We've all been there. We get to the weight room, bang out our sets and reps like we have for several weeks and leave questioning why the plan isn't working the way it used to. It seems like we're not getting any bigger, stronger, faster or leaner. Being stuck on a plateau is never fun, but getting back on track can be easier than you might think. These training tips will make your "same old" workout brand new again, and you can implement them immediately to breathe new life into your old plan.
Flip the Script
Almost every athlete starts with big compound lifts and finishes with isolation movements. Reverse that plan for a couple weeks. Isolation moves at the beginning of your workout will compromise the weight you use for the big lifts, which you will now be doing at the end—but that's OK, because when you get back to starting with the major moves, you should notice an increase in strength, which is something any athlete should want.
You've probably heard of supersets, giant sets and drop sets. Staggered sets is a protocol that was popular in the 50s, 60s and 70s among bodybuilders and weightlifters. Let's say you're a basketball player who wants to work on your calves to improve your jumping ability. Of course, you should still train your calves normally. With staggered sets, you add more sets of calf exercises to another workout later in your week. For example, on an upper body training day, randomly perform a set of Standing Calf Raises for 20-30 reps every few minutes while you're training. You will be doing six, eight or 10 extra sets for your calves, which can make a difference between barely getting to the rim and dunking the ball.
If you feel a certain body part could be bigger or stronger, you might want to pay attention here. For this example, we'll talk about a football player who wants to develop more leg power. He will more than likely have a leg day, but that might not be quite enough, or he may need to challenge himself and improve even more for a different position. He can do a few extra sets of Squats and Leg Presses after another workout a couple of days after his leg day. This way, he gets in more sets without the risk of overtraining.
Change the Plan
Sometimes change is good. Whether it's sets, reps, exercises, rest between sets, or all of the above, analyzing your program and tweaking it here and there can appear to be minimal, but the impact on your progress can be huge. If you are resting one minute between sets and not getting any stronger, take 90 seconds instead. You'll be surprised at how much of a difference 30 extra seconds can make.
Many of you reading this may be grunting at this one, but it needs to be addressed. Sometimes it's simply a matter of taking a couple of extra days off. The wear and tear of training can take a toll, and if your body isn't recovered by the time you train again, your subsequent workouts won't be as effective as they should be. If you feel you're not getting anywhere and have to force yourself to train, stay home and rest for another day. The workout will be more effective tomorrow after a little more rest than it will be today if you're dragging yourself to the gym.
Photo Credit: Getty Images // Thinkstock