Anyone that has been lifting weights for at least a year will undoubtedly have experienced the dreaded PLATEAU!
You know what I mean…..
You lift and lift, week on week, and can’t seem to get even 1 more rep at a certain weight. Is all hope lost?
The answer given to this dilemma is usually something along the lines of…
CHANGE YOUR ROUTINE!
But there is much more to it, and there are some reasons that most people simply overlook (or don’t want to admit).
Here are my thoughts on the REAL reasons you plateau and how to ensure that you never do again…
(1) You Aren’t Using Optimized Form. Sure, being all rigid is what your personal trainer will tell you to do and you’ll progress for a while. BUT sooner or later the fact that you aren’t using supporting muscles on movements like barbell curls, will result in a big stinky plateau. Loosen up my friends, it’s what the body wants!
(2) You Are lifting A Weight You Were Never Ready For! When you are ready to increase weight on an exercise, do it in small increments. Large load increases always end in tears.
Instead of moving up gradually week on week, you load on another 5 kilos onto your bench press, or 2.5 kilos onto your dumbbell bicep curls. In 20 weeks you are STILL lifting the same weight and wondering why.
It’s no mystery, just lighten the weight. You may think this is a regression, but it is a PROgression as you can now start moving forward and building some lean muscle.
(3) You Ignore Certain Body Parts. For example, some guy wants big arms and a big chest but completely ignores his back and shoulders. You’ll know by now that these muscle groups assist in working the arms and chest; leaving them undeveloped will inevitably impede progress on the muscle groups you want to develop.
A familiar saying comes to mind here, “A chain is only as strong as its weakest link”. Us ‘Optimized formers‘ recognize this and allow body parts to work in harmony with each other as is perfectly natural.
Devote some time each weak to ALL your body parts.
(4) Your Diet Sucks! It’s very simple; you can bust your ass in the gym, but if you’re not eating enough to meet your body’s needs for growth, you won’t grow or get stronger. Result: PLATEAU!
(5) Your Workouts last Too Long! Short workouts with low set volume work best for the natural guy, just ask Jeff Willet!
(6) You Don’t Rest For Long Enough Between Sets. Optimal recuperation is at around 2-3 minutes between sets. Any less and you severely reduce your strength on successive sets. Read ‘Total Anabolism 2.0‘ for more on this.
(7) You Don’t Rest Enough Between Body Parts. Give each body part a week between intense workouts. Be aware that in THT each muscle gets both 1 direct workout per week, BUT ALSO 2 or more indirect, and less intense, workouts by becoming the supporting muscles for some other body part. Read ‘Total Anabolism 2.0‘ for more on this.
(8) Change Your Routine! Now to the conventional wisdom. THT training does encourage you to change:
- the actual exercises used e.g. replacing barbell curls for EZ bar curls
- the order of exercises performed
- using a lower rep range for a couple of weeks
but THT does not recommend some of the other gimmicks like:
- shorter rest periods
- quick drop sets
- half reps
- forced reps
Stick to the basics.
Apply ALL the tips in this article and you shouldn’t be reaching a plateau in the first place!
Train Intelligently My Friends!
image credit: marcelgermain
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