One of the most frustrating feelings is to finally be 100% dedicated to your workout routines and you are not getting stronger anymore! You are hitting the weights 2-3 times per week and knocking out 2-3 FAST PACE workouts each week, and still no improvement. Appreciating the fact that you aren’t getting weaker or gaining weight, identifying reasons that you are not getting stronger is a must. The plateau effect is knocking on your door…

If you are unfamiliar with the plateau effect, let me introduce you to this term you must know. The plateau effect is an exercise term that means you have reached your ceiling for improvement in the type of workout you are doing. No matter what, you will meet your plateau. Runners can only run so fast (currently Usain Bolt is the fastest runner with a 100m dash in 9.58 seconds), jump so high (Javier Sotomayor with an 8 foot high jump), and squat so much weight (Donnie Thompson at a whopping 1265 pounds!). When you meet that plateau, your body will no longer adapt, or get stronger to the current levels of stress placed upon it from your workout routines. Before you get discouraged, you should first congratulate yourself because you have reached a milestone! You have become so good at a certain workout that it’s not even doing you much good anymore! That’s a good thing.

But, of course, you want to continue to improve. Overall, varying workouts, allowing adequate rest and eating the proper foods will help you get past the plateau effect. Take some time to redesign your workout if any of these reasons you are not getting stronger apply to you.

Beat the Plateau Effect!

  1. You are not using eccentric movements. Eccentric movements are key in getting you stronger. In fact, these movements are so effective, it’s almost like cheating! If you are unfamiliar with eccentric movements, learn more here. In short, slowly lower the weight to the starting position over a 4 second period to build muscle and strength. Slower movements build muscle better! Slow down your pace and you will get through your current plateau.
  2. Your eating habits are terrible! Think of your muscles as a separate organism… The Beast inside of you! Before you exercise the Beast, you have to feed it and make sure it is hydrated. While exercising the Beast, you have to give it water. After the workout, you must feed the Beast with good food that will help your muscles build. You must read this post on how to eat properly to get the most from your workouts to beat the plateau effect.
  3. You keep doing the same thing. Stop doing the same workout at the same pace that you always do. Sure, it is easy to get comfortable with certain exercises or with walking or jogging at a certain pace. I understand, but don’t do it anymore! It’s like studying for the same test, taking the test, passing it and taking it again because you know you can pass it. You can’t be 16 years old and still take the Kindergarten final! I hate to be harsh, but I see this over and over again. You must push yourself with a different workout routine that has different exercises to work different muscles in your body. Do 500 rep workouts, then try circuit workouts, then try set workouts, etc. Stop doing the same ole’ thing and you will grow past the plateau. Exercise Menu has over 100 workout routines to choose from- change it up!
  4. You need rest. At times, when I train for things, I admittedly get excited and push myself way too far. Next thing you know, I’m limping around the house with multiple ice packs wrapped around each limb and I’m out of the game for a week or more. You will never get stronger during your workout. The time in which you will improve is during your rest periods, so make sure you include them. Never ever… ever, ever, ever, workout the same muscle group on two consecutive days. For example, do not do squats (leg exercise) on Monday and lunges (another leg exercise) on Tuesday. Your muscles will not have time to heal and grow. Avoid the plateau effect and give your muscles at least 48 hours to repair themselves so they can better serve you for your next workout.
  5. You don’t realize the importance of your last repetition. The very last repetition of your workout routine is the most important, by far. The key to getting stronger and pushing past your plateau is to make sure you cannot do any more repetitions after your last one. For example, if you are doing a set of 10 bicep curls, make sure you are using a weight heavy enough so that your tenth repetition is absolutely the last one you can do. If it isn’t do 11, then 12 and so on. Keep going until you cannot lift that weight anymore with the proper form. If you just stop at 10 for the sake of stopping, you are wasting your time. Think of all the reps before your last one as “warm up reps” that get you to the point of absolute muscle failure. Increase the weight or do more reps to make sure your last is “all you got.” Push yourself to this point and you will beat the plateau effect.

What have you done to push past the plateau effect? Share your thoughts below!

Resource: MayoClinic.com: Benefits of Physical Activity