments because your muscles have already reached the limits and are not improving.
Now that you have learned about the different tips on how you can break through weight lifting plateaus, here are some exercise tips you can perform
Performing deadlifts targets the hamstrings, glutes, and lower back. The goal is to lift a heavy bar with weights using your feet and heels. Avoid squatting and rounding your back. As you pull the bar, focus on the force with your legs and feet and feel the strain through your hamstrings and glutes.
- Front Squats
The goal of front squats is to build up the thigh muscles’ strength. As weightlifters get more advanced they vary the grip to target proper wrist extension. To get the maximum performance, try to squat as low as you can for every 5 reps.
- Overhead Squats
Overhead squats are a great test of flexibility and strength. This exercise is for more advanced weightlifters and should be performed with a spotter. It is a bit dangerous to lift heavy weights over your head if it is your first time to perform them.
- Dumbbell Swings
This exercise targets the lower back, glutes, and hamstrings. The combination of swinging the weights and squatting provides a maximum effect to the targeted areas.
This exercise can also be used as a warm-up or as a strength-endurance training Being diligent in following your routine is a good practice.
However, if you feel like you are not getting the results that you expect, maybe it’s time to change your methods. The recommended exercises above will give you an idea of how you can add variety to your routine.
All bodybuilders reach a plateau at least once in their life. When this happens to you, don’t worry because you’re not alone. All people have different rates of metabolism and in building muscle mass; it depends on a lot of bodily factors.
To quote Bruce Lee, “If you always put limits on everything you do, physical or anything else, it will spread into your work and your life. There are no limits. There are only plateaus, and you must not stay there. You must go beyond them.”
What do you think of the above tips? If you have weight lifting breakthroughs or other tips, please feel free to share them with us. Read our advice and recommendation for proven supplements to break plateau and get you up to results.