The dreaded plateau will effect just about anybody who exercises in almost any capacity, whether you train for strength, endurance, power there always seem to be a wall which you just cannot kick down! Of course there is such a thing as natural limits which I guess are the point where we cannot go any further, but I do like to believe even if the progress is small you can inch forward bit by bit if you are willing to pay the price.
It is common for beginners and experienced people to both suffer from a similar thing, lack of planning for two very different reasons. The beginner doesn’t know how (yet) and the experience individual has forgot the importance of doing it. The truth is plateaus tend to happen for a reason. There are endless physiological explanations as to why they come about but these are often more ‘’intricate’’ details and ones which might require a whole article per issue. For example, imbalances within your trap (upper over lower) development can mean your bench press won’t improve. However we are addressing ‘’plateaus’’ as a whole for the moment, what can you do to get through them!?
Logging everything is a fantastic place to start! Dorian Yates did this and he is one of the strongest and most successful bodybuilders to ever live. Write down what you were able to lift on every move, how many reps and keep doing this every week. Monitor your calorie intake, macro split and try and workout when and where you are strongest. The idea has to be to start out performing yourself on a consistent basis. If you are doing the same reps with a lighter weight than 3 months ago (and no injuries etc have occurred) then there is something wrong! Progress is the name of the game, but to do that your workouts need to be progressive.
When was the last time you walked in the gym and said to yourself ‘’this is going to be the most intense workout I have ever done!?’’ The thing is, like it or not gains can quite often boil down to the level of intensity you train at. Are you really going for it in your workouts, or are you ‘’hurting with more to give?’’ If you have more left in the tank it might simply be a case of give more, you need to in order to shock your well-conditioned muscles.
Are you training right for your goals? If you want to get stronger what are you doing training with high rep circuits every week? If you want to lift big, then shift big weight (with good form!). Yes, deload weeks to have their place (every 3 weeks or so). Sometimes people plateau because they are training for the wrong things!