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The Fit 5: Break Plateaus and Personal Records

Our expert discloses the secrets to breaking all of your plateaus from deadlifts and overhead squats to scoring a new 5k time.

For all of our fans who shoot us questions on our Facebook page, this one is for you. Each week, we will tap into our pool of editors and experts to help with any questions or challenges you are having with your fitness regimen.

This week, Sean Hyson C.S.C.S., Group Training Director for Muscle & Fitness and Men's Fitness magazines, answers questions about breaking new lift records. Be sure to read up on all of Sean’s articles here on MensFitness.com or in Men’s Fitness and Muscle & Fitness magazines each month. You can also catch Sean on Twitter

1) Bump My Bench— asked by Tom Rigby What’s the best way to increase my bench press, I’ve tried 5x5 with some luck, anything else you’d recommend?
“Gain weight. More muscle mass (and bulk in general) will improve your leverage and help your pressing considerably. But before anything else, make sure your form is tight—your back should be arched, your elbows tucked on the way down, and you need to drive your feet into the floor as you press up. As for programming, try this for six weeks: Work up to a heavy set of 8 reps in one week, then 6 reps the next, and then 4 the third week. Then do seven, five, and three reps for the next three weeks.”

2) New Running Records — asked by Steven Wilbert I’ve always averaged about an 8:30min mile for a 5k over the past 3 months of running 3 days per week. How would you recommend programming to get this down to 7:45 per mile?
"Have a distance day and a speed day. On the distance day, run at a pace that’s slower than your average and increase the length of the run every 2 weeks. On the speed day, run four 400 meters as fast as you can. Increase the number by two every week. Work up until you’re running each 400 faster than the time you want to average per mile."

3) Boost My Deadlift — asked by Joey Larme What moves can help boost my deadlift besides deadlifts themselves? How would you structure a few back workouts?
"Good mornings, Romanian deadlifts, shrugs, hanging leg raises, and back extensions are all good deadlift-builders. Try doing deadlifts first on a lower-body day and follow them with some or all of these exercises. You need strong glutes and hamstrings, strong abs, and a firm grip to pull big weights."

4) Overhead Squat Issues — asked by Jon Blaise My back squat continues to increase, but I can’t seem to go anywhere with my overhead squat. It seems as though my shoulders can’t handle the load. What do you recommend here?
"Practice, and doing more overhead pressing and core work. The overhead squat will expose any weaknesses in your body, so wherever you feel it’s breaking you down is probably the area that needs work. Also, you may need to work on stretching your shoulders so the bar rests more comfortably overhead. It should line up with the back of your head, not the top of your head or forehead."

5) Can't Do Pullups — asked by Ricky Maldonado I can only do 5 pull ups on my own, what can do I do to get my lats stronger so I can get to at least 8?
“Use a band, Pullup Revolution, or other assistive device that unloads some of your body weight and makes pullups easier. Then you can practice with higher reps. "

 

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