Change Your Schedule
ALWAYS continue shocking your muscles with a different number of sets, different rep ranges, and different exercises, and get your diet handled!
Whether you’ve been lifting for 10 weeks or 10 years, we’ve all been there. By “there” I mean, lifting consistently and lifting hard, but no matter what, you can’t break your dang plateau! But not everybody’s case is the same, there are 2 main types of plateaus that we’re going to talk about and then we’re going to talk about ways to break those plateaus.
First off, one of the most common plateaus is a lifting plateau.. These are people who just can’t seem to get any stronger. Meaning no matter how hard they go at the gym, they can’t break into the next set of dumbbells on their top set or they can’t add another stack to the cables. Or maybe they’re trying to increase their 1 rep max (1RM) but no matter what they do, they can’t get even 5 pounds heavier than what they got 4 months ago. Don’t stress. We are going to cover ways to break out of that dreadful zone here in a second.
Then aside from a weight training plateau, some people can’t break out of a plateau in the mirror. These are those who are trying to change their body’s physical appearance but no matter what progress they have on paper, they look the same. Meaning they are seeing their weights go up in the gym, they are lifting more, they’re hitting cardio hard, they’re doing everything (they think) imaginable to get their abs showing or just get that lower belly fat off or trying to get their arms or chest bigger but day after day, selfie after selfie, they have nothing to show for it.
Now… lets talk about ways to break your lifting plateau.
One of the main reasons people find themselves in a lifting plateau is because they're simply not lifting properly. They're going into a set of, let's say, dumbbell bench press knowing they're going for 10 reps. Now, don't get me wrong.. That's fine IF you're doing those 10 reps with proper form and proper weight. And what I mean by that is, on a set of 10 reps, you should NOT be able to get any reps above that number. On a set of 10 repetitions, that 10th one is your FAILURE POINT. It should be physically impossible for you to get 11. Too many times people go to the gym knowing what their workout is, they use whatever weight they’re used to and they do however many reps they know they can handle.. then in turn they never get stronger and wonder why they’re making no progress. Too many times people are doing sets of 10, when really they could have gotten 13 or 14. And those last 3 or 4 reps when you're really struggling are the ones that matter anyways! So what are you really getting out of your workouts? If you are living by this method in the gym, I guarantee you break out of that current weight range within three sessions of training that muscle group.
Another reason people find themselves in a lifting plateau is because they have become content in the gym. What I mean by this, is they are just going through the motions, doing what they’ve always done. Four sets of ten reps with the same weight is not going to have the same effect on your body on the third month as it did the first day. In order to stay in a state of muscle growth, you have to continually shock your muscles. This means a different number of total sets, different rep ranges with different weights with different exercises. Muscles adapt to training regimens very quickly and if you’re not sore after each workout, its time to rethink your approach at the gym.
Then the other side of it…
People absolutely kill it in the gym day after day and see some progress in their workouts but then they go home and look in the mirror and they haven’t built any muscle, they haven’t lost any of their love handles, they haven’t gotten that annoying layer of fat off off their lower abs, etc.. And this leads to SO MANY people giving up due to the frustration stemming from a lack of results.
What every single one of these people needs to be told is to simply get your diet handled. If you haven’t heard the saying before, its time you do, “Diet is 80% of getting the body of your dreams.” And its true! If you want to lose weight, diet. If you want to put on muscle, diet. If you want to get that thin layer of fat off and get more muscle definition, diet. How many times have you been in the gym, been crushing the weights or beasting out cardio 10x harder than the person next to you but they’re shredded and you’re not… The difference is they have their diet handled.
Of course lifting weights and proper supplementation is important but its that last 20%. Once you figure out what a good macronutrient percentage split is for your body (a good place to start is 50c/25p/25f), figure out which dieting approach is best (example: balanced vs carb-cycling) and stick to it for an extended period of time. You will break that plateau in the mirror. No doubt about it.
So if you take nothing else from this article, at least take this.. ALWAYS continue shocking your muscles with a different number of sets, different rep ranges, and different exercises, and get your diet handled!