Breaking Through a Plateau

Brandon Hahn June 11, 2012 Training Articles

Welcome to the wall. You can’t climb it or push it over. You want to scale it, but don’t know how. What is the first step? What tools do you need? These questions and more come to mind when breaking through a plateau. Let’s get to scaling that wall!

A plateau comes at the most inopportune time. You were making huge strides in your training. Now you have to deal with this issue. Plateaus are very common and overcoming a plateau requires a sound plan. Here is a good plateau busting breakdown:

  1. How long have you been using your current split?
  2. Are you eating for growth or weight loss?
  3. How much sleep are you getting?
  4. What are you supplementing with and does it fit your program?
  5. Are you using any advanced training techniques.

Training splits
A training split should be changed every four to six weeks. Our bodies require changes to limit adaptation. Make your body guess by adding sets, increasing weight, or increasing intensity (Note: Intensity refers to the percentage of your one rep maximum). If you hit a plateau, it’s time to change up your split.

Eating regimen
Most people pay little attention to their eating habits. They tend to overeat or undereat for their current caloric needs. If you want to grow, you need to be eating a surplus of calories for your body’s needs(Note: This is also called a hypercaloric eating regimen). If you want to lose weight, be sure to eat less than what your body needs for the day (Note: This refers to a hypocaloric eating regimen).

Sleep patterns
Getting your z’s is important whether you want to gain size or lose weight. The body requires sleep to rebuild from the stresses of the day. A lack of sleep can cause a spike in cortisol levels. It can also disrupt the natural release of growth hormone. Another problem is a loss in the ability to focus.

Supplement plan
Stopping at the local supplement store can drain your wallet. This should not be your key focus when achieving goals. Supplementing is exactly as it the words states, supplement. It is a supplement to your goals. NOT a key focus for your goals. Supplements should supplement your program and offer additional support. A pill should only be an additional push and not the driving force.

Advanced techniques
Remember this is a fitness blog, so don’t get too excited. Advanced techniques refer to advancing beyond traditional sets. These techniques need to fit your training and your style. A drop set may work well for a short workout. However, longer workouts may employ too many drop sets, and make your workout too lengthy. Doggcrapp training, or rest-pause, may work best for short workouts just as mentioned above. The technique needs to fit your style.

Some different advanced techniques:

  • Drop sets – these require reducing the weight by around 25% at the end of the set. Then, repeat for as many reps as you can. Possibly followed by another drop set.
  • Rest-Pause – this technique requires a rest period during a set. It is usually between 5 – 20 seconds before repeating two more times.
  • Supersets – these refer to one exercise followed by another. Supersets may use two compound movements, same muscle group movements, and opposing muscle groups (to name a few).
  • Giant sets – these refer to three or four exercises grouped together. Generally, these employ same muscle group exercises.

Focus on the steps above and you will be busting through any plateau. Remember to develop a plan and stick to it. Do not allow your body to get stagnant.

About The Author

Brandon has been in the fitness industry for over seven years and has trained over 1,000 clients. He has competed in several bodybuilding competitions and continues to improve his physique with hardwork and dedication. With a Bachelor’s Degree in Exercise Science, Brandon has the knowledge and skills to get you on the fast track to fitness.