Mathews McGarry is passionate about many forms of strength training, and spent years lifting, dragging and flipping all manner of heavy objects. After graduating on the Faculty of Exercise and Sport Science, he started writing about his experiences, and sharing advice for better life. Follow him on Twitter.
Working on your physique is one of the noblest pursuits, but it is no mere feat whatsoever. It takes quite a lot of patience and diligence to reach those record-breaking personal results.
However, one of the most demotivating obstacles in this entire process of physical perfection is the plateau. It happens to almost every gym enthusiast, no matter if you’re in it professionally or just for personal growth, but there are, of course, ways to either avoid this monotonous nuisance or shorten the duration of its effect.
If you have trouble blasting through your plateaus, here are a few methods which will help you learn how to shake things up…
Word of Advice
Change doesn’t come in an instant though, you have to induce certain stimuli to force your body to adapt. Your body will eventually get used to the idea that it has to get accustomed to the stress you inflict upon yourself.
However, such stress can get your physique in an alarming state, which is why recovery is also tremendously necessary for your endurance and only when you rest properly after a hard workout (sleeping and eating right), your efforts will be compensated in the form of muscle growth. This may be a more formal explanation of the process so far, but the key component to it all is consistency.
You will never induce and reach the level of satisfying change if you do not stick to your regime! This may be clear as day, but not a lot of people are capable of such dedication and perseverance. This is where you distinguish champions from the regular enthusiasts.
Before explaining any method, you have to know that in health and fitness in general, when muscles produce force, there can be three outcomes:
- The lengthening or stretching of the muscle which occurs during eccentric resistance (or negative) exercises
- The shortening of the muscle during concentric (or positive) exercises
- When muscles are held at a constant length which causes isometric contractions.
All of these types of contractions have a particular effect of our body, but if you want your body to grow beautifully, you have to learn how to activate all three of them in correlation.
The first thing you should bear in mind with this method is that the more control you use when lowering your weights, the more weight you’ll be able to lift back again, and thus influencing muscle growth more potently.
There is simply no need to rush with this one, just remember that the so-called lowering phase of your exercise is there to put a lot of necessary stress to your active muscle region. This load on your body is needed to execute the concentric portion of your exercises (contractions which shorten muscle length).
This is a scientific fact which can be tested in a simple manner:
Try to set up a power rack for a bench press and lower the pins just above your chest. Just do one rep and try to press it from the bottom position.
If that weight cannot be lifted, that means you haven’t trained in this manner appropriately, which ultimately leads to a plateau.
By taking advantage of the lowering phase, your concentric muscles get activated and warmed up, but if you want to improve growth, you simultaneously need to focus on your negative or eccentric strength exercises (like the barbell squat exercise).
Stick to military presses, squats, chin-ups, bench presses and barbell rows, just put an emphasis on the negative portion with a rep range between one and three.
Many athletes tend to overlook this method, but it is vital for growth.
Static strength is when you hold something in a certain position for a set amount of time. This type of training tends to give you fantastic pumps, just remember to execute it correctly.
For instance, try to hold the top position of a chin-up for about 10 seconds and when you are done, flex your lats (latissimi dorsi) as hard as possible. You will feel an incredible blood rush and muscle pump in that region! These exercises are excellent for combat athletes because they need to be able to hold certain positions for much longer periods than usual.
The best thing to do, when it comes to this method, is to work on your areas you consider to be weak. It definitely takes time to feel and see improvement, but you have to start from somewhere, right?
Start off easy, with reps that last for about 5 seconds and work your way up to a 10 second rep. The fun starts when you can reach the “super static” repetitions, where each exercise which involves holding should last more than fifteen seconds.
This method is a real plateau killer, so it is unbelievably effective, but only if you are able to persevere such hardships!
Stop making excuses and just do it!