By: Martin Ebner
You're eating well, training hard and giving your body sufficient rest, yet you're stuck in a rut. What gives!?
Unfortunately, weight-training plateaus happen to us all. Whether you're a beginner, intermediate or Mr Arnold Schwarzenegger himself, you will no doubt have or will experience at least a few weight training plateaus along the way. A loss in strength, failure to hit rep counts, irritability, lethargy, frustration, lack of motivation and little to no progress are all telltale signs that you've hit a training plateau.
Now, before we get into the good stuff, it's important that you can first answer yes to the following questions:
- Are you eating a nutritious and well-balanced diet?
- Is your training regime varied and challenging?
- Do you get enough sleep (7-8 hours per night)?
- Do you allow enough recovery time between workouts?
- Do you drink at least 2 litres of water per day?
If you answered no to any of the previous questions, we may have just found the culprit of your weight training plateau. You simply can't expect your body to perform and progress without first giving it what it needs to do so.
If you answered yes to all of the above questions, these 3 techniques could be just what you need to help break through your training plateau.
1.) Drop sets
Drop sets are a technique where you perform an exercise to failure or near failure, then drop (reduce) the weight by 15-20% and continue for more reps until you reach failure, drop the weight again and repeat.
Notes: Do not use drop sets for every exercise in your workout routine. Doing so will result in a burn out. Instead, incorporate drop sets into the end of your workout. When done correctly, the results will come thick and fast!
2.) Rest - pause sets
Rest - Pause sets are a technique where you perform an exercise to failure or near failure, rest for 5-10 seconds and continue for as many reps as possible. You can repeat this process 1-2 times. Not only does the brief pause allow you to refocus on technique, it gives the muscles just enough time to recover by 10-20%, allowing you to knock out an extra few reps and blast through your training wall.
Notes: You can perform rest - pause sets with any exercise at any time in your workout. I use this technique in every one of my workouts and I find it to be highly effective.
Supersets is a training method that requires you to perform 2 exercises back to back without rest. The exercises can be from the same muscle group (example: bench press and cable flyes - Chest) or from different muscle groups (example: Rows and push ups - Chest & Triceps and back & biceps).
By incorporating supersets into your workouts, you increase the intensity of your workouts by performing more work in less time. This results in muscle overloading aka improved muscle strength and size.
Notes: You can use supersets with any muscle group, exercise and time in your workout.
It's important when using these training methods that you allow at least 2-3 weeks for results. If however after this time you are still stuck in a plateau, it could be time for a workout plan overhaul.