Add intensity to smash plateaus in the gym
So you’ve been smashing your way through your routine for a few months but you’ve plateaued, at first you made impressive changes, but the progress has slowed and when you look back on your gym logs (you’re keeping track of your lifts aren’t you?) you notice that you’ve been lifting the same weight for 4 weeks straight, what the F***!
Why have you stopped making progress like you did when you first started?
The simple answer is, you need to work beyond failure and experience a higher level of training intensity than you did at the start. This will also ensure that your workouts remain challenging and continue to promote progress over time, this will stop you lingering on the same weight for months on end or even lifting less!
So how do you intensify your training? Well its your lucky day, we have some top tips on things you can do to up the intensity:
Change the exercise
This doesn’t have to mean swapping bench press for dumbbell flys…unless you want to of course. There are many ways to switch up the same exercise, this could be a grip change, tempo change, perhaps throw in a decline or incline? All of these variations will help smash through any plateaus.
Add more weight
Fairly obvious right? Well, maybe not, a lot of people will chuck on a 10kg or 20kg plate in an attempt to lift more, this is pointless as chances are you’re going to fail well before your target rep range. Leave your ego in the changing room, see those little 2.5kg plates? or even the 1.25kg ones? Yup, pick them up and increase your weight in sensible increments. If you’re hitting your rep range target every week its time to up the weight!
Depending on your goal you most likely have a specific rest period, maybe a minute or two, perhaps 3…but lets do a few exercise with a 30 second rest period, your muscles will eventually adapt to recovering faster than they previously did, but the struggle to begin with will burn your muscles out much quicker than if you stick to the same rest periods on every exercise.
You’ll most likely need a spotter to do these safely, when you have reached failure your spotter can help you complete a rep of whatever exercise, normally the spotter just needs to use a finger or two to take some of the resistance but your muscles will be begging to tap out after a few forced reps.
Half reps (partials)
Ever seen that guy in the gym doing half reps and you’ve asked yourself WHAT is that guy doing, doesn’t he know anything about range of movement?! Well perhaps he (or she) has already completed their set but to push themselves past the point of failure they are utilising partial reps to completely punish the muscle. Give it a try and don’t worry about people laughing at your half reps!
If taking shorter rest periods isn’t your thing then what about jumping on to another exercise instead of resting? Supersets are a fantastic method of increasing intensity and will guarantee a pump like you’ve never felt before if you superset the right exercises together.
You’re 3 sets in to your chin ups and you’re just about to fail on rep 8, don’t stop there, use your legs and jump to the peak of your chin up and hold yourself there for as long as you can, this isometric hold at the peak of the muscle contraction will push you past failure and really stimulate the muscle.
Add some of these these intensifying tips to your routine and smash through those plateaus in no time at all.