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  • Sarah Louise & Bill Wynne

6 ways to overcome a strength training plateau

So you’ve been working out for a while and you’ve started to notice the first muscle tone, but… you haven’t seen any progress for a while. You’re still training hard, nailing your workouts, though you’re starting to lose motivation. Does this sound like you? We’re here to help.

Workout plateaus happen to most of us if we don’t progressively adjust our workouts. However, the good news is it’s easy to overcome. Read on to find out 6 easy ways to overcome your strength training plateau and start seeing progress again 💪

Trainn app: 6 ways to overcome a strength training plateau

What is a workout plateau? what is a strength training plateau

A workout plateau is when you've stopped seeing progress in your workouts despite maintaining your workouts. They often happen if you're not aware of applying progressive overload to your workouts and continuously adjusting your workouts as you get stronger.

Now you know what a workout plateau is, let’s find out how to overcome them 👇

6 ways to overcome a workout plateau

#1 Put your weakest exercise first

We’ve all got a couple exercises which we find a little tougher than the others (mine is pushups). Because of this, I tend to completely skip it, or quickly do it at the end of my workout.

However, being too comfortable in your workouts means you aren’t going to progress much further. It’s the exercises that we find the most challenging, that are going to challenge us the most and therefore progress us.

If you consistently struggle with a particular exercise, make sure not to skip it. And even better, add it at the beginning of the workout when you have the most energy. By putting it first you ensure you give it your best shot, which means getting to work your muscles in a way they normally struggle with and you have more chance of seeing progress.

#2 Replace (or advance) exercises you've outgrown

Doing the same exercises again and again is a surefire way to hit a workout plateau. Adapting them to your progress not only keeps you mentally stimulated, but keeps your muscles challenged. If there are certain exercises you no longer feel challenged by, here are two ways to deal with the plateau:

  1. Replace the exercise. Either find something entirely new, or find a variation of the exercise. For example, swapping standard bicep curls for preacher curls. Or swapping static lunges for Bulgarian split squats.

  2. Advance the exercise. This is called progressive overload. This can mean either increasing the number of reps, weight or adding weight to exercises you wouldn’t normally do weighted. For example, adding a dumbbell to your situps, tricep dips or planks.

#3 Change your workout split

Optimising your workout split is such an easy way to improve your workouts. By splitting full body workouts into upper body and lower body training sessions, you’re able to challenge your muscles further with workouts dedicated to each. This also means not needing to rest your entire body on a rest day so you can squeeze in an extra gym session or two to your workout plan.

If you’ve already split into specific upper body workouts, the next step is to create separate push workouts (i.e. chest presses) and pull workouts (i.e. one arm rows).

Trainn app: 6 ways to overcome a strength training plateau

#4 Optimise your nutrition

However great your gym session was, if you’re not fueling your body with the right nutrition, you might get stuck in a weightlifting plateau. Your muscles won’t have the right fuel for them to grow stronger.

When you’re strength training, you need to focus on upping the intake of:

  • Protein: you know it, I know it. Protein is the building blocks of your muscles, so you need to eat a variety of protein sources to build muscle.

  • Carbs: these provide you the energy to actually do your workouts. They’ll help you feel fuller for longer, so you’ll be less likely to choose unhealthy snacks lacking nutritional value.

  • Calories: to make your muscles grow stronger, you need a calorie surplus. In line with your weight and workouts, simply put, you need to consume more calories than you’re burning.

#5 Take your rest days

You’d be forgiven for thinking more is better when it comes to training. But by skipping your rest days, you actually risk undoing your training efforts.

You might think it’s during your workouts that your muscles build themselves stronger, however that’s not true. It is in the recovery after the workouts, that your muscles are building themselves back up again. That’s why taking a day’s rest after a workout is good for you. Working out every day will leave you tired, burnt out and less likely to keep up good form in your workouts… and none of these deliver results!

#6 Introduce "deload weeks"

As with your rest days, deload weeks are designed to help both your body and mind recover. It’s both physically and mentally challenging to "give it your all" in every single workout. That’s where deload weeks come in.

Deload weeks are where you lower the intensity of your workouts for a week so you have more energy, strength and motivation to lift heavier the following weeks.

Deload workouts are done by lowering the weights slightly and upping the reps. For example, if you currently do 4 sets of 8-10 reps of squats at 60kg, you can lower to 45kg and instead do 4 sets of 12 reps. It’s still going to challenge your muscles, but in a different (and less mentally exhausting) way. They are also a great opportunity for you to work on your technique by focusing on slower movements and increased core engagement.

Trainn app: 6 ways to overcome a strength training plateau

Progress further than ever with trainn

As frustrating as workout plateaus are, you can definitely overcome them with the right approach. This relies on you keeping consistent with a structured workout plan, but not being afraid to adapt and rewrite your workout plans as you progress.

That’s where the trainn app comes in. Stuck in a workout plateau? We can fix that. With clever technology, the app will design perfectly personalised workouts for you, that adjust every week as you get stronger. And if you ever feel slightly stuck in your workouts, you can message your in-app Personal Trainer anytime.

Download trainn now, and make workout plateaus a thing of the past:


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