8 Proven Ways to Overcome Your Strength-Training Plateau
Mar 23, 2023 by Danielle Kelvas, MD
You’ve been lifting weights, working hard, and pushing through tough workouts. You’ve been seeing progress in your strength, but lately, it feels like you’ve hit a plateau.
Your gains have slowed down, and you’re not seeing the same improvements you used to. It can be frustrating to work hard but see no results.
So how do you break through the strength-training plateau and continue to make progress? It’s not always easy, but with the right tactics and strategy, you can push yourself to new levels of strength and fitness. Let’s explore some ways to crack through that plateau and get back to seeing results.
What is the Strength-Training Plateau?
A strength-training plateau refers to a period of time when your muscles are no longer growing and adapting to your current workout routine. This happens when you’ve been doing the same exercises for a while, without any variation or progression in weight or intensity. Scientists call this the compensatory adaptation mechanism that happens at the cellular level.
It can be frustrating to put in the effort but not see any improvement, and it can be discouraging enough to make you consider throwing in the towel. However, it’s important to note that the strength-training plateau is a normal part of the fitness journey that happens to everyone, and it can be overcome with some simple adjustments to your routine.
The first step is to recognize when you’ve hit a plateau and identify any patterns or habits that may be contributing to it.
Regularly Change Your Routine
One of the most effective ways to overcome this plateau is to shake up your routine.
This involves switching up your exercises, weights, and repetitions. By breaking the monotony of your workout, you can push your body to new limits and improve your overall fitness. With Speediance, we tailor work-outs for you to ensure that you have plenty of variety so that you never hit a plateau.
As an example, if you’ve been doing regular strength training for several weeks, be sure to add explosive and high-resistance interval training, like sprints. This improves exercise efficiency and your anaerobic threshold, which is the point when your muscles are really fatigued.
Another effective strategy that can help you break through the plateau is keeping a training log. This can help you track your progress, analyze your weak points, and make necessary adjustments to your routine. Luckily, programs like Speediance do all of this for you!
With careful record-keeping, you can identify patterns, recognize what works for you, and determine which areas require improvement.
Evaluate Your Goals and Strategy
To start, it's important to evaluate your goals and determine what you want to achieve from your workouts.
Are you looking to increase your overall muscle mass or target specific muscle groups to increase strength? Or perhaps you’re training for a marathon? Whatever the case may be, defining clear goals will help you stay focused and motivated. Once you've established your goals, it's time to develop a workout strategy that will help you make progress toward them.
This may involve changing up your routine, incorporating new exercises, or upping the intensity of your workouts. The key is to keep challenging your body in different ways so that it continues to adapt and improve.
Another important factor in achieving your strength-training goals is tracking your progress. This can be done in a few different ways – whether it's keeping a workout journal, tracking your weight and body measurements, or using technology to monitor your heart rate and other metrics. Speediance does all of this for you, and can even sync with your Apple watch!
Whatever method you choose, monitoring your progress will give you a sense of accomplishment and help you adjust your strategy as needed. In addition to evaluating your goals and strategy, it's important to also consider your nutrition and recovery.
Eating a balanced diet rich in protein and other essential nutrients will help fuel your workouts and aid in muscle recovery. Be sure to give your body adequate rest and recovery time between workouts to prevent burnout and injury.
Increase Intensity and Volume
When it comes to strength training, it's not uncommon to reach a point where you feel like you're just not making progress anymore. You're not getting stronger, you're not seeing gains in muscle size, and you're not feeling challenged by your workouts.
One of the most effective ways to do this is by increasing the intensity and volume of your workouts. Intensity refers to the amount of weight or resistance you're using during your workouts, while volume refers to the total amount of work you're doing, such as the number of sets and reps.
To increase the intensity, you can gradually add more weight to your exercises or use more challenging variations of exercises. For example, if you've been doing squats with a barbell, you could switch to using a kettlebell or dumbbell to challenge yourself and work different muscles.
To increase volume, you can add more sets or reps to your workouts, or increase the frequency of your training sessions. Increasing intensity and volume can be an effective way to break through a strength-training plateau, but it should be done gradually and safely. Speediance has a spotter feature that will help you max your weight without going too far.
Listen to your body and avoid overtraining, which can lead to injury or burnout.
Consulting with a certified personal trainer can also be helpful in developing a safe and effective workout plan that is tailored to your individual needs and goals. By staying committed and putting in the hard work, you can break through your plateau and achieve the results you desire.
Implement Variations and New Exercises
One of the most effective ways to break through a strength-training plateau and continue making progress toward your fitness goals is to implement variations and new exercises into your workout routine. One reason why this works is that your muscles can become accustomed to the same exercises and movements over time.
