Improving your workout is an endless quest, and can get frustrating. There are certain parameters you must fulfill to improve, mainly adding weight to the bar or squeezing out more reps in the same amount of time. This is were the tried-and-true method of progressive overload comes in where you force your body to constantly adapt to higher weights while taking a deload week every 5-6 weeks.
SEE ALSO: The 5-Week Workout for Progressive Overload
This principle of progression states that your training intensity must progress at a rate that continues to be an overload for your bodies current fitness state. By staying one step ahead of your bodies adaptability, you will continue to see progress toward your fitness goals. In a perfect world we would just get stronger and leaner ad infinitum until we all look like Phil Heath or one of the other physique idols. And in the beginning of everyone’s gym career, things are going great: we are adding weight to the bar pretty much every session while getting leaner and more muscular at the same time.
Sounds great but all good things come to an end as progress stalls at some point, for a variety of reasons. Mainly, progress stops because your body hates you. Actually that is not true, your body loves you, indeed so much that it does not want you to become too lean and muscular. You see from an evolutionary standpoint it does not make sense to carry around 200+ lbs of lean muscle since it is much costlier to feed. Therefore our bodies love to shut down and keep us small and chubby. Depressing, no? Bear with me!
Beating Your Best
The key to break any plateau is change but not change for the sake of change. First, check your nutritional intake. If you are not putting on muscle, add another 300 calories a day. Secondly, how is your sleep? You should be getting anywhere from 7- 9 hours of good quality sleep. Sleepcycleappp is a great way to monitor the quality of your sleep via your phone. Mediating before bed can also very helpful to improve the quality of your time in bed.
From a training standpoint. It makes sense to add certain advanced techniques to overcome a plateau such as drop sets, cluster sets or one of my personal favorites, the two for one method.
The two for one method basically combines two exercises in one motion. Here is how to do it: during the positive aka concentric phase you are doing the easier exercise, the more difficult one is done during the negative or eccentric
The thinking behind is the following: your muscle is about 30% stronger in the eccentric ( negative) phase than it is during the concentric (positive) phase. Because of that, you can not quite fatigue the muscle during a regular set. By the same token, by fully exhausting the negative phase you are setting the stage for further growth down the road since you are priming the nervous system for higher loads. Here is a list of exercises that can be used for the two-for-one method.