The beginning of a new strength training routine is an exciting time. With each passing workout, you feel yourself becoming stronger, more confident, and the constant progress is incredibly fulfilling. But unfortunately, there will come a time when the strength increases begin to level off, and you're left wondering how to break through this plateau.
If this has happened to you, don't panic - this is a regular chapter in everyone's journey towards building strength and advancing health. Your rate of progress slows down because the exercise stimulus becomes less novel over time as your body adapts to the repeated stress.
When this happens, adjustments to your routine are needed to recreate a potent and challenging stimulus that forces your body to become better. One way we can do this is by tinkering with three variables that govern exercise - see below.
Of the three variables listed above, changing the frequency is often the most overlooked for getting through a plateau. I understand that people thrive off a consistent routine, but if you've been training four times a week for the last several months and feel like you're spinning your tires, then try shaking up how often you workout.
For example, try going down to three times a week (for a few weeks) training from four or vice versa. The extra recovery day may be just what your body needs to allow you to push harder in the workouts you do. Even taking a deliberate week off from training may shock you at how strong you feel when you pick up your dumbbells again. Alternatively, if you've been training 2-3X per week for the past few months, try adding in another session.
Naturally, there will be variance in intensity and volume from one workout to the next, so pay attention to how frequently you're training. And unexpected events and illness will force you to miss workouts here and there, but a planned and strategic approach to exercise frequency is a simple, yet effective way to keep your training fresh.
Here are a few examples:
Weeks 1-4 - 4x/week
Week 5 - 2x/week
Weeks 6-8 - 4x/week
Weeks 1-4 - 4x/week
Weeks 5-8 - 2-3X/week
Weeks 8-12 - 4-5x/week
Be strong and be well,