Everybody reaches a strength plateau in his or her programming. There are several ways to help break through this. If you are consistently lifting and trying to get stronger every now and then you just need a little tweak to your program. Here are 3 of my favorite techniques to break through your strength plateaus and how to implement them.
Benefits: Removes the stretch reflex, which helps recruit muscle fibers for the lift. With the stretch reflex gone it is strictly you moving the weight.
Implement: This is an easy one to add into your program. At the bottom of each rep, pause for a 2 count while maintain tension in the lift. Your weights will likely decrease slightly as you start to work paused reps in. If you are bench pressing, pause with the bar on your chest count to 2 and then finish your lift. After performing paused reps in your routine for a few weeks test your strength again and see how far past your plateau you are.
Benefit: As Dan John says, “Groove the pattern.” With an increase in frequency you become much more efficient with the exercise.
Implement: Simply perform the lift more often. If you want to improve your front squat, front squat 2-4 times a week. A couple months ago, I followed the first 8 weeks of the Smolov cycle where I was front squatting 4 times a week. In that time frame I added 30 pounds to my front squat. When implementing this strategy, vary the weight and reps within the week and focus on adding quality sets of 1-3 perfect repetitions. This strategy will make you incredibly efficient with the exercise you want to improve on.
Benefit: You get more reps in with heavier weight.
Implement: In your heavy sets give yourself 10-15 seconds between reps and then perform another rep. During the rest, rack the weight and then continue the set after your short rest. For example, if you can bench 275 twice, transform it into a cluster set and get 3 repetitions. The added rest will give you just enough recovery to get a little extra work in. Any time you can get more reps controlling a heavier weight you will get stronger.
Start implementing these techniques if you are hitting a plateau. Find one that you can work into your routine easily and start getting stronger and break through your plateaus!