3 Ways To Break Through Weight Lifting Plateaus


By Myprotein Writer |

Alex Simpson

We’ve been there at some point or another. Whether trying to build muscle, increase our strength, increase our stamina, burn fat, or anything else for that matter, we all find ourselves hitting the dreaded metaphorical wall during our training, in which we find it incredibly difficult to make any progress whatsoever.

When your training and progress is going well, life is a true pleasure to live, and all seems right in the world. However, when you are struggling with your training, and you can’t seem to make any progress at all, or perhaps worse still, when you find yourself actually regressing and going backwards, well, the least said about that the better.

We hit plateaus for a whole variety of different reasons, although primarily, the main reason for it is simply down to the fact that the body is now used to the stress that you are placing it under by following the same routine week in and week out.

To help you get back on track with your training, here’s a look at a few strategies designed to help break weight lifting plateaus.

#1 Post-Failure Heavy Overload

Don’t worry, this type of training isn’t as intimidating or as difficult as it sounds

It is a proven way of helping people to overcome training plateaus. Say for example, on your final working set on the bench press, you perform 100kg for 5 reps.

chest press

If over the last several weeks, you haven’t been able to beat that 100kg for 5 reps, either by trying to go heavier, or by aiming for more reps, post failure heavy overloading may be ideal for you.

Basically, on the last working set that you’ve been struggling with, you will perform the exercise like usual, and, if you still cannot go past that 100kg for 5 reps, after the fifth rep, you will re-rack the bar, wait 20 – 30 seconds max, and will then bust out another 2 or 3 reps, or however many it takes to reach failure.

? You won’t suddenly beat that 100kg, but if you keep doing that after each exercise you’re struggling with, as you are forcing the body to work harder than usual, eventually that hard work will pay off and you’ll get that elusive sixth rep, or you’ll be able to add an extra 5kg to the bar and again reach 5 reps.

? It’s not possible to perform this method with every exercise and after every final set, but by prioritising exercises you are struggling with, eventually you’ll make the progress you need!

#2 Rest weeks

Struggling to find the energy and motivation required to get through a gruelling workout?

This could be a sign that you are overtraining.


In which case the body will need some time away from the gym to recover. To some, missing a week of training will cause them to break out in a cold sweat and will reduce them to a gibbering mess in the corner, but in reality, missing a week of training can be incredibly beneficial!

The reality is that missing a week of training is not going to cause you to lose any gains at all, as in actual fact, it will have the opposite effect!

? By taking a week away from the gym, you are allowing your body to rest and recover, and are basically giving it a holiday. A week later, by the time you return to the gym, you’ll find yourself just as strong, if not stronger in fact, as before, and will have a great deal more energy and will be able to get through your workout much more effectively.

? A recovery week will replenish glycogen stores, it will help to reset your Central Nervous System health, it will help ease muscle soreness and discomfort, and it will allow the body to properly heal itself.

Read more on overtraining

#3 Drop sets

Drop sets are also very useful for people struggling with plateaus

leg extension

This training technique allows you to increase the volume of a certain exercise after you have reached failure initially.

Say for example, you were performing dumbbell shoulder presses, once you reach failure, you will then grab yourself a lighter set of dumbbells and will perform another working set until you reach failure, before again picking up an even lighter set of dumbbells, and repeating the process again.

By the time you have finished, your muscles will be on fire and you will have really pushed them to their limits, which overtime, will help you to break through your training plateau and to once again continue to make progress on a weekly basis!

Read more on drop sets

Take Home Message

If you’ve hit a plateau with your training, try one of these above methods!

Our articles should be used for informational and educational purposes only and are not intended to be taken as medical advice. If you’re concerned, consult a health professional before taking dietary supplements or introducing any major changes to your diet.



Writer and expert

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