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Beating Your Best Lift

Q: What's the best way to overcome a workout plateau?

A: Increase the weight you're lifting by small increments of a couple pounds or less, rather than a full five to 10. You could also drop out of your rep range a little. For instance, if you're supposed to be benching for 5 reps and you find yourself stuck at 225 pounds, try to do 230 for 3 or 4 reps in your next workout. It will be deviating from your program, but it still provides a new stimulus to your muscles.

One way to increase the weight by smaller increments is to use Plate Mates, which are little plates that magnetically attach to larger plates and dumbbells. They come in numerous small increments (we recommend the 1 pounders) and can be purchased at fwonline.com for $20 a pair.

Another plateau-busting strategy is to cut your volume way back. Do only one set of the exercise that you're stuck on and go to failure, then use the rest-pause technique. So, if you can only do 225 for five, do it, then rack the bar and take deep breaths for 20-30 seconds. Next, grab the bar again and do as many reps as you can (you'll probably get around half the reps you got the first time). Rest again briefly, and repeat once more. In your next workout, try to beat the total number of reps you got.

The most important thing is to never repeat yourself by using the same weight or performing the same number of reps you got in your last workout. That will do nothing to bust a plateau, and it's just wasting your time.

About the Expert:
Jason Ferruggia is the author of Muscle-Gaining Secrets and is the owner of musclegainingsecrets.com.

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