Weightlifting Plateau? 7 Training Methods to See Better Results



weightlifting plateau From super sets to negative training, here are 7 ways to break out of a weightlifting plateau.

Everything was going great. You were gaining size and strength while burning fat. And then everything stopped. If you’ve been using the same workout program for too long, you’ve most likely hit a weightlifting plateau.

Let’s take a look at 7 training methods to get you back on track regardless of your fitness and training goals.

Super Sets

If you’ve recently hit a plateau with the results you’re seeing during weightlifting, a super set should be your first stop. It’s the classic way to take your workouts to a new level and it couldn’t be easier to do.

A super set is when you complete one set of an exercise and immediately follow it up with a second set of a different exercise of the same or opposing muscle group. Do not take a break in between sets.

For example: If you want to focus on your chest, you could perform a set of the barbell bench press and immediately go into a set of push-ups.

Tri Sets

Tri sets are the next step up from a super set. As the name implies, you’ll perform three sets back to back to back with no break in between. Again, this can be for the same or opposing muscle groups.

Giant Sets

Giants sets involve four or more sets performed in rapid succession with no break until the end. This type of training method is reserved for burnout or failure sets. Bringing the muscle group to complete exhaustion is the goal of a burnout or failure set, so we recommend saving it for the final set.

For example, let’s say you are working your legs, and you are on your final set. Here’s an example of a giant set:

  • Barbell Back Squats: 12 repetitions
  • Walking Lunges: 10 repetitions
  • Jump Squats: 10 repetitions
  • Jump Rope: 30 seconds

Pyramid Training (Pyramid Set)

Another burnout-based method of training, pyramid training requires you to increase or decrease repetitions in relation to the weight you’re using. The more repetitions you perform, the less weight you use, and vice versa.

Also, similar to super sets and tri sets, you don’t take a break until you’ve completed the pyramid set. This type of set will typically have as few as four levels as many as ten.

For example, if you are performing a pyramid set of bicep curls:

  • 12 repetitions with 15 pounds
  • 8 repetitions with 20 pounds
  • 5 repetitions with 25 pounds
  • 3 repetitions with 30 pounds
  • 5 repetitions with 25 pounds
  • 8 repetitions with 20 pounds
  • 12 repetitions with 15 pounds

5 x 5

It doesn’t get much more straightforward than the 5 x 5 system, but that doesn’t mean it’s easy. With the 5 x 5 system, you perform five sets of five repetitions of an exercise.

The catch is that you have to use a weight that only allows you to perform five repetitions. If you can perform six or seven repetitions, then the weight is too light. In general, this will mean using a weight that is around 85% to 90% of your one-repetition maximum.

For example, if you can perform one repetition of a barbell bench press with perfect form at 250 pounds, but then your form starts to slip and you need assistance, your one-rep max (1RM) is 250 pounds. To calculate 85% of this number, simply multiply 250 by .85, and you’ll get 212.5. If you don’t have weight plates of 2.5 pounds, simply round up (215) or round down (210).

Here is a typical 5 x 5 workout program that you alternate every training day:

WORKOUT A:

  • Squat: 5 sets of 5 repetitions
  • Overhead Press: 5 x 5
  • Deadlift: 5 x 5

WORKOUT B

  • Squat: 5 x 5
  • Bench Press: 5 x 5
  • Barbell Row: 5 x 5

German Volume Training

Also called the 10 x 10 system, German volume training or GVT is as straight forward as the 5 x 5 system. You select one exercise per major muscle group and you perform ten sets of ten repetitions.

Similar to the 5 x 5 system, you need to select the proper weight that allows you to reach ten repetitions – no more, no less. In general, this will be between 50% to 60% of your one-repetition maximum.

Here is an example of a German volume training workout:

Monday: Legs and Abs

  • Squat: 10 sets of 10 repetitions
  • Leg Curl: 10 x 10
  • Cable Crunch: 10 x 10

Tuesday: REST DAY

Wednesday: Chest and Back

Bench Press: 10 x 10

Barbell Row: 10 x 10

Thursday: REST DAY

Friday: Arms and Shoulders

Overhead Press: 10 x 10

Alternating Bicep Curls: 10 x 10

Rope Pushdown: 10 x 10

Saturday and Sunday: REST DAY

Considering the 5 x 5 system or German Volume Training exclusively for size gains? Check out our article on which is better for mass: 5 x 5 vs. German Volume Training?

Negative Training

Let’s finish strong with one of the more difficult training methods to break through a weightlifting plateau: negative training.

In negative training, you use 150% to 200% of your one-repetition maximum. You’ll need a spotter or two for this method. The idea is that your spotters will lift the weight for you, but it’s your job to lower the weight slowly and with perfect control.

This type of training focuses on the eccentric portion of the lift, which has been suggested to be the most important for size and strength gains.

Have You Recently Hit a Weightlifting Plateau?

What was the telltale sign that your progress stopped? Will you try any of these training methods to kickstart your results? If so, which ones? Let us know on our Facebook!

Topic: Training