Muscle Building Plateau


Break Through Plateaus With Training – Part I

Whether the goal is to build muscle, strength, or to lose fat, plateaus (meaning that your gains have stopped) affect almost everyone.  However, if you know a few simple ways to vary your workouts, you can make progress a constant theme in your fitness program.  I’m going to give you a brief guide in busting through a few common fitness problems.

You’ve stopped gaining muscle or strength.

Usually, beginning weightlifters see fast gains when they first begin to train, but after they’ve done a weight lifting routine for a while, their muscles become accustomed to the exertion accompanied with that routine.  So, it’s important to mix it up.  I’ll share a couple of proven ways to reignite those gains.

Vary your rep range.

One way to accomplish this is to vary your rep range—the number of repetitions you complete (and how many sets you use) for each exercise.  When you switch up the number of sets and reps you’re doing, you shock your muscles into working harder, even though you may be doing the same number of total repetitions.

Let’s say you’ve stopped seeing muscle gains in your chest.  If you have always performed 3 sets of 10 repetitions on Bench Press, try doing 5 sets of 6 repetitions for a workout, with heavier weight.  The benefit of this is that it allows you to use a greater load, which is the amount of weight you’re lifting, while still completing the same number of total reps. A general rule in weightlifting is that 4-6 reps is optimal for strength gains, 7-10 reps is optimal for size gains, and 10-15 reps is optimal for muscle endurance gains.

Also, note that sets and reps should be inversely related.  So, if you’re doing a set of 5 reps, you should do 3-5 sets, while a set of 15 reps may only require 1-2 sets.

Change the types of exercises you’re performing.

If varying rep range isn’t your problem, maybe your muscles are too adept at performing the types of exercises you’ve been choosing.  Our bodies are extremely efficient when it comes to adapting to a stimulus when the conditions are right, and this might be what’s stopping you from continued gains.

For example, let’s assume you only do Leg Press to work your lower body.  Eventually, your body will become used to performing the same type of movement, so you can change to the basic Barbell Squat to work your legs in a different way.  Even though it’s a similar movement, the weight being distributed at a different angle can spark new gains.

If you’ve stopped seeing muscle gains, these two methods are great ways to bust through a plateau.  I recommend both varying rep range and switching out exercises to ensure that you see continued muscle growth in your weight-training program, if that’s your goal.


Eric Flores is a college student who has achieved physical fitness and wants to share his knowledge of training and nutrition with others. Through years of trial and error, Eric Flores has become proficient in designing exercise and nutrition programs for all fitness goals; functional or aesthetic.

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