Does this sound familiar? You have about an hour before your workout. You start thinking about what routine you are going to do. You take your pre-workout drink and even add a little extra. You’re getting yourself jacked up to lift more than you did last week. Today’s workout is going to be great! You get to the gym and find your favorite bench, squat rack, or whatever it may be. You throw plates on, do a couple reps and think to yourself, “OMG, this feels super heavy today.” This happens to almost everyone. It’s deflating, it’s frustrating and it downright sucks. I want to give you a few tips that might help you get over that frustrating plateau.
Change up Your Routine
There are 2 different types of lifters. There are the people who write everything down. They have a set routine that they will do for 8-12 weeks, nothing changes. Then there are people like myself, who just kind of wing it. We go in kind of knowing what muscle group to work but have no clue what exercise will be done and in what order. Neither one of these is right or wrong, it’s a personal preference. Whichever lifter you are, try to change something up. If you are constantly in that 8-12 range, try 6-8 weeks at 15-20 reps or 3-6 reps. If it’s not the reps you’re changing, try slowing down. Take 3-5 seconds both on your up and down motion. You will definitely need to lower your weight, which also means throwing your ego out the door. There are many studies done that getting more “time under tension” has really helped in gaining strength and size. Your body needs a change, it adapts quickly to the routine you are in.
This can be controversial. There are some experts who don’t believe in overtraining as long as you are taking at least 48 hours before working the same muscle group. If you are already strength training 6-7 day per week, maybe scale back a bit. Try 4 days by working out Monday, Tuesday and Thursday, Friday. If you just must get into the gym then do some light cardio or abdominal training on your “off” days. It may also be beneficial to take a whole week off from all training. Another issue may be that you are spending too much time in the gym. There is no reason to workout for 2 hours at a time. Stop the chit chat, checking out social media and everyone’s favorite, the selfies in the mirror. Keep track of your rest time and then get back to work. You will be amazed how good your workout can be in less than an hour if you stay focused.
There is a new study out that says we need 9 hours of sleep to fully give your body the rest it needs. Now, as we all know, this is very unrealistic in today’s society. We are busy people. Especially if you have young kids. There is already no time for you to relax and destress from the day so how in the world can anyone get this much sleep. If you are one of the lucky ones, good for you! If you are like me, I function quite well with 6-7 hours of sleep. Anything over that makes me draggy. The key is to take advantage of the sleep you do get. Try not to drink much water after supper. There is nothing worse than getting up 2-3 times per night to use the bathroom. There is nothing worse than interrupted sleep. I don’t have the perfect answer for you on sleep as everyone’s situation is different. Do the best you can to plan your day so that you get crawl into bed as early as possible and get yourself a good night sleep.
If the 3 tips above have not helped you break through the dreaded plateau, you might not be eating enough. If you are really dedicated to getting bigger and stronger you should also be dedicated to tracking your nutrition. You should have a pretty good idea how many calories you are eating per day and what the breakdown is with your protein, carbs and fats. I would suggest upping your calories by as little as 100 calories per day. The best way would be to get those from carbs. 25grams pre and post workout. You want the majority of your carbs eaten around your workout. If you start breaking through, great, keep the calories where they are. Once you get stuck again, increase a little more. The bigger and stronger you get, the more you will need to eat. Also, don’t forget to hydrate. I find that the more hydrated I am the more energy I have. Your body is made up of mostly water so keep pumping the fluids.
I hope at least one of these tips helps you in your strength training journey. If you need more help or would like to talk to one of our Trainers please visit our website or call us at 701.237-4805.