How to Prevent Strength Plateaus
If you are into bodybuilding or strength training you are in it to win it, and basically when training you want to see progress, every training session counts, just like your meals, rest and supplementation, it does not take much to throw something off, muscle to a bodybuilder is like having a stash of gold, the more the better.
One of the biggest mistakes many people make is getting into the same old rut or routine, I have personally found myself sticking to one training regimen that I thought worked well for a while, the next thing you know my gains decrease and my muscles are no longer sore the next day.
What this means is that I am not training intensely enough or my body has simply gotten used to my current routine, that is when I begin to change things up.
My standard routines is to train one body part per day, I usually train legs one day, followed by shoulders the next, then back followed by chest the next day, that gives me four days at the gym, if I still have energy I will train arms “biceps and triceps” on Friday this gives me a full routine for five days during the week.
Changing it up
I am always changing my routine and sets, there is no science to it other than to keep fooling the muscle and shocking them as much as I can every day, what works for me may not work for others so below are just suggestions on what has helped me grow and increase strength.
When I focus on single muscle groups I will stick to between 5 and 6 sets, maxing out anywhere between 70%-75% of my one rep max, on the last set even if I can only do 2 or 3 reps for example if I am doing dumbbell bench press I will do the following:
- 1st set 65lbs 12-20 reps
- 2nd set 75lbs 10-12 reps
- 3rd set 85 lbs 8-10 reps
- 4rth set 100lbs 6-8 reps
- 5th set 140lbs 3-5 reps
I can do that routine for a couple of months and see growth, when I see growth taper off then I might want to implement a drop set with similar weight to change things ups, the theory behind this goes for other body parts as well I just used the above as an easy example.
Explosive growth with supersets and multiple body parts
If you have ever seen some of Arnold Schwarzenegger routines they were intense, Arnold liked to perform supersets and while I don't get the pump I normally do from working out one body part at a time, it has helped me break a growth plateau.
One of my favorite routines is super setting back and chest in this situation.
I don’t normally use as much weight because the session itself is so intense that you can't handle as much, but it is a good way to stimulate muscle growth, plus, if you perform the supersets correctly you get a good cardio workout at the same time.
Taking time off
I know some hardcore bodybuilders might scoff at this comment, but staying away from the gym for a week or two is a great way to give the body a rest and keep things fresh, I know it can be hard for some but taking a break will help, it keeps things fresh, sure you might lose a little strength, but it comes back quickly, when I do take time off from the gym I incorporate more cardio or other fun outdoor activities such as cycling or running.
There is probably not one method that is perfect, what is important is that you constantly change your workout routine, at least every couple of months, this will ensure your muscles don’t get used to the same thing all of the time and mentally you don't get bored of the same old thing.
While I realize some of these suggestions on how to prevent a strength and muscle gaining plateau might seem basic they are often something we tend to overlook which is why it's a good idea to step back and take a close look at your daily training and look for ways to improve it.