Weight Training Plateau – 5 Tips to Push You Through
At some point everyone will get stuck with their workouts and stop seeing results in the mirror. This is the dreaded weight training plateau stage and this article will point out 5 of the most effective ways to break the plateau and push you through to the next level of gaining more muscle.
If you’re female or a male who doesn’t want to get bulky hopefully other articles on this site have shown you that it takes muscle to burn fat (& take this to the next level with my article Lose Fat Not Muscle), and the more muscle you have the higher your resting metabolic rate will be. This means you will be burning more calories at rest if you have more muscle.
There are more many more benefits of having a little more muscle such as protection of your joints and muscles and you can always cut back by adding more cardio.
Before we jump into this it should be noted that you should have been working out continuously for at least 6-8 weeks before determining that you are in a plateau stage. This is the amount of time it takes for you body to become unresponsive to your regular routine. One thing you may want to also try at this stage is to supplement with a pre-workout energy booster which will really catapult you to training at a more intense level – try one of these: Muscle Pharm Assault or SuperPump 250.
If you haven’t then you know what to do…go to the workouts and trainig section of this website and pick a workout that you feel is right for you (you may want to pick from the ultra popular Men’s Workout Routines or Women’s Workout Routines).
Variation in Weight Training Routine
The first and most important to take into consideration is that you need to change your workout routine about every 6 weeks. Many people get comfortable with doing the same workout week after week but our bodies have an incredible ability to adapt and this is when you stop seeing results. To keep things interesting you may even want to add this quick and easy tip on a weekly basis….
For one week try focusing on going heavy with lower repetitions in the 6-8 range. The following week focus on lighter weights but with more reps in the 12-14 range. Then cycle this to always keep your muscles guessing. Of course you can stick to heavy for 3 weeks if you first want to add muscle and then round off with 3 weeks at at the higher reps stage to add muscle definition.
Variation in Training Methodology
What the heck to do I mean by training methodology? It can actually mean a number of different techniques that will really shock your body out of a plateau. The one I like most is to hire a personal trainer for a few weeks and get him/her to really push you while keeping your focus on your form. In reality this could be far more effective than any pill on the market!
Similarly you can find a training buddy and have that person spot you with some more advanced or challenging exercises like the barbell squat or decline chest press. Just having this person with you will usually give you an adrenaline rush that will keep you extra pumped. Remember to keep the small talk short and your rest periods between exercises to less than a minute.
Lastly with training methodology you can try adding supsets, doing weeks where you focus on specific body parts or even forgetting weights and doing challenging body-weight-only exercises.
Variation in Cardio Training
There are a lot of different times you can enter your cardio routine. You can add it after your weight training routine, you can do it in between weight training days or you can do it in the evenings if you are weight training in the morning.
Remember High Intensity Interval Training? This is a great way to break you through a plateau as well since it challenges every single muscle fiber in your body including your core if you focus on proper form and hitting your max heart rate. Read the full article on High Intensity Interval Training.
Lastly with this you can switch running on the treadmill with doing a spin class, kickboxing class or playing a sport outside with your friends or on a team. Another great variation for the home is trying a workout DVD like the most intense one ever created by the name of Insanity Workout.
Variation in Nutrition
Nutrition is the other half of your training plan and your body also can adapt to what you eat. Be creative with your eating…try days where you do some healthy carb loading (i.e. with whole grain products) and other days where you have a little more protein than usual (whey protein smoothies are great for this and most would agree the best tasting protein in the market is either Gaspari Nutrition Myofusion or Optimum Platinum Hydrowhey).
If you aren’t eating early in the morning when you wake up try this for a while and skip your late night snack. You can also switch this up, but it’s always best to eat even something small in the morning after your 8 hour fast (i.e. sleep!). If you are finding it hard to get up and running in the morning then you may want to try supplement with a thermogenic booster like USPlabs OxyELITE Pro or Muscle Pharm Shred Matrix.
Other ideas can include trying a vegetarian or even vegan day or two, or switching up your source of protein or carbohydrate intake (for example if you drink soy milk, switch it up with eating rice milk, or if you eat chicken switch to fish). Be aware of how your body responds and what it likes and doesn’t like so you can reference this in the future.
Variation in Rest and Relaxation
Once you understand the benefits of working out and eating healthy it’s also easy to get a bit carried away especially if you are at a desk job like most of us. Try adding rest days or taking them on different days. For instance, if you are always taking rest days on the weekend try to change this and have your rest day on Monday.
Recently I wrote two very popular articles on Health Benefits of Yoga & Health Benefits of Yoga Part 2 and having this variation for your rest and relaxation day in your pocket is a great way to completely revolutionize the results you get from your workouts.
Flexibility training and stretching after your workouts is also key to preventing plateaus because they allow your muscles to get proper blood flow going again and recover quicker as a result. My favorite is to also having a massage therapy session at least once a month…it’s incredible how this will make you find areas that you hold tension that you didn’t realize.
Weight Training Plateau Conclusion
Variation, Variation, Variation! Whatever you do, make sure to add some form of variation at least one of these points every 6 weeks and you’ll notice that you can break out of a weight training plateau. Take a break and try different forms of rest and relaxation and if you have been training for 6 months non-stop take a week off from the gym. When you come back you’ll have 110% more energy then before and this is when you really go to the next level. After training for 17 years I’m still trying and testing different variations, adding sports I’ve never done before and just having fun with it all.
I’d love to hear your stories on how you add variation to your weight training and workout routines. Please leave a comment below…