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5 Ways to Break Through a Plateau

Updated: Apr 10, 2023

If you are someone who has been going to the gym for a while, hitting a plateau is something you can relate to. It is an obstacle that everyone on his or her fitness journey runs into. Let’s be honest, plateaus are frustrating. It is important to just make this a little bump in the road and not let it turn into a mountain you cannot get over–or worse, something that turns you away from your goals. Here are 5 ways to overcome this minor bump and get you right back on track to reaching your goals!

1. Change Your Exercise Order

It is too often that we get comfortable in our exercise routines and end up doing the same thing every time we our in the gym. It is fully understandable that you find exercises that work your muscles well and give you the results that you are looking for, but if you do the same thing every time, you will begin to see diminishing returns. You want to get in the gym, put on your headphones, and get your workout done so we start to put ourselves on autopilot. This is something that is super easy to fix. If you go into the gym and for example, typically you do flat bench, incline dumbbells, and then the fly machine, switch it up to incline dumbbells then fly machine then flat bench. This should shock your body and make you start to see muscular gains again.

2. Change Your Routine Completely

If changing the order of your exercises did not work, maybe it is time to change your exercise completely. Having a personal trainer is a good way to try out different and creative workouts. Just like how exercise order shocks your muscles to keep your body guessing and having to adapt completely overhauling, changing your routine will give your body a major shock. Our bodies are very adaptable–which is why going to the gym adds strength and muscular definition, because our bodies adapt to the strain and have grown our muscles up to withstand the strain. There are so many different kinds of fitness equipment and types of fitness out there that we have no excuse to not shock our bodies. If you are someone who goes into the gym and solely uses free weights, maybe it’s time to switch it up and do body weight exercises and machines. This will shock your system, because your body will be ready to hit dumbbell press and you have it doing push ups, which will hit the muscles in a different way making it once again, have to learn to adapt.

3. Try Working Your Negative

Adding negative to your exercise is a great way to break through a plateau. People who are try to build muscle tend to go as heavy as they can and perform the exercise as quick as possible so they can get as many reps in before their muscles reach exhaustion. This is not necessarily a bad thing, but if you have hit a plateau, it might be time to change your exercise tempo. The negative part of the workout is just as important as the positive. For those of you wondering what the negative is, it is the opposite movement of the exercise you are doing. This means if you are using the lat pulldown machine, the negative would be the part where you are letting the bar go back up to the top. If you are working bench press, this would be lowering the bar down to your chest. Slowing this down will have the muscles working in a new way.

4. Decrease Your Time Between Sets

A good rule of thumb for the gym is to rest in between 30-60 seconds in between sets depending on the amount of weight you are using. It is easy though that when you are halfway through your workout and your body is sore, you begin taking more time between your sets. The major problem with this is that the more time you give your muscles between sets, the more time they have to cool off. The easiest way to fix this is to set a timer on your phone for 30 seconds. As soon as that timer goes off, be ready to start your next set, even if you have to lower the weight.

5. Take a Rest Day

I know this seems counterintuitive if you are not seeing the muscular gains you were seeing earlier in your fitness journey. It is a problem some of us run into, because as we see less muscular growth, we try to workout more often and more intensely. Sometimes, the reason we are not seeing the muscular growth is because we are not giving our muscles adequate time to recover. When you are working out, you are breaking down your muscles and letting them grow back bigger and stronger. If you do not give them time to recover, they will stop growing, because you are not giving them time to repair themselves. For some, taking extra rest days is a tough thing to do since the gym is your home away from home, but it is sometimes necessary.


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