Beginners to resistance training can perform almost any exercise and make significant gains. However, for intermediate and advanced lifters who want to get stronger, improving is not as easy as performing a fixed-rep scheme.
Performing the same exercise the same way over and over can lead to training plateaus. The more advanced you are, the faster you can find yourself hitting that wall.
Here are three suggestions to advance your training so you can blast through those training plateaus.
1. Increase Range of Motion
By increasing your range of motion for a particular exercise, you increase its difficulty. Making an exercise more difficult can create significant carryover to the regular movement. It can also build strength in different parts of the movement, which can target certain weak points.
For example, someone who is weak off the floor in the Deadlift can perform deficit Deadlifts by stepping on an elevated surface. This makes the bottom portion of the lift tougher, thereby addressing the lifter’s weak point.
Research shows that increasing range of motion can lead to significant hypertrophy; and the increase in muscle mass improves your potential to increase strength.
2. Perform Single-Side Variations
Most people don’t perform single-side (unilateral) exercises, because either they think the exercises make them look silly or it hurts to do them.
Whatever your reason, skipping unilateral exercises might actually prevent you from getting some benefits that transfer to other movements. Unilateral exercises put your mobility and stability to the test. Have you ever tried performing a Single-Leg Romanian Deadlift, only to find yourself losing your balance? Or perhaps a Reverse Lunge, only to find you cannot achieve full range of motion?
Unilateral exercises help you address these issues and transfer your increased strength to movements such as Squats and Deadlifts. They also stimulate your muscles without too much spinal loading, which is ideal if you are easing back into training or coming off an injury without losing significant strength.
Check out the video player above to learn more about the benefits of unilateral exercises.
Recommended unilateral exercises for blasting through your training plateau: Bulgarian Split Squat, Single-Leg Romanian Deadlift and the Half-Kneeling Landmine Press.
3. Perform Partial Reps
This might seem contrary to the first point. However, when done right, partial reps have a place in training.
Research has shown that performing partial reps can strengthen weak points. For example, someone who is weak in the lockout portion of the Bench Press can overload their triceps by increasing the amount of weight but using blocks to reduce the range of motion.
The reduced range of motion at the top allows you to handle more weight than you usually do. This strengthens your triceps in the lockout position and improves your overall Bench performance.
Using both full range-of-motion and partial reps in a well-tailored training program is a key to making progress and getting stronger.