If you’ve been boosting for any period of time, you probably have reached this obstacle: going every day to the gym, all prepared, taking your pre-workout drink and attitude, all ready to push more weight than the last time.
Then you play your favorite playlist, load the plates and try to think that those weights are not so heavy as they seem to be. But you hit the set and it quickly overwhelms you. Everything seems too heavy and you end up doing exactly you have done last time or even worse, less the last workout.
What happens to you? And what can you improve to finally reach that expected progress? Let’s find out below.
The Science of Weightlifting Progress
If we think about the human body, it is amazingly good at adapting to stimuli. This means that despite we are mentioning the metabolism or the muscle mass, the goal of our organism is to maintain a normalized state. This principle is called homeostasis.
This principle is great to survival, but not so exceptional for building muscle and power. As time goes on, the body gets better and better at adjusting to training, and this is why many people happen into a routine: they simply don’t use enough force to progress.
This means that once the newbie gains are right behind, you need to work really really hard to force the muscles to grow larger and stronger.
This process is called in physiologically super-compensation. This is the process when your body augments the already existing muscle fibers, tendons, and ligaments to become larger and also much stronger.
As you may know, the main factor that is pushing super-compensation is a continuous overload—lifting more power for a given rep progression over time.
This is the reason why a plateau in size will always come with a plateau in strength. Some people who look the same time after time are lifting more or less the same weight month after month as well.
This is why everybody wants to really avoid plateaus by any means. So if each week looks the same, with the same exercises and really the same duplicates with exact weights, you probably will be able to keep the present performance levels and physique mood, but probably you won’t make any progress. And it is such a pity.
But think that plateaus are part of the game, and a properly designed program and dietary regimen will help you go forward these times. Think plateaus happen to everyone, so it’s ok. Don’t get mad when it happens to you. Here are some strategies to help you go through these sticking points, so you will never fall into the real hollow.
But first things first, before any strategy to overcome plateaus, let’s see what are actually these events in the gym live.
What is a Weightlifting Plateau and what is not
When people tell you that they are trapped on a program and they don’t evolve, the first thing you want to know is what they mean exactly.
Usually, it turns out they are performing growth; they just aren’t earning the type of improvement they want to see: they aren’t scoring weight as they previously were, or they aren’t advancing on all exercises they make in each workout, or aren’t living up to some other basis.
I then translate what I want to reveal to you here, which has to do with expectations and benchmarks.
Only if you are all new to the weightlifting you will be able to add every week a new weight bar and maintain the proper form and rep series. Instead, the weekly purpose for each practice should be at least one of your lifts by 1 or 2 reps, and it will normally be your first exercise.
For instance, if you deadlifted 455 pounds last week for 2 reps, your goal is to get 3 to 4 reps this week (and you presumably won’t get 4). If you do that and the rest of your workout is exactly the same as last week’s (same weight and reps for each succeeding, that’s a successful discipline.
It that might sound strange to you, but just growing 1 or 2 reps on one exercise is enough to provoke-compensation, and you should be fortunate.
Based on my experience with my own training, but also with other thousands of people, the body is ready to progress, but you will mostly see an increase in more than just one exercise of the common exercise.
But sometimes it’s just that first big mixture lift that changes, and the rest stays the same. Other times it’s the first set or two of the second exercise. Less frequently, that could come in one of your Sarcoplasmic Sets. Notwithstanding your improve, any advancement means you’re not stuck in a plateau.
If you want to know about the real plateau situation, well, it happens when every lift in a workout is stuck at a certain weight for a specific number of reps for at least 3 weeks. If that really happens to you, it’s time for applying one or more of the strategies below.
Could It Be Linked to Procedure or Movement?
Incorrect form can kill development, particularly on the big, important lifts like the Squat, Deadlift, and Bench Press. If your organization or execution is off, you will plateau at some period, and if you try to power through it, you may get injured.
If it happens to get stuck (and from time to time even when things are going well), I like to have someone record me while I’m doing each exercise so I can correct my scheme. I’ll download the videos on my computer and play them up big so I can see what’s going on. And more than once I’ve learned something clearly incorrect in my form that, when fixed, let me to progress again.
For instance, some months ago, I found I led to lean too far forward in my squats. Especially when the weight got heavy, which was placing too much pressure hip flexors. This was preventing me from pushing up some more weight.
In order to correct this, I backed down on the weight to give my hip flexors a pause and work on my frame. Within a month or so, I was rapidly moving up again, this time with decent form and no hip flexor hurts.
Sometimes changing the technique is tricky, though. And it almost always is due to how you manage the mobility.
You see, impaired upper and lower-body mobility can seriously hazard all you have worked before. People simply can’t do some certain exercises in a good way because their body can’t do the moves.
If you try doing in a very correct way some mobility exercises, you will be enough the handle most of your problems.
If you don’t sleep enough, your body just won’t be able to work at its best. And when you’re charging a lot from it in the gym, getting sufficient rest every night is very important for both recovery and enforcement.
People already have known this for some time, but research came back with this statement. One study limited the rest of eight males aged 18 to 24 to three hours per night for three consecutive nights and discovered that their strength on the Bench Press, Leg Press, and Deadlift was significantly settled and the workouts were much more fatiguing than usual.
While that’s a rather extreme case of sleep loss, another study has shown that moderate amounts of sleep limitation also compromise the body’s ability to recover from training.
Studies have also shown that increasing sleep to a minimum of 10 hours in bed each night improves physical performance (people felt better psychologically, ran faster, shot basketballs more perfectly, and were able to train longer before feeling fatigued).
Although it doesn’t mean we should all sleep 10 hours or more each night.
