As we strive to make improvements in our strength training workouts, we will undoubtedly reach a plateau eventually. It’s sort of like hitting a wall. We have stopped progressing. This happens because our muscles have become accustomed to the our exercise routine. In order to avoid “hitting this wall,” we need to vary are workouts from time to time. Provide our muscles with a shock, or jolt, by doing something different .
There are all sorts of methods we can use to vary our strength training workouts. This is particularly true these days with the introduction of resistance band systems and innovative cable mechanisms. How do we start? Here are a couple of easy methods you can use to vary your workouts.
Change your repetitions. Changing repetitions and weight is a simple way to vary your routine. Perhaps you are a dedicated dead lifter , and you have reached a plateau with your dead lifts. You are not progressing, and it’s time to change things up. If have been doing 3 sets of 12 with 135 lbs., change it to 2 sets of 8 with 175 lbs. This will jolt your system, and you can plow through your previous plateau.
At what point should you vary your repetitions? There isn’t a set period of time that works better than another. I try to vary my exercises at least every 6 weeks. Continuing with our dead lift example above, I would perform my sets of 12 reps for about 6 weeks. Then, add weight and reduce to 8 reps for the next 3-4 weeks. When you return to your 12 rep routine, you will very likely feel stronger and more invigorated. You have busted through the plateau.
Make your exercises different. Another way to vary your workout is to perform different exercises. This is another way to give your body a jolt to avoid that dreaded plateau. Again, the objective is to do something our bodies are not accustomed to.
We can show an example using the standard bench press. To break through a plateau, you can switch to dumbbell bench presses for a few weeks. Maybe you can try TRX style resistance bands. You can also change to a chest press or plate-loaded bench machine for a while.. Or you can even try different forms of pushups for 2-3 weeks. There are so many options available to you.
Make the change. Your variance only needs to last for a short time period. When you return to your standard bench press, your performance and progress will have improved noticably.
These are a couple of easy ways to break through plateaus by varying your strength training workouts.