Beating Yout Plateau
Tips on getting over a plateau and moving to a higher level
During diet control one will get to a point where despite rigorous training there will be no visible changes occurring. After putting in a lot of effort one can feel that all efforts are in vain and their body is not growing. Such a situation can be termed a 'Plateau'. In this situation we need to change something in our program. But first there is a need to question ourselves; how long has one been consistent in their workout routine? How often do I change my routine? What type of diet do I consume? How much rest am I getting?
If the same routine has been followed for 3 months or more and the body is not getting a proper diet which is helpful in growth then there is bound to be a problem. If diet is the problem then that can be solved with some special increments or changes in the diet plan. If diet is not the problem and you have been consistently following the same routine then it is time that the muscles have to be shocked into growing. Confusing muscles is what bodybuilders call this technique. Change the workout routine after a maximum of three weeks.
There are different ways to confuse the muscles and get them to grow beyond the plateau. All these techniques cannot and should not be used at once. The workouts should be varied and by using some of the techniques the results will pretty soon become obvious. Care is required when doing variations as these could lead to over training.
Focus on the muscle. This is the single most important strategy used by bodybuilders to encourage muscle tissue breakdown. This is strictly a mental exercise. It will help you by allowing focus on the particular muscle group that you are trying to stimulate. Here is an example while doing a bench press, but it can be applied to all lifts. Start by lying under the bar and completing a rep mentally. Think about what muscle you want to do the work.
It is very important that bodybuilders think about focusing on muscles. A bodybuilder must focus on a group of muscles that he wants to build. The mind has to concentrate on a particular group of muscles. For example before doing a bench press focus on the exercise you are going to do. Do the exercise in your mind and focus on the muscles that are going to be used.
Let's take an example, start with a bench press. Think about the muscles that will be involved in this exercise. Lift the bar and focus on contracting the chest muscles. You can just lift the bar without adding any weights a couple of times and just mentally think about how you are going to use your muscles. Once you add the weights on and start the exercise think about flexing the muscles and not about pushing the bar up. When bringing the bar down think about pulling your elbows down and forget about the bar. Pushing up and pulling down on the bar should just be reflexes of your muscles. Concentrate on all the muscles involved without thinking about the exercise that you are doing.
Vary the intensity of an exercise: select an exercise and try and increase the pace of the exercise. That is do the exercise faster. If in your normal routine you do 3-4 reps with heavy weights. Vary it by doing 12-15 reps with lighter weights within the same time.
Alternating routine: Alternating exercise routines are a good way to shock the muscles. Alternate them between 'heavy' and 'light' days. On heavy days maximize the weights and reduce the number of times you do an exercise. On light days reduce the weights and increase the number of times you do them.
Resting muscles can also be varied. Rest the smaller muscles for a lesser time and the larger ones for a longer time.
Forced reps have become quite popular in which one tries to lift much more weight than he can and may need his partner to help to lift the weight till the exercise finishes. It is helpful on heavy days when you are at the end of a rep. Another way of doing forced rep is to get a friend or the spotter to press down the bar with his body weight and his help may be needed in lifting the bar also when doing a bench press.
Burning the muscle by doing partial reps is another great way to burn muscles. Lift the weight 4 or 5 inch off chest while doing bench press reps. This exercise gives wonderful results and can also be used with incline fly or dumbbell bench. Don't do it for squats as that would be a waste of time.
This rep consists on 21 reps. Do 7 reps in first half of a full motion then the next 7 reps in the second half. At the end of the full motion do the last 7 reps.
100's are a killing exercise. Use a weight which can be easily lifted a hundred times. This should be done towards the end of a session. As at this point the body has used up the supply of energy it had stored. This exercise allows more blood to circulate rapidly through the body but does not cause any damage to the muscles.
Isolate the muscles during a workout. For the thigh muscles leg extensions are a great way for isolating them. Do isolation only on specific muscles. Dumbbell preacher curls are recommended for the biceps.
Isotension means flexing, and relaxing the muscles before, during and after a workout. Press the palms together while doing a chest exercise is an example.
Isometric is an incomplete range of motions. It is done at the start of an exercise like only going down to 6 inches in a bench press. Try to maximize the weight that you use. It is tough but it is mass builder because going downwards in 5 or 6 reps 6 inch lower gives strength to the muscle. It will also increase your reps as your body will get used to the weights.
Negative reps are another good exercise when bodybuilders are lowering the weight. Raise the bar as in a normal exercise and then tense the muscles fully and lower the bar very slowly with the muscles tense. You may take thrice as long at lowering the bar then raising it.
Slow reps should only be done at the end of a workout. A slow rep means repeating an exercise but in slow motion, also remember to reduce the weight. It takes away the momentum of a fast rep and doing a good slow rep gives a great pump. But the point is to go for muscle breakdown and not the slower pump. Doing this at the end of a workout will give the required contraction to the muscles.
Breaking the bar is an amazing option which causes more muscle fibre breakdowns. Use your own weight and not that of the weights. Hold the bar as tight as you can and while pushing it up try to bend the bar. Focus on trying to bend the bar or to pull it apart. This is a good exercise for the triceps.
If you find that you have lost your form for a rep on a heavy day and you try to cheat to finish the rep. This is wrong as you must stay strong and healthy and cheating should be avoided. Don't ever cheat on an exercise.
In weight training pyramid reps are quite common. Bodybuilders can start out with light weights and go on increasing them till he reaches the maximum weights. Then to finish off he returns to the lightest weights.
Usually during a normal workout you start by warming up and once the blood gets pumping you go for the heavier exercises. In heavy duty you go straight for the heavy stuff with a minimum of warm up and skipping the pyramid.
Burn out makes the muscles use oxygen more efficiently. After completing a workout, identify a muscle and focus on only working on it. Only use lightweights when doing this exercise and do it towards the end of the workout.
Staggered sets are done to develop undeveloped muscles. For example if you want your calves to get bigger you may do calf exercises between other exercises. Or only do calf building exercises on a particular day.
Prioritize your workout routine so you only focus on developing your weak areas. If there is any areas of the body that you think is weak then on a fixed day only focus on exercising that area.
Work order is the routine by which you work your exercises. Exercise the big muscles first so that they are too tired when you exercise the smaller muscles.
A superset is using two different methods on the same group of muscles. Like doing push ups between bench presses.
Stripping weight is a good method for building muscles. Doing as many reps till the muscles are completely fatigued. Then reducing the weights and continuing. Then when tired of that weight reduce the weight more. This helps to generate a pump. Don't make it a habit of stripping weights.
I go / you go is a fun exercise where you and your partner do the same exercise one after the other. Like if doing straight bar curls your partner hands you the weights when he is done and you hand them back when you are done. Both continue this till one of you gives up. You can also increase the times you do it.
Peak contractions are done to encourage the muscles to grow. The way to do this is like when doing bicep curls squeeze the bar of the weight with all your strength at the top and slowly relax your grip as you move the bar down.
Pause is quite similar to peak contraction. When the top of a movement is reached, stop and hold the weights and count for a couple of seconds and then continue. This is not a rest but it's opposite.
Rest is important for muscles to grow, remember they don't grow while exercising but when one is sleeping. So make sure you get your proper sleep.