Actually, studies have shown that a very small portion of people actually have to sleep much more. But we should permit our body as much sleep as it needs, and according to the National Sleep Foundation, adults need 7 to 9 hours of sleep per night. This way, they will avoid the negative effects of sleep deprivation. A small section of people do fine with less, and a small corner needs more.
Eugenics and age effect have shown how much sleep your body needs. If you don’t know how to determine this, take a simple way to determine what’s better for you. Pick a two-week period such as a holiday and go to bed at the same time each night without an alarm set.
Chances are, in the end, to sleep much longer than usual at first and have “sleep deficit” to cancel out. Moving the end of the second week, your body will settle a pattern of sleeping about the same number of hours every night. And it’s trying to tell you something: that’s precisely how much sleep it takes. Hold to that, and you’ll never fight the consequences of sleep deprivation.
Are You Really Overtrained?
Overtraining can be deceptive, especially in its opening moments, when its manifestations are soft and hard to understand.
When you overtrain, the first things to falter will be your power and muscle resistance. Your workouts just start feeling tough, no matter what you do. This is nothing more than an intensification of central nervous system fatigue, and it’s easy to work.
Still, if you come back from your holiday or and remain grounded, it’s probably not an overtraining effect unless you’ve seriously overcome your body over the course of the last 6 to 12 months.
Give Your Workouts Everything You’ve Got
Squatting, deadlifting, and pressing hundreds of pounds over and over isn’t for the inactive or weak-willed.
Sometimes people fall into a routine just because they don’t hit their exercises with all they have. Their thoughts are elsewhere, and they’re just performing within the movements.
Sometimes external agents are working against us. So, practice when you feel the strongest and most dynamic. Be tolerant with damages and make sure they’re completely recovered before you go full bore again.
There are usually hidden barriers to defeat as well. Sometimes we psych ourselves out when attempting to hit heavier weights. Sometimes we’re too demanding of ourselves, and sometimes we’re simply in a bad temper or don’t desire to be in the gym.
These difficulties can be easily swept aside as well. Get ready to give it everything you have. Imagine yourself hitting the lift flawlessly. You don’t have to stomp throughout the gym like a furious beast, but don’t bother if you don’t. You’re there to get outcomes, not to impress others with your attitude.
When you’re in the gym, let yourself the indulgence of briefly letting go of whatever other difficulties you’re dealing with in life. Keep your mind on the tissues trained, the next rep, and the next set. Consider it your meditation time.
Using Diet to Break the Weightlifting Plateaus
In many circumstances, a plateau in weight, size, and strength is generated by nothing more than not feeding sufficiently. And for some people, “sufficiently” is quite a lot.
As you get larger and powerful, the quantity of food that you’ll have to consume to keep getting bigger and stronger will probably go up. Just as you gradually decrease calorie consumption when cutting, you usually need to gently boost calorie consumption while attempting to maximize muscle growth.
So increasing calorie consumption is a simple method to get both the weight and strength, up. All you have to do is boost your daily consumption by about 100 calories and reassess after several weeks.
If that unsticks you, then hold your calories there for the following few weeks and notice how your body reacts. If you’re growing again, proceed until you’re not, and then increase intake again.
Do Less Cardio
Cardio can both hurt and help muscle growth. It aids by enhancing insulin sensitivity which develops your body’s capacity to use nutrients to build muscle.
But, it can get in the process of muscle growth in various ways.
First, it burns calories that you will want to substitute if you are to keep a small energy excess. Second, it puts supplementary stress on the body, which can contribute to overtraining.
This is why studies have shown that the more cardio you do, and the more extreme that cardio is, the more your strength and growth will be negatively influenced.
If you hit a plateau, don’t be hesitant to cut cardio completely for a few weeks while you unstick yourself. You can then add it back in once you’re moving again.
Stretch Your Rep Range or Increase the Weight in Smaller Increments
Sometimes you’ll hit the top of a given rep range, enhance the weight the standard amount and fail to hit the bottom of the range on the next set.
You have two choices when this occurs: you can train with the original weight till you can do a few of extra reps over the top of the rep range, or you can raise the weight in smaller increments using smaller plates. Both work well, and it’s a thing of personal choice.
Boost the Weight and See if It Holds
If you’re stuck one rep short of the top of a rep range you’re working in and you’re striving to hit it so you can move up, sometimes it’s deserving just providing it a shot.
You’ll get a rep or two less than you should on your following set, but you can provide your body an extra week or two with that new and heavier weight to comprehend if it will adjust.
If, after working out with this new weight for 2 to 3 weeks, you’re still stuck a rep or two short of the bottom of your rep range, then you should go back to the former weight and use the other tactics from this article.
Include Rest-Pause Exercise
Many methods have been scientifically demonstrated to be no more efficient than traditional set plans and rep rhythms.
There is one particular kind of training that has both anecdotal and scientific proof on its side, and that’s the Rest-Pause Set.
This is an old-fashioned powerlifting technique for breaking through plateaus. It was studied recently by researchers from the University of Western Sydney. They discovered it to be an efficient approach to enhance strength via greater muscle fiber recruitment.
The Rest-Pause Set is very simple. You perform an exercise to failure and then pause for a brief period before completing the exercise to failure again, supported by a short break, and another set to failure, and so on.
If you’ve hit a plateau or just have the desire to try this way of practice, adapt each of your sets into Rest-Pause Sets for one or two practices, and then go back to your usual exercise and observe whether that has unstuck you.
Once you’ve hit and cut through a few plateaus, you’ll receive a good feeling for what goes best for your body.
Other bodies are complex, and you’ll discover the best method to defeat plateaus through practice.