Falling into a weight training rut can be very frustrating. You're coming to the gym, working hard, and sweating but not seeing the results that you think you should. It's normal for people to fall into the same routine over and over again however doing this will yield minimal results after a while. If you find yourself in a weight training rut, here are five ways to break it.
1) Lift Heavier
As we participate in a strength training routine we get stronger. As we get stronger, using the same weights will not yield results. We are no overloading our system nor are we progressing the intensity of the exercise. As a general rule, when you can complete 2 or more repetitions beyond your normal reps on the last set of exercise it’s time to increase the weight. An increase of 2.5-5.0 pounds for upper body exercises and 5.0-10.0 pounds for lower body exercises is adequate.
2) Change Your Exercises
If you are doing the same exercises over and over again your body will adapt quickly. It will learn how to perform these exercises more efficiently which means less energy will be used and ultimately fewer calories burned. To keep your body guessing vary your exercises every 4-6 sessions to continue seeing results.
3) Break Away from Machines
Machines are a great place for anyone who is starting a weight training routine. They are safe and allow you to focus on the exercise you are performing without overwhelming you. The downside to machines is that because they are performed on fixed paths, you do not get work to important stabilizer muscles that assist during similar free weight exercises. Start by substituting one or two machines for free weights and then progress form there.
4) Take Less Rest Breaks
It is important to make sure that you allow your muscles to rest in between sets; however there is a vast difference between resting, and checking Facebook on your phone for 10 minutes between sets. By decreasing the time you are resting in between sets you will incorporate an element of muscular endurance during your routine that can help yield better results. Be sure however that when taking a shorter rest break you may need to use less than normal weight as it will feel heavier. Once you have accommodated to these new rest periods, you can start to increase your weights appropriately.
5) Change Your Sets and Reps
3 sets of 10 reps is the absolute most common set and rep range I hear people working in. By altering how many sets and reps you do you are allowing the muscles to work at different intensities that will help you break a rut. In general if you are going to perform more sets and reps a lighter than normal weight should be used. If you are going to do less sets or reps, you can go heavier.