It’s always frustrating to have progress stop, so we will address how to beat strength-based plateaus. Trying to pass through plateaus can increase the risk of injury if you mindlessly keep pushing. For example, your bench press is not continuing to go up like it once was but you keep trying to force more and more weight. Eventually you’ll see your form suffer and possibly injure yourself. But you can defeat that sticking point and see results again if proper planning is used.
The first technique is called unloading. You continue to do your regularly scheduled workouts but back off on the weight and volume (amount of sets) by about 25 percent. This means if you regularly bench 100 pounds in four sets of 10, during an unload week you’ll lift only 75 pounds in three sets of 10. Focus on form during this week and resume normal lifting the following week. Lifting numbers often begins moving up again immediately following this procedure.
More drastic than unloading is taking a full week off from the gym. For a consistent lifter this may be difficult to fathom. This time off can help muster up more recovery than their body is accustomed to. This will make you feel refreshed and usually even stronger once you return.
Outside of unloading or rest weeks, the final technique is eating more. Bodies need fuel to grow. If pushed too hard or too long without proper nutrition, oftentimes lifters will begin to see their numbers start to drop. If you’re constantly feeling achy, aren’t seeing results and your sleep is being affected then definitely try this technique first.
Even the most dedicated gym-goers have encountered their share of plateaus. Have you felt like you’ve been spinning your wheels? Don’t quit! The next step could be as close as resting and eating more.