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Breaking through plateaus is usually very easy, if you just believe you can do it. Sure, changing up your workout by doing more volume, modifying the rep scheme, switching the exercises, performing supramaximal holds with 105% of your 1RM prior to your set, or just increasing or decreasing the frequency of your workouts, can most times do the trick. But, in my experience, the number on the bar can also be the problem.
If you’re stalling at 365 lbs. when you squat, your mind might be keeping you from your potential. You have to believe you can crush that weight and more. Instead of loading up 365 and hitting it for one rep, get under the bar and don’t rack it until you get two reps.
Go into the set thinking about something that really pisses you off or creates rage in your mind. Then attack the weight. Or put 370 on the bar and smash that. That mental edge, where you overcome the plateau before you even put the bar on your back, can be the key to you finally breaking through to the other side.
Overtraining doesn’t occur as often as everyone thinks. In fact, lifters don’t usually train as hard as they believe either. Yes, if you’re training every day for 2 hours or more, you will overtrain. But most lifters can’t get into the gym that often. They usually hit 3-4 workouts a week, and even though they are at the gym for 1-2 hours, probably only 40% of that time is actually training.
With that being said, a standard “rule of thumb” in the fitness industry that is often prescribed is taking a recovery week after every 4-8 weeks of hard training. This means you chill for a week and play some basketball, stretch, hit some mobility and foam rolling, or just do something different than going to the gym.
This will help you renew your enthusiasm for training and give your body a break. Finally, some common signs of overtraining that you could look for are increased resting heartbeat, irritability, not wanting to go to the gym, sensitivity to noise and light, or my favorite, the weights feeling “cold.” Your hands are a gateway into your central nervous system and if you’ve ever gone into the gym and the handle of the weights feel cold in your hands, it could be an indication that you need to scale back training on that day.
Meet the Lift Doctor
Jim Smith is a highly respected, world-renowned strength and conditioning coach. A member of the LIVESTRONG.com Fitness Advisory Board, Jim has been called one of the most "innovative strength coaches" in the fitness industry. Training athletes, fitness enthusiasts and weekend warriors, Jim has dedicated himself to helping them reach "beyond their potential." He is also the owner of Diesel Strength & Conditioning in Elmira, NY.