The Right Way to Set Exercise Personal Records

Use this technique to avoid training plateaus and start setting personal records in the gym.

When you decide to get stronger and start strength training with weights, the initial improvements are fast and easy. You can often add 5 pounds and get stronger every workout for quite some time.

However, there will undoubtedly come a time when the bar stops going up every workout. This is called a plateau. Many people allow this to frustrate them to the point of calling it quits. This is simply because they lack the knowledge to work around the issue. More importantly, they don't have a plan to move forward.

RELATED: Five Ways to Keep Progressing and Avoid Training Plateaus

This is your plan. Cycling strength training will change the game for you. Right here, right now is a foolproof method to keep you getting stronger for years. Many of the strongest people on earth are secretly cycling strength training to get stronger and stronger.

The trouble comes from what I call the genetic potential ceiling. When you first start out, you are far away from your genetic potential. The gains come cheap and easy. But over time, you inch closer to your genetic potential. The gains come harder and harder. This is the time to introduce cycling.

I am going to teach you precisely how to build a strength training cycle. It's a simple method and it works wonders. It truly is a secret of the pros.

RELATED: 4 Revolutionary Plateau Busters

Top strength trainees have used cycling for decades. This secret weapon is the simplest and most effective way to get stronger year after year. Anyone can do it. You don't need to be a neurosurgeon to learn how to apply cycling to your training. It has built-in recovery periods and high intensity periods to help you keep progressing and minimize injury risk. Cycling, by definition, starts out with a moderate weight on Week 1 and finishes in the final week of the cycle with a personal record (PR).

3-Week Cycling Strength Training Example

  • Current Squat PR: 390x5
  • Week 1: 375x5
  • Week 2: 385x5
  • Week 3: 395x5 - New PR

In this example, the weight starts off well below the old PR for the 5-rep Squat in Week 1. However, it ends in Week 3 with a new PR improvement of 5 pounds. Victory! Stronger is bigger; bigger is stronger.

How do you know how much weight to add week to week? You learn this through experience under the bar. Everyone has different psychologies and abilities.

A good rule of thumb is to start with 10-pound jumps for lower-body movements and 5-pound jumps for upper-body movements. Obviously, there are thousands of combinations you can do. Just understand the concept: start Week 1 of your cycle with moderate load and end the cycle with a 2- to 5-pound PR improvement.

How long can you do a cycle? Cycles can range from 3 to 12 weeks for one movement. More advanced lifters tend to use longer cycles.

RELATED: 3 Tips to Blast Through Training Plateaus

6-, 9- and 12-Week Cycling Strength Training Examples

6-Week Cycle

  • Current Squat PR: 390x5
  • Week 1: 345x5
  • Week 2: 355x5
  • Week 3: 365x5
  • Week 4: 375x5
  • Week 5: 385x5
  • Week 6: 395x5 - New PR

9-Week Cycle

  • Current Squat PR: 390x5
  • Week 1: 315x5
  • Week 2: 325x5
  • Week 3: 335x5
  • Week 4: 345x5
  • Week 5: 355x5
  • Week 6: 365x5
  • Week 7: 375x5
  • Week 8: 385x5
  • Week 9: 395x5 - New PR

12-Week Cycle

  • Current Squat PR: 390x5
  • Week 1: 285x5
  • Week 2: 295x5
  • Week 3: 305x5
  • Week 4: 315x5
  • Week 5: 325x5
  • Week 6: 335x5
  • Week 7: 345x5
  • Week 8: 355x5
  • Week 9: 365x5
  • Week 10: 375x5
  • Week 11: 385x5
  • Week 12: 395x5 - New PR

All of these examples lead to a 5-pound improvement and a new PR of 395x5 on the Squat. Determining the cycle length is based on your ability to recover and your training experience. If you have trouble recovering, choose a longer cycle. If you are young and get to eat and sleep a lot and have excellent recovery abilities, choose a shorter cycle. These examples are basic, linear cycles and they work great. Once you reach your plateau, don't get frustrated. Get excited that you can finally start cycling.

Photo Credit: Getty Images // Thinkstock