Hitting strength training plateaus is never fun. This blog features four strength training protocols that can help you push past plateaus and increase strength gains.
1: PUSH/PULL: Using this technique you work opposing muscle groups back to back, or on back to back training days. For example, a chest exercise is followed by a back exercise, or a bicep exercise is followed by a triceps exercise. Or, one day may be chest and bicep exercises and the next day would be back and triceps. Some major benefits (aside from building strength) is that it helps achieve balance among the muscles, and can help prevent over training injuries.
2: PYRAMID TRAINING: Start with a light to medium weight and do a large number of reps (15-20). Then move to a medium weight and do slightly less reps (12-15). Finally, go to as heavy a weight as you can lift 6-10 reps. Take a small break between each set (about 30 seconds). A major benefit of training in this manner is the first set serves as a warm up set and gets the muscles ready to work hard. Another benefit is that exercises need not be complex to use this lifting technique. An exercise as simple as a bench press fits well into the protocol. This may also be reversed where you lift heavy for a small number of reps and progress to lighter weights with more reps. However, if you chose to reverse pyramid make sure the muscles are warmed up to prevent injury.
3: Regressive 6: This protocol uses 6 consecutive sets using the same resistance for each set. The first set has 6 reps, then 5 reps, 4 reps, 3, 2, and 1 rep. The protocol calls for a 12 second break in between each set. However, I found this to be too much rest and shortened the rest time as the reps decreased. I had clients rest 12 seconds after the first set, then 10 seconds, 8, 6, and 4 seconds. I found this to be more effective.
5 Position Static Hold: Using this technique it is advised to pick a resistance that is slightly lighter than you would normally lift. You hold the weight for 20 seconds in five range of motion positions including ¼, ½, ¾, ½, and ¼. In a typical bicep curl you would lift ¼ of the way up and hold that for 20 seconds, then go up ½ way and hold. Repeat until you get ¾ of the way up then go back down to ½ way and ¼ of the way. There is no break between the holds. This technique allows for muscle fatigue to occur. I like to add 1 set of 10 full range of motion lifts to complete the set.