5 Techniques To Break Through A training Plateau
Have you ever been stuck on a particular lift / exercise for months and it doesn’t matter how much you try, you just can’t increase the weight? Or do you have a particular muscle that seems to give you the middle finger every time you attempt to drive some growth toward it?
Encountering some sort of plateau is inevitable, the body adapts to your current training schedule and progress comes to a grinding halt… we have all been there.
What I want to do is equip you with the knowledge and skills required to break through these stubborn cycles and come out the other end with a stronger, bigger and fitter physique.
Below are just a few techniques that you can use in your own training to break through a plateau or even to just increase the intensity of your current training routine.
1, Slowing Down the Movement
I believe this is one of the most under used methods of overloading the body to break plateaus and force new growth. Slowing down the movement allows you to really connect with the muscle, increases the TUT (Time Under Tension) on the muscle and also reduces the chance of injury by eliminating jerky, uncontrolled movement.
Am I saying this is the only way you should train? Definitely not! Any good program has a variety of rep tempos, however in my experience adding a workout in every now and then that focuses on slowing everything down can create some huge changes in your strength and muscle building capabilities.
So… next time you perform the bench press or a similar movement try lower the bar for 5 seconds, pause for 1 second on the chest, push the bar up for 4 seconds and take no pause at the top before you do the next rep. Feel the difference! This can be applied to so many different exercises so get in the gym and try it out for yourself.
Supersets are a very popular technique that I personally feel can be used every single workout, this is because it allows you to really maximise your time in the gym through getting more work done in less time. There are also many different types of supersets however I can cover that in a separate article as there is a fair bit to get through.
A Superset is basically when you perform a full set of one particular exercise followed by a set of a different exercise with minimal/no rest in between. This can be done with the same muscle group or totally different muscles. I find if you perform a big compound movement (for example a Dumbbell Chest Press) and super set that with a smaller isolation exercise for the same muscle (for example a High Pulley Cable Flye) it can really take your workout intensity to a new level.
3, Eccentric Training
Eccentric training is when we focus on slowing down the eccentric potion of a movement, this method of training has been proven to help with strength, muscle building, power development, and much more.
The eccentric contraction is when the muscle lengthens under load, for example when a person lowers the weight down in a squat. The reason why this training method has been deemed so effective is largely due to its ability to create greater levels of tension which in turn increases the stimulus to muscle fibres.
Putting this into practice, next time you’re at the gym add a 5-10 second eccentric to one of your exercises and see how different it feels. Just be aware you won’t be able to go as heavy as you usually do.
Negatives are similar to “Eccentric Training” however this protocol requires the use of a training partner or spotter and focuses more on eccentric overload rather than eccentric volume.
The difference between eccentric overload and eccentric volume is overload uses a heavier load than usual for standard rep tempo, eccentric volume on the other hand focuses on increasing the amount of time you spend in the eccentric portion of the movement.
To perform negatives correctly you want a spotter to push down on the bar as you lower the weight through the eccentric contraction, when you reach the bottom the spotter will let go and allow you to push through the concentric with only the resistance you have on the bar.
This method works so well because you are 20-30% stronger through the eccentric contraction. With this in mind, applying pressure / more weight through the eccentric allows for greater fast twitch motor unit recruitment resulting in faster muscle growth.
Pre-Exhaustion is an effective way to spark new progress in your training, this particular technique is executed through performing an isolation exercise before a compound movement of the same muscle group with limited to no rest in between. An example would be to perform leg extensions before squats.
The idea behind this technique is the isolation exercise (i.e Leg Extensions) fatigues the targeted muscle (Quads) making them work even harder in the compound movement (Squat). This technique isn’t recommended for people wanting to increase strength however is perfect for busting through muscle growth plateau’s.
There are many different ways of breaking your body through a plateau and the above techniques are only a snippet of the strategies you can use. Remember these techniques are not the type of thing you use every single workout, they are designed to create intensity and a higher levels of metabolic fatigue in an attempt to shock the body towards change.
I hope you can use some of these techniques in your own training like I have to push your body that much closer to towards your goals.
If you are interested in stepping up your training and / or nutrition feel free to contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org to discuss how I can help. You can also take a look at the programing options I have available on here too.