March 30, 2023


Gym progress is not linear. Sometimes you can do the exercises with ease and achieve great results. But there are times when you and the bar are at odds, and everything comes to a standstill because you finally hit a plateau.

The terrible plateau in training is when progress has stalled despite your best efforts. If you’ve been lifting weights for a while, you’ve most likely experienced this problem before. The secret is to find a way to get past the plateau without resorting to stupid or dangerous methods like squatting on a stable ball.

If you are currently experiencing a plateau in your workout, then there is light at the end of the tunnel. The following three methods have been around for a long timebecause they work. They may not be as sexy as doing heavy weight quarter squats, but after doing them, you will be happy with your results.

1. Pause repeats

The three main stimuli for muscle hypertrophy are

  1. mechanical stress,
  2. metabolic stress
  3. and muscle damage.

While metabolic stress and muscle damage are denied in some circles, the addition of a pause covers all three of those bases.

Warning. Paused repetitions are unpleasant – you will quickly begin to hate them. Suspending a muscle under load (like the bottom of a squat) will test you in ways you never thought possible, because breaking through plateaus takes effort.

How does it help. If you have difficulties at a certain stage of the movement, then it is worth giving it more time, not less. Pausing at a point of difficulty, such as when the bar is over your chest on a bench press, will strengthen the muscles in the area where you need them most.

How to do it. Pauses work best on complex exercises such as deadlifts, squats, presses, and deadlifts. Do them at the beginning of your workout when you have the most energy. A pause of three to five seconds at 60 to 80% of your maximum weight for five to ten reps is good.

Programming example

1A. Pause press (pause from 3 to 5 seconds): 4 sets of 5 repetitions.

1b. Breeding with an elastic band: 3 sets of 15-25 repetitions.

2. Rise rate

When you see the direction “2121” in the program, it means the rate of ascent, and each of the four numbers represents a different point of ascent. The first number is slow down (eccentric phase), the second is the bottom position, the third is the concentric lifting phase, and the fourth is the top position or blocking.

For example, a tempo of 2121 for a barbell squat is slow down for two secondsthen pause for one second at the bottom position, then a two-second rise and pause at the top position for one second.

How does it help. Tempo exercises allow you to slow down and focus on your form. Any imperfections will be easier to notice when you slow down the climb. In addition, increased time under tension will help you gain more strength and muscle mass.

How to do it. This is best done with presses, squats, and variations of the leg press. You can control the pace according to your goals. For example, if you’re having trouble controlling weight loss on your bench press or squat, then dropping the weight and using a three to five second eccentric phase will help. Using 70-80% of your 1RM for 6-12 reps (depending on load) is a good starting point.

Programming example

1A. Romanian deadlift (tempo 3131): 3-4 sets of 6-8 reps.

1b. One-leg extension of the thigh: 3-4 sets of 12 repetitions.

3. Adding half repetition

Adding partial reps to most strength exercises increase muscle loading time, helping to “feel” the exercise more and correct technical flaws or problems at certain stages. After all, when you have problems at certain stages, spending more time on them will help improve your overall strength.

How does it help. This works best with accessory exercises such as single leg exercises, pull-ups, and push-ups to develop strength where you need it most. For example, if you’re having problems above your chest with the bench press, adding a half rep to your dumbbell chest exercise will help solve that problem.

How to do it. You can “expand” the exercise by inserting half reps between full reps in the range of motion. For example, while squatting, go up halfway, then go all the way down and up to the top. Be conservative and reduce weight by 2-5 kilograms. 3 to 4 sets and 8 to 12 reps is enough.

Programming example

1A. One and a half squats with a kettlebell in front of you: 3 sets of 8-12 reps.

1b. Hip stretch: 30-60 seconds (each side).

Author Petr Deryabin

Pyotr Deryabin is a journalist, correspondent for the news service Pravda.Ru

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