How to bust through training plateaus

In our previous article, we established what a training plateau is and why they suddenly show up to ruin the party. So let’s take this a step further…

How can you bust through the plateau and get back on the road to a fitter version of yourself?

Try some of these:

Vary your weight/reps

Different rep schemes and weights will allow changes in volume to shock system

Reverse your routine

Try starting with what normally is your last exercise in the gym and finishing with your big key lifts. You will then use more weight for the exercises you commonly end with creating a new overload pattern whilst requiring to bust out more energy on the exercises you are normally fresh for.

Plan your training

Professional athletes have their training planned in carefully implemented blocks, this doesn’t mean you need to hire an Olympic level coach, but cycling your training to change some of the parameters which are mentioned in this article at regular intervals is the best way in being proactive about preventing plateaus from occurring.

A rough guide for most people is to vary your training every 4-6 weeks. Knowing what is planned ahead can also help you manage injuries, taper into competitions and keep you motivated.

Change your recovery periods

Dropping your recovery will get your heart rate up, induce more fatigue and require more metabolic output i.e. more calories burnt

Increasing your recovery

Will help maximise gains in strength and power as these require large amounts of energy stores to achieve.

How to bust through training plateaus

Change your tempo

Time under tension is critical for muscle growth as well as speed and power development. The more time you spend doing an exercise the more damage will occur to a muscle allowing it to grow bigger and stronger, whilst the faster you do an exercise, the more it will condition the muscle fibres that control speed.

Vary your exercises or terrain

Try single leg or arm exercises, this will activate stabilisers and core stability muscles whilst also helping fine tune any imbalances between sides of the body that may be present. Changing terrains will keep you mentally fresh. If you always run on the treadmill try getting out for a trail run, it will help re-energise you and get more quality out of your session. Swapping to unfamiliar terrains can increase session difficulty without adding extra volume which may increase the risk of injury

Vary the intensity

High intensity isn’t always a good thing, it is important to do a combination of high and low intensity sessions so that when you do keep it high, you have more energy to make the quality of these sessions strong.

Written by

Travis Waite

Trav is a Physiotherapist with an Exercise Science background who specialises in shoulder injuries and gym-based rehab. He believes that injury rehab is an opportunity to work on performance and to emerge better than before you were injured.

Travis Waite