Almost everyone hits a plateau in their exercise and training program at one point or another.
You’re cruising along for a while, gaining strength, losing fat, looking better, and then all of the sudden it hits. Suddenly, you find yourself even weaker than before on your lifts, or you find that you’ve gained back a couple of pounds, and you’re just not making progress.
It happens to everyone. Most of the time, these plateaus occur because people rarely change their training variables over time. Many people stick to the same types of exercises for the same basic sets and reps and rest periods.
The easiest way to break through a plateau is to simply change things up a bit.
There are many ways that you can strategically modify your training program to continue to maximize your muscle building and fat burning efforts.
Most people only think about changing their sets and reps performed, if they even think about changing their routine at all.
However there are several other workout routine variables that can dramatically affect your results. Some of these include:
- changing the order of exercises (sequence)
- exercise grouping (super-setting, circuit training, tri-sets, etc.)
- exercise type (multi-joint or single joint, free-weight or machine based)
- the number of exercises, amount of resistance, time under tension, etc.
- the volume of work (sets x reps x distance moved)
- rest periods between sets, repetition speed, the range of motion
- exercise angle (inclined, flat, declined, bent over, upright, etc)
The list can go on an on.
There’s a lot of different variables you can adjust to break through a plateau.
Based on a typical workout routine that consists of something similar to 3 sets of 8-12 reps with one to three minutes rest between sets (BORING!)…
Here are 10 workout tweaks you can make to start seeing workout gains again.
1. Try doing 10 sets of 3, with only 20 seconds rest between sets.
2. Try using a moderately heavy weight and complete 6 sets of 6 reps, doing a 3-minute treadmill sprint between each weight lifting set.
3. Try using a near maximum weight and do 10 sets of 1 rep, with 30 seconds rest between sets.
4. Try using a much lighter than normal weight and do 1 set of 50 reps for each exercise.
5. Try a workout based on only one full body exercise, such as barbell clean & presses or dumbbell squat & presses, and do nothing but that exercise for an intense 20 minutes. With this example, you could try sets of 5 reps at a moderately heavy weight every 2 minutes until you reach 20 minutes.
6. Try a workout based on all bodyweight exercises such as pushups, pull-ups, chin-ups, dips, bodyweight squats, lunges, step-ups, etc.
7. Try a circuit of 12 different exercises covering the entire body without any rest between exercises.
8. Try that same 12 exercise circuit on your subsequent workout, but do the entire circuit in the reverse order.
9. Try your usual exercises at a faster repetition speed on one workout and then at a super-slow speed on your next workout.
10. Try doing drop sets of all of your exercises, where you drop the weight between each set and keep doing repetitions without any rest until complete muscular fatigue (usually about 5-6 sets in a row).
There are many more ways to continue to change your training variables.
I hope this article gave you some ideas on methods for you to take your muscle building and fat burning efforts to the next level.
Keep in mind that no matter what style of training you are using at any given time, progression on subsequent workouts should be your goal. Work hard and train smart and watch your body change!