Have you ever felt as if you have stopped making progress in your current exercise brick wall? Whether it’s gaining muscle, losing weight or adding strength and power, everybody at some point or another has hit a brick wall in their training.
The answer is short and simple….. Anytime you present a new stimulus into your training, your body protects itself by adapting (advancing physiologically) to the current program. For example 30 minutes of cardio 3x a week may have led to a 5 pound decrease in bodyweight. Now you can’t seem to lose anymore weight. The problem is adaption has occurred and your body has become more physically fit. You may need to increase the intensity or add more cardio days. Either way new stimulus means new training effect, which means your body feels the effective of the stimulus and displays improvement. This is why when you first started working out; regardless of the program you made incredible gains.
The trick is to always come up with different ways to break away from the norm and try something new. The mind also adapts just like your body and it can experience staleness as well. It’s not always the physical aspect of training but something as simple as going to a new gym or changing the time your workout and can be just the doctor ordered. There is a mind = muscle connection that gets you prepared for your grueling workout. If your mind is somewhere else(boredom) your muscles might want to tag along for the ride. Try these plateau busters…
· Increase the intensity: whether its lifting weights, cardio or sprinting, try to better yourself in every work-out. For example if you do 3 sets of 12 reps with 50 pound dumbbells why not try 3 sets of 12 reps with 60 pound dumbbells, again your body will not be accustomed to the 60 pounds and will be forced to grow new muscle.
· Decrease the intensity: I realize this may seem counterproductive but plateaus may be based on going too hard for too long (burn-out syndrome), try taking a step back and lower the intensity, your joints, tendons, ligaments, muscles and most of all your mind will thank you for it
· Change the order of exercises: instead of always performing the bench press first in your chest routine try dumbbell flies first, followed by the bench press.
· Vary training modalities:
1. perform entire week of just machines
2. perform only full body workouts 3 x week
3. use body weight exercises for 2 weeks = pushups, dips, chin-ups and abs,
4. use high reps(the ultimate ego punisher), nothing lower than 25 for 5 straight workouts.
· Change health clubs: this may seem less important than the others but nothing beats a new environment with new machines, weights, music and fresh faces. Again your mind will love the breakaway from the mundane scene day after day.
· Change the time of your workouts: If you workout only in the morning, give the night-time slot a shot, again something as simple as this may be all you need to stimulate yourself.
· The following are some advanced techniques that some bodybuilders swear by
1. Force Reps: perform a set to failure (can’t do anymore) and then have someone help you just enough to perform an additional 2-3 reps.
2. Giant Sets: perform 3 sets of 3 different exercises for the same body part in a row without taking a rest.
3. Rest and Pause: Perform 1 set to failure and then lower the weight by about 10 pounds, wait 10 seconds and perform another set, repeat for 5 total sets.
4. Super Set: Perform 1 set of 1 exercise for 1 body part and then immediately perform 1 set for another body part, similar to the giant set, except you are involving 2 different body parts: for example bench press followed by the front pull downs.
. LASTLY…TAKE SOME TIME OFF…PERFORM NO EXERCISE AT ALL FOR AN ENTIRE WEEK…IF YOU HAVE THE INTRINSIC MOTIVATION NEEDED YOU’LL MISS THE WORKOUTS AND BE FIGHTING TO GET BACK IN THE GYM…
Try these gems out for size and new growth will be just around the corner!
First published in 2008