How To Break Through Strength Plateaus

How To Break Through Strength Plateaus

Ruthless consistency one of RNTs tenets will help you progress in your training.

Akash Vaghela Akash Vaghela · Feb 27th, 2018

Training Intermediate
4 Mins


    Any long-term reader of ours will know that the biggest mistake we see trainees make is program hopping.

    Jumping from program to program every couple of weeks in search of the ‘secret’ method derails more people’s progress than just about anything.

    I spent years doing this in my early years of training. One month I’d do 6-12-25, the next it’d be 5×5, the following 10×10, and so on. I’d make complete overhauls to the program with the belief that ‘switching it up’ would trigger new muscle growth each time

    How wrong I was. Back then, my training principles were driven by dogma with no grounding principles. If there was one thing I could tell my 18 year old self in regards to training, it’d be to stick to ONE plan, and milk it for what it’s worth.

    As I’ve become more advanced, I change my program less and less, but my results keep getting better.

    An example I always use when discussing this is Adam’s programming. Back in November 2016, I wrote him a program called ‘Xmas Blast’. Fast forward almost 18 months, and he’s STILL on a similar set up, albeit a few very small tweaks.

    My favourite ‘tweak’ to make to a program to encourage further gains is simply to change the rep range.

    I prefer this over changing exercises because it doesn’t require extra skill acquisition or neural learning. Remember, for the first 3-4 weeks of a new exercise, all the fast gains you make on it are purely neural – your body is learning how to coordinate itself to perform the move optimally. Once you’ve learnt the movement, it’s only then that your body will begin to stimulate muscular gains.

    So How Should You Change The Rep Range?

    Let’s say for example you’ve been training bent over rows in the 5 to 7 rep range for the past 8 weeks.

    Here’s how your training logs may look:

    Week 1: 100kg x 7,7
    Week 2: 102.5kg x 7,6
    Week 3: 102.5kg x 7,7
    Week 4: 105kg x 6,5
    Week 5: 105kg x 6,6
    Week 6: 105kg x 7,6
    Week 7: 107.5kg x 5,5
    Week 8: 107.5kg x 5,5

    What you’ll notice is that I like to always start a training cycle at the high end of the rep range being trained.

    As the weeks go by, you should steadily increase the loading until you ‘peak’ at the bottom end of the rep range.

    If at this point you can’t progress further, instead of creating an overhaul in your program, simply back off the loading and ‘start again’.

    So your next 8 weeks may be as follows:

    Week 1: 102.5kg x 7,7
    Week 2: 105kg x 7,6
    Week 3: 105kgx 7,7
    Week 4: 107.5kg x 6,6
    Week 5: 107.5kg x 7,6
    Week 6: 110kg x 6,5
    Week 7: 110kg x 6,6
    Week 8: 112kg x 5,4

    One Step Back, Two Steps Forwards

    This simple method can be rinsed and repeated for a long time, and also adapted to different scenarios.

    Another variation I like to use is to train in a different rep range altogether.

    Let’s continue with our bent over row example. After 8 weeks of maxing out in the 5-7 rep range, you could also reduce the loading a little more and shift your focus into 8-10 rep range for a block of 6-8 weeks.

    Week 1: 92.5kg x 10,10
    Week 2: 95kg x 10,9
    Week 3: 95kg x 10,10
    Week 4: 97.5kg x 9,8
    Week 5: 97.5kg x 10,8
    Week 6: 100kg x 9,7
    Week 7: 100kg x 9,8
    Week 8: 102.5kg x 8,8

    After this block, you can then continue to push loading and go back into the 5-7 rep range.

    It’s essentially a long-term linear cycle of progression, but you’ll be surprised as to how far you can milk this system in your intermediate and early advanced years of training.

    Busting through plateaus for the most part doesn’t require overhauls in your programming. It usually requires a ‘one step back, two steps forward’ patient approach to your training.
    Akash VaghelaAkash Vaghela

    Akash Vaghela has spent 10+ years transforming bodies and lives around the world, and in May 2017, founded RNT Fitness to serve this purpose. His vision is to see a world transformed, where ambitious high performers experience the power of the physical as the vehicle to unlock their real potential. He’s the author of the Amazon best-selling book Transform Your Body Transform Your Life, which explains his unique and proven five-phase methodology, is host of the RNT Fitness Radio podcast, has been featured in the likes of Men’s Health and BBC, whilst regularly speaking across the world on all things transformation.

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