Many exercisers face your problem at some point in their training period. This is called your “training plateau.” This occurs because you have gained basic strength and now it is the time for your workout to be done more systematically. By doing so, you will continue to gain strength and also increase muscle growth. There are ways to beat the training plateau, some of which include exercise selection, exercise method, exercise repetitions, and extended exercise sets.
Before going thoroughly over each one, let me tell you that each body responds differently to any workout practice. That is to say, if you compare yourself with others, you are bound to be disappointed because what works for someone else may not work for you and vice versa. There are things such as morphological factors, genetic strength, and heart and lung capacity to consider. My advice to you is to carefully read the following techniques and try to implement them in your workout program. You will be surprised with the difference they can make in the results of your training.
You need to select new exercises or do a variation on your exercise routine. For example, if you work your legs on the leg press machine, try to select a leg exercise on the Smith machine; this will work your legs with different dynamics effectively. Even if you change the position of your feet on the leg press machine (closely placed feet, V-shape feet, high or low on the platform…), you will work slightly different muscles, and this will break your leg workout routine. You can do that for any major muscle group, and you should. By changing your exercise selection periodically, you will avoid a training plateau and even monotony.
Changing your exercise method is to perform your exercise with different resistance. For example, instead of exercising your biceps using dynamic constant resistance method (doing the whole range of motion with a barbell or dumbbell), work them by static resistance (hold your arms at a 90 degree angle with the barbell or dumbbell). Since you have a partner, have her help you to raise heavy weight and hold it still. Another example of changing the exercise method is to perform your pushups statically (get in pushup position; lift your body off the floor until you get your arms at a 90 degree angle and hold still until you fall down).
Like the name implies, you need to change the exercise repetitions. For example, if you are on a routine of performing 12 to 15 repetitions on each set, change it to 8 to 10 repetitions a set and use heavier weight. You can even do 6 to 8 repetitions with more challenging weight, as long as you change the number of repetitions periodically (every 3 to 4 weeks). Changing the exercise repetitions will enable you to stimulate different muscle fibers and give you more strength as a result.
Extended Exercise Sets
Another way to break free from a training plateau is to extend your exercise sets. For example, instead of resting after performing 10 shoulder presses (using 75 percent of your maximum strength, which will fatigue 25 percent of your shoulder muscle fibers), immediately reduce the weight by about 20 percent, and do extended sets of 4 to 7 repetitions. By so doing, you will stimulate additional muscle fibers that were not engaged in the first set, which will result in more strength, growth, and different development.
These are some ideas that will help you to overcome your training plateau. You need to allow time for muscle recovery because resting is part of your training program. Smart exercisers, evidently like you, strive to train for results. Such results can be achieved by training intelligently.