4 ways to break a plateau when you’re trying to build muscle, according to an expert powerlifter

A good exercise program and consistent adherence to the basics can help you break through strength training plateaus. Mikolette / Getty Images

  • Training plateaus occur when you work hard in the gym but don’t see great progress.

  • To restart your winnings, an expert recommends keeping in good shape and rest.

  • Then make sure you stick to a good program and focus on your goals for the best results.

  • Visit Insider’s homepage for more stories.

A training plateau where your progress slows down or stops altogether can occur regardless of your fitness level. It may be more frequent after the first 6 months to a year of training if you leave the “novice gain” phase of rapid strength and muscle gains behind.

While few things are more frustrating than spending hours in the gym watching your hard-earned profits fade, a few simple tweaks to your routine can boost your efforts.

To get your gains back on track, a seasoned powerlifter recommends sticking to a program of challenging yourself, taking care of your body, and setting specific goals.

Prioritize basics like good form and proper rest

When your workouts aren’t working, you may not be giving your body the proper support it needs to build muscle, said Chris Duffin, a world record holder for powerlifters and co-founder of Kabuki Strength, told Insider.

The most common mistakes in weight training include not eating and sleeping enough. Either of these can prevent your muscles from recovering and growing after a workout.

Then check in with your form to make sure you are doing the exercises correctly. If your form is poor, you risk injuring yourself and making the exercise less effective, Duffin said. In contrast, excellent form can help you do more work and see greater benefits.

“The better the quality of the movement, the more intensity, volume and frequency we can tolerate and recover,” he said.

Add the correct amountt intensity

Strength training works by putting stress on your muscles and asking your body to adapt by building more muscle tissue and getting stronger. If you stick to the same routine with the same weights and sets, you will find that it will get easier, but you will gain less weight each week.

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To keep improving, it’s important to challenge yourself over time, a basic concept of fitness known as progressive overload.

“You have to increase the intensity and volume to get results,” said Duffin.

However, too much intensity can also affect your progress. Therefore, it is best to gradually increase your weight and / or how much exercise you do to prevent overtraining, he said.

Duffin recommends an increase of about 10-15% over a period of four to six weeks.

For example, if your initial deadlift routine is four sets of 10 reps at 100 pounds, you can gradually increase to four sets of 10 reps at 110 pounds.

Commit to a program

It is a misconception that to cause “muscle confusion” and keep gaining weight, you need to drastically change your workout or routine.

A better way to make progress, according to Duffin, is to stick to a program for six to nine months. Ideally, choose a program that builds on skill over time and then be patient enough to pull it off.

“People try one approach for a month and then jump to the next. That’s the biggest mistake I made in the beginning and the mistake most people make, ”he said. “You can’t find what works or not by hopping around.”

Focus on a specific goal

After all, the best way to accelerate your progress in the gym is to prioritize what you want to achieve instead of trying to do everything, Duffin said.

“You can’t expect everything to get better all at once,” he said.

Targeting a muscle group like shoulders or buttocks to exercise twice a week can increase your progress more than general full-body workouts, Duffin said. Then, when you see gains in that area, you can shift your focus to another goal and repeat for cycles of about six weeks.

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