4 Quick Fixes to Break Through a Workout Plateau

4 Quick Fixes to Break Through a Workout Plateau

1. Increase weight and decrease reps.

4 Quick Fixes to Break Through a Workout Plateau

Workout The ACSM recommends one to three sets of eight ++When that becomes easy, Musto recommends adding a 5 to 10 percent increase in weight and seeing how many reps you can do. “Maybe you only get to 10 reps at first—use that as your guide,“ he says. “When you can accomplish 12 reps in good form, it’s time to increase the weight again.”

On the other hand, Falamas suggests a 20-percent weight increase in the course of three to four weeks. “Maybe for the first two weeks you increase by 10 percent,” she says. “And then by week three or four, you get to 20 percent.”

For example, if you’re currently bench pressing 60 pounds and doing two sets of 12 reps, increase to about 65 pounds for two to three weeks. (You may only be able to perform two sets of eight to 10 reps. Then reassess: Can you comfortably perform 12 reps with good form? If yes, increase your weight from 65 to about 72 pounds.

More advanced lifters can also try adding and subtracting weight from workout to workout, Musto says. Maybe you add five pounds one day and perform 10 reps, and the next time, you drop the weight and do 12 reps.

2. Try a new move.

“It’s better to change less than change more,” Barnet says. So if your usual routine incorporates five to eight strength movements, consider only changing one or two every couple of weeks.

One way to do so: Start working in different planes. “If you always do squats, try bilateral movements, like lunges,” Falamas says. Rather than simply moving up and down (in a squat), you’re now moving forward and back (in a lunge). Plus, with bilateral movements—moves done on one side of the body—your strength on both sides stays even, Falamas says. (Important so you don’t end up looking like this.)

Another easy switch: Swap in movements that target opposite muscle groups, and swap bodyweight movements for weighted movements. For instance, if you’ve always done push-ups and lateral pulldowns, now try bench presses and pull-ups. While both push-ups and bench presses work your pecs and shoulders, because one movement is bodyweight and one is weighted, and one is pushing up from the ground while another presses away from you, you’re still challenging your body to work in a new way. You may also find that despite the gains you’ve made on one part of your body—say your pecs and shoulders—you’ve got an imbalance in your back or triceps, Falamas says.

3. Up the intensity.

As with strength training, you can keep the changes small in your cardio routine. “If you’re doing steady-state cardio, I wouldn’t add more than two to five minutes at a time,” Barnet says. Better yet, she says, aim for a shorter distance, higher intensity, or try incorporating some interval training.

For example, if you’re used to running long distances, do eight sets of 30-second sprints three times each week on nonconsecutive days, Falamas says.

4. Set a goal.

If you don’t have a specific goal, pick one. It could be a 10K, more weight, or even a challenging yoga pose. Having an objective will focus your workouts and change them systematically so you reach your goal. (Wanna run a 5K? Start with this training plan.)

Above all, find things that are going to motivate you to stay interested, Falamas says. As long as you’re getting out there and working up a sweat, don’t stress too much over the details.

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