10 WAYS TO BREAK YOUR WEIGHT TRAINING PLATEAU
by Bill Sonnemaker, MS, PES, CES, CSCS
2007 IDEA International Personal Trainer of the Year
2007 NASM Pursuit of Excellence Award Winner
IDEA Master Trainer, NASM, NSCA, ACE, ACSM
If you have been training using the traditional methods (you thought were tried-and-true), you may have encountered the similarly traditional plateau. Have you recognized that the two seem to go hand-in-hand? There are ways to defeat the plateau—first you have to learn how to train untraditionally. Traditionally designed programs often result in a plateau because they are incomplete and scientifically inadequate. In order to achieve consistent long-term success in your weight training program, you must take the time to plan an integrated and comprehensive training program that includes the components of flexibility, cardio-respiratory, core, balance, reactive, speed, and resistance training.
Methods of training that mimic the procedures your coaches taught you in high school or college should be replaced with a more scientific approach. Let go of the 1980’s and the “Bike” coaching shorts with the optional 6” waist band. It is time to transition from customary lifts, squats, and stationary machines—sticking with a comfortable routine will limit your performance. Look into learning a scientific approach, such as the OPT (Optimum Performance Training) model by The National Academy of Sports Medicine (www.nasm.org).
Below are some fundamental tips and knowledge you can implement today to make your workout more integrated, efficient, and effective at overcoming your current weight training plateau.
An integrated training program should utilize a multiplanar training approach since all muscles function in three planes of motion (sagittal, frontal, and transverse). Every action should also use the entire muscle contraction spectrum (eccentric=reducing force; isometric= stabilizing force; concentric=producing force) in all three planes of motion.
When focusing on the resistance training component of an integrated program (with the goal of increasing maximal strength and power), it is important to differentiate your program through 4 phases of resistance training: stabilization, hypertrophy, maximal strength, and power. It is imperative to the success of your program that you first develop adequate levels of stabilization strength prior to beginning maximal strength or power training. “By performing stabilization exercises you are developing pathways from your brain to your muscles that will make you more efficient during your workouts as well as in daily activities” says Jeff Ball, CSCS of Catalyst Fitness.
Before proceeding it is important to recognize the principles of Overload, Variation, Specificity, Individualization, and Progression and the role they play in governing the physiological adaptations that occur in our bodies. A review of these principles will help you understand how your body will respond and adapt to exercise stimuli.
To elicit optimum physical, physiological, and performance adaptations, “you must introduce your body to new physical stimuli frequently. Our bodies adapt quickly to the demands incurred during training (Specific Adaptations to Imposed Demands). Overload can best be achieved through proper manipulation of Acute Variables (repetitions, tempo, sets, rest, intensity, exercise selection, duration, and volume),” says Lauren Bryan, CES of Catalyst Fitness.