There are many different ways to implement variations and new exercises into your routine. One approach is to change up the grip or stance of existing exercises, such as switching from a narrow to a wide grip on a pull-up bar or using a staggered stance for lunges.
This can work different muscles and increase the difficulty of the exercise. Another approach is to add completely new exercises that target specific muscle groups. Try a new sport, spend a day in a new gym, or try exercising outdoors for a change.
If you typically focus on upper-body exercises, try incorporating more lower body exercises like squats, deadlifts, and lunges. This can help to balance out your routine and prevent muscle imbalances.
It’s important to note that when introducing new exercises, it’s best to start with lighter weights and focus on proper form to prevent injury. You can gradually increase the weight as your strength and technique improve. Using a mirror or having a spotter can help with this.
Incorporate Recovery and Rest
One common misconception about strength training is that the more frequently and intensely you train, the faster and greater your results will be. In reality, proper recovery and rest are crucial components of a successful and sustainable strength-training program.
If you suffer from delayed onset muscle soreness (DOMs), then you may need a few more days to recover.
One way to incorporate recovery into your routine is by taking dedicated rest days. These days should involve light activity, such as stretching, yoga, or a leisurely walk, to encourage blood flow and aid in recovery.
Another way to boost recovery is by prioritizing sleep. Aim for seven to nine hours of uninterrupted sleep each night to allow your body time to repair and rebuild muscle tissue. Smoking and alcohol not only truncate your sleep but hinder muscle recovery.
Nutrition is also key in overcoming the strength-training plateau. To optimize recovery, fuel your body with healthy whole foods that provide a balance of protein, carbohydrates, and healthy fats. Avoid processed and artificial food.
Aim to consume a post-workout snack or meal within 30 minutes of finishing your workout. Another helpful recovery tool is foam rolling, which can improve circulation and decrease muscle tightness and soreness.
Incorporating stretching or yoga into your routine can improve flexibility and mobility, allowing for greater gains in your strength-training workouts, while also protecting you from developing tendonitis. Finally, remember to listen to your body and adjust your training program as needed.
Overtraining or neglecting recovery can lead to injury and hinder progress. By incorporating rest, recovery, and proper nutrition into your strength-training routine, you can overcome plateaus and reach your fitness goals in a safe and sustainable way.
Monitor and Track Progress
Monitoring and tracking progress is one of the most important things you can do when it comes to overcoming a strength-training plateau and reaching your fitness goals. By keeping track of your progress, you can identify areas where you need to make improvements and adjust your training plan accordingly.
There are many different ways to monitor progress, including tracking your weight, body measurements, and strength gains. One popular method of tracking progress is to keep a workout journal. Or, you can let Speediance do all of the record keeping for you!
This can be as simple as jotting down the exercises you did, the weight you lifted, and the number of reps you completed. Over time, you can look back on your journal and see how your strength has improved from one workout to the next.
If you notice that you're not making progress, you can adjust your workout routine to focus on areas that need improvement. Another way to monitor progress is to use technology. Speediance tracks your workouts, monitors your progress, and provides personalized training plans.
In addition to tracking your progress, it's important to set realistic goals for yourself. This means identifying specific, measurable goals that you can work towards over time.
For example, if your goal is to increase your bench press max, you might set a goal to add 10 pounds to your current max within the next 2 months. By setting specific goals and monitoring your progress, you can stay motivated and focused on reaching your fitness goals.
Overall, monitoring and tracking progress is a critical component of overcoming a strength-training plateau and reaching your fitness goals. Whether you use a workout journal, a fitness app, or some other method, the key is to stay consistent and focused on your goals.
Seek Guidance from a Professional
If you have hit a plateau in your strength training, seeking guidance from a professional can be the solution you need to reach your fitness goals. A personal trainer can assess your current fitness level, identify areas for improvement, and create a tailored workout plan that challenges you and helps you progress.
A professional can also teach you proper technique and form, while providing accountability and motivation. A personal trainer can hold you accountable to your workout schedule and help you stay on track, especially on days when you’re feeling unmotivated or discouraged.
Furthermore, a professional trainer will help you set realistic fitness goals and track your progress along the way.
In conclusion, breaking through the strength-training plateau can be challenging, but it's not impossible. By incorporating various techniques like changing up your routine, increasing weights, and taking adequate rest days, you can see progress and dominate your fitness goals.
Don't get discouraged by failure or slow progress - instead, stay focused, stay committed, and don't forget to celebrate small victories along the way. No matter how tough it may seem, keep pushing yourself, challenge your body, and make gains.
Remember, the road to success is not always easy, but with hard work, persistence, and the right mindset, you can reach new heights and achieve the results you've always wanted!
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