4 Plateau-Busting Tips

by Shannon Clark
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4 Plateau-Busting Tips

Does it feel like no matter what you do in the gym, you just aren’t moving forward? Nothing is more frustrating than hitting a progress plateau, but sadly, it’s something that virtually every gym-goer will face at some point in his or her fitness career.

Things were going along great and then results just seemed to come to a halt. You haven’t changed anything, so why aren’t you seeing the results you want?

The reason is precisely this: You haven’t changed anything. Remember, the whole point of your workout is to get your body to adapt to a training stimulus. This means your body builds itself up so that you can comfortably do what you are asking of it. This is the process of progression.

So once adaptation has taken place, if you continue to do the same thing over and over again, you aren’t giving your body anything further to adapt to—thus, it maintains the status quo.

Here are four ways that you can get unstuck from that plateau, and start seeing results again.

Change Your Rep/Weight Scheme

Think the only way to progress is to add more weight? In some cases, this isn’t the best solution. You might be at a sticking point where you just can’t lift any more weight, but yet the weight you currently lift isn’t challenging enough. What then?

It’s time to adjust your rep range. If you were doing sets of 8 reps, try doing sets of 10 or 12 reps. You may even need to decrease the weight slightly as you do this, but that’s fine. The increased rep range is going to provide a new challenge for the body and something it needs to adapt to.

Utilize Drop Sets

Drop sets are another great way to get through a strength plateau. Can’t get to that next level? Try this for two to three weeks and then see if you can progress.

To perform drop sets, start with your normal standard set using the regular weight you lift. Then, immediately after the first set is done, drop the weight by 5 or 10 pounds. Perform a second set.

Once that set is done, drop the weight one more time and then perform as many reps as you can on that third and final set.

This should bring you to the point of full exhaustion, upon which you can rest before repeating a second time through. Just avoid doing any more than two drop sets per session, as they are highly taxing on the body.

Try A New Piece Of Equipment

Sometimes what your workout really needs is a new form of training. If you always lift using dumbbells, for instance, try using a barbell next time you’re in the gym.

While it’s a small change, often it’s enough to see results. Switching over to weight machines may also be an option if that’s what you prefer.

As long as you’re still stressing the muscle and providing an overloading stimulus, you’ll see results.

Take One Week Off

Finally, the last thing that may be needed to help you get past a plateau is to take one week off entirely. If you are on the verge of overtraining—a state where the body is not quite recovering as well as it needs to between each workout session—this will completely halt your progress as well.

Take one week off and don’t be surprised if, when you come back, you feel stronger than ever.

These fast, simple ways should help you get past any progress plateau. Use one of these tricks the next time you’re feeling stuck and frustrated, and not seeing results.

About the Author

Shannon Clark

Shannon is an AFLCA certified personal trainer with a degree in exercise science. She has written on the topics of health, fitness, and nutrition for nearly a decade, and her thoughts and advice are regularly published on Bodybuilding.com, shannonclarkfitness.com, and FitRated.com, a leading fitness equipment review site offering fitness insights on equipment, workout plans, and weight loss strategies.


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