When it comes to breaking plateaus, there’s usually a reason why they occurred in the first place. If building strength was as simple as choosing different exercises, then you’d see no end to your progress, year-round. Choosing too many different movements can often take the emphasis off of the more important primal movement patterns that should always be the hub of your training, regardless of what phase you’re in.
Here’s how to break through plateaus in strength, size, or muscular endurance by tampering with your rep schemes of the same movement.
Our body’s prime source of energy when lifting weights comes in the form of ATP (adenosine triphosphate). It fuels us for explosive, intense work for no more than 15 seconds and usually takes a couple of minutes to completely restore ATP once we’ve drained it all. But, if we partially restore it, it can give us just enough juice to squeeze out a few more reps than we originally would have.
Use the following tactics to lengthen your sets and perform more reps. The result: stronger, bigger, and more conditioned muscles.
Put your five-rep max on the bar for squats, deadlifts, overhead press, or bench. Take the bar off the rack and perform only four reps. Rack the weight, rest for 10–15 seconds, then take the bar off the rack again, and go for another two reps. The mini break to restore your ATP allowed you to get an extra rep that you wouldn’t have been able to do otherwise. The net result is more exposure to the heavy load over the course of your workout.