Let’s face it. The reason we lift weights is to gain muscle. That’s it. That’s the reason. We want to gain muscle so we can be stronger, look better, and be able to carry out our daily activities quickly, easily, with confidence.
The problem is, after we have been lifting for a while, we seem to hit a roadblock in gains. We keep working out, but we don’t seem to be able to lift more weight or out on more muscle mass.
Well, I’m here to help!
Today we will discuss a few methods to break through that Plateau. All the methods listed below will work. Have a read and then hit the weights!
Let’s get started!
Higher Load, Same Reps or More Reps, Same Load
Both of these methods will assist in breaking the plateau you are on. My suggestion is to start by banging out a few more reps with the same weight for a few days, remembering to work to close to fatigue of the muscle on each set. This will give you the confidence to increase the weight a little. Remember, you don’t have to increase the weight a lot.
Think about it. If you can use these methods to increase your bench press by five pounds every two weeks, by the end of the year you will have increased your bench press by 130 pounds! That is huge!
So, the next time you are on the bench, do a couple more reps with the same weight; then the next time you are on the bench after that, increase the weight by five pounds and go back to the reps you were doing. Then the next time, add a few reps; then a few pounds, etc.
Before you know it, you will be benching more than you could have imagined.
This method will work for any muscle group. Give it a try.
Same Reps, Longer Range Of Motion
This is an important method to practice with all exercises. You want to be sure you are allowing the muscle you are working to travel through its entire range of motion. So many times I see guys who are curling more weight than they should, not extend their arms all the way to the bottom, not allowing the bar to touch their legs. They stop part way down. This shortening of the range of motion (ROM) will shorten the muscle, causing difficulty down the road with other exercises.
Do some research, and know the range of motion of each exercise and choose a weight that allows you to move the weight through the entire ROM. Once you can comfortably do the required sets and reps with a full ROM, increase the weight and keep training.
Following this procedure will allow you to follow the above idea, since you will have trained the muscle properly throughout its entire range.
Increase Total Sets
A simple way to help break through the barrier of gains is to simply increase the number of sets you are doing. Sounds simple, and it is. If you are doing three sets, increase to four for a couple weeks. Then increase the weight and go back to three sets. Do this for a couple weeks, increase the sets, then increase the weights and decrease the sets, and continue this process.
The most important thing to remember in any of these methods is record keeping. You must be keeping track of exactly how much weight you are lifting. Keep track of the weight you are lifting, the number of sets, and the number of reps.
This will allow you to track the volume of weight (total pounds) you are lifting. This is an important number, as it indicates true gains over the entire muscle groups of the body.
If you are gaining in one area, but losing in another due to muscle soreness, injury, or lack of range of motion, then you are not truly making gains. Keeping a record of all your lifts will allow you to ensure you are making real, overall gains
Same Reps, Short Rest or Same Reps, Slow Tempo
Either of these, short rest or slow tempo, will allow you to improve the muscles’ ability to lift weight, break down, and therefore grow.
That is, after all, how a muscle grows. We work it to nearly its limit, breaking the tissue down. By then giving the muscles’ the proper nutrition and time, they will rebuild and be bigger and stronger.
It makes sense then, that if we give the muscle less time between sets to recover, we will be breaking the tissue down at a faster rate, therefore allowing it to grow faster while it recovers.
The same can be said for slowing the tempo of our movements. This will keep the muscle under tension for a longer period of time, breaking the tissue down at a faster rate.
Please keep in mind that any of these methods will cause muscle soreness to a greater degree than you have felt before. You must be maintaining good form at all times. If you are putting your muscles’ under greater strain, there is a greater chance of injury. Always be sure to only choose a weight which allows you to complete the full ROM with the proper form for the entire set. If you injure yourself, it could be weeks or months before you get back to the gym and than all the gains you had made will have been for naught.
Also, remember you won’t overload the muscle to the proper degree if you use momentum when lifting weight. It is important to be in control of the weight through the motion. Control the weight in both abduction and flexion (up and down, in and out). You must let the muscle do the work if you want to train them beyond their present capability.
Dynamic Volume Training
The following is a quote from a bodybuilding.com article on DVT and its origins. It explains the idea more precisely than I ever could. For the full article, head to Bodybuilding.com and check out the Training section for an article on DVT.
“Regarding resistance training, remember, a program that is “canned” is a good starting point, but for each individual, as they start developing and working out more and more and advancing, undergoing a dynamic individualized process is required for best results.
Resistance training is indeed a dynamic approach, as they need to change things based on how their body is responding and developing to the resistance-training regimen.
So the first thing that the model looked at was some of the common characteristics of all resistance training regimens. This gets down into what I call the intensity, duration and frequency variables, as they relate to the body’s response, or adaptive abilities.
There are several dimensions to intensity, but for the purposes of this overview the one I will focus on is the workload, that is, how much resistance a person is using, the weight they are lifting.
When it comes to the human body we need to focus on the function of the different muscle fibres – the type 1, or slow twitch, versus the group of type 2, called the fast twitch.
Depending upon the intensity of the workload, stimulation of the muscle fibre development will take place in a certain way.
Duration & Frequency:
Then the next variable is the duration. How long do you train your bicep or chest within a particular workout? Then the frequency – how often do you do this?”
As you can see, the DVT method is a training method that you would avail yourself to after you have been working out for a while, and if you are not making the gains you would like to make. It is best employed under the supervision of a coach, or by following a specific program.
Just before I finish, let me remind you that the older you get, the more caution you need to take when working out. If you are over 50, like I am, then you will need to ease your way into resistance training with caution and light weights to avoid injury.
Remember, we need to work smarter, not harder!
So there you have it!
There are a variety of ways to bust though that plateau you have reached in your training.
Again, my suggestion is to keep a log of your weight lifting activities, and if you seem to have stalled in your growth, try one or more of these methods to get back on the gain train!
If you need some help, drop me a line, and I’ll give you my humble advice.
Thanks for listening. If you have any questions or comments, please leave them below.
See you in the next post.
Have a great day!