When you become accustomed to a certain routine or way of life, the body is very stubborn is responding the same way it used to. Progress slows, results are not as dramatic, and often makes a person consider ”is all this worth my time and effort”. The human body is resistant to change and gets comfortable easily. Your job in the gym is to create that change. To create that new stimulus.
Having a basic understanding of progressive training principles will help you in the future if the feared “plateau” occurs to you. I’m going to offer you 3 solutions today that we use when a client often slows down in terms of strength. Like anything, all goals are different for each person, but for today’s blog we’re going to specifically focus on how to bust through a strength plateau.
- Are you eating enough in order to support strength gains?
A lot of strength clients are eating a lot less than what they think they are. Whether it be incorrect tracking measures, or not understanding nutrient content, or the common feeling of having a full stomach, under-eating is a sure-fire way to halt your progress and numbers for your lifts.
Slowly work on increasing your appetite, and adopt the mentality that you’ll often need to eat when you don’t always feel hungry. You can add an extra meal throughout your day, or increase portion sizes, or up your carbs – anything that is different to your “norm”.
- Are you sleeping enough each night, and consistently?
The importance is sleep within a fitness program is often overlooked and underrated. We all know sleep is important, but it’s always the third on the priority list behind nutrition and exercise isn’t it? That must change. Sleep is just as much a priority as nutrition and exercise.
When you enter deep sleep, the body is recovering and repairing torn muscles. Consistent sleep (for argument’s sake, 6-8hrs per night… not some nights, but each night) will also improve mood and energy levels.
Get into a routine where you go to bed at the same time each night, and jump out of bed the same time each morning. You may have to sacrifice those late night booze sessions with the boys… but that’s half of what any goal requires isn’t it? Sacrifice!
- Consider a de-load phase in your program
The amount of stress on the joints and the nervous system during a heavy strength program can take it’s toll after prolonged periods. Often taking 1 step back, will allow you to take 2 steps forward in the future. Focus on accessory movements and secondary muscle groups, focus on mobility work, whilst lifting a tad lighter during this period.
If you’re stuck on a certain weight and certain rep number, consider dropping the weight and re-focusing on strict (or even stricter) form. Leave the ego at the door, remember that no one is judging you if you drop a bit of weight off that bar, and focus on yourself and your overall goal.
After a brief de-load period, attempt those bigger lifts again in the future and you’ll be surprised at the result… given you are executing the other 2 points above as well.
– Simon Jeremy