Have you ever worked out and noticed that over the weeks you started to hit a plateau?
You stopped being able to do more. You found you stopped being able to lift heavier weights. And the changes you were seeing in your body came to a halt.
Bit of a bummer for you and me. But if your livelihood depends on your continual progression, like professional athletes, the consequences of not improving are pretty serious.
We already knew that lifting weights made athletes stronger, perform better and have more visible muscle tone. But after a short time the law of diminishing returns kicked in and they stopped seeing the progress they had originally experienced.
Sports scientists long ago found that one way to keep the gains coming was to vary the type of stress on the body. In the gym that meant varying the weights (and rep ranges) the athletes were lifting on a regular basis.
For the athletes, lifting a variety of weights rather than sticking to the same weights month after month helped them improve how well their bodies performed.
And varying the number of repetitions in any given workout was a good way to indicate to the athlete whether they were supposed to be using a heavy weight (low reps) or a lighter weight (high reps)…
… and just for the record they NEVER used a light weight… only lighter 🙂
If you’ve hit a plateau in your gym workouts try mixing it up a little with this simple plan. For the next few months do all the usual weights exercises you’d normally do, except select a weight you can only lift for the number of repetitions listed below:
Month 1: 15 reps
Month 2: 10 reps
Month 3: 12-15 reps
Month 4: 8 reps
To get the right weights for each exercise takes guessing in the early stages. So don’t worry if you pick a weight that’s too heavy to complete the number of reps. That’s part of learning what you’re capable of. And over time you’ll get to know your body and what’s realistic for you while still being challenging.
If maintenance is the goal then it’s probably ok to keep doing the same weight for the same reps month after month. After all some exercise is better than none, right?
But if you’re keen to see a noticeable difference from your workouts then sometimes lifting heavier, sometimes lifting lighter will help keep you progressing.
If you’re not already varying your weights regularly give this a try with all your weights exercises over the next few months: Month 1: 15 reps, Month 2: 10 reps, Month 3: 12-15 reps, Month 4: 8 reps