|Posted by Strength & Speed on January 15, 2017 at 10:50 AM|
It is the New Year and while the gym is overflowing with resolution members, chances are if you are reading this you have not stopped going to the gym at all this year. However, your progress may have stalled over the last couple of weeks (or months). How do you break this plateau? The answer is dropping your rep range.
Even if your goal is not to be a powerlifter, anyone looking for a better physique or more strength can benefit from dropping your rep range. Most people have heard that rep ranges of 10 (or 8-12) is the best for hypertrophy or building a physique that looks impressive. While that is still good advice, if you never lower your reps you will most likely stall your progress. By taking some of your complex or compound movements and lowering your rep range to five or below, you will gain strength. Then when you go back to lifting around 10 reps, you will be able to do ten reps but with more weight than you could before.
What rep scheme should you follow? Feel free to look around for powerlifting routines to figure out which one you should follow. I like to do 5x5 for four weeks, 3x3 for two weeks and 2x2 for two weeks. That entire progression takes two months. Afterwards if I am interested, I will do a one rep max test to see how much I have progressed. Although sometimes I just switch back up to a bodybuilding style rep scheme focusing on 8-12 reps.
Whatever scheme you choose, the important thing to do is change things up for a little while to break that plateau. A word of caution, that does not mean do random exercise from week to week with no planned progression. A method many people call muscle confusion will not help getting stronger at specific lifts. For most athletes that are looking for hypertrophy, I recommend this technique once or twice a year. This allows for strength progression while spending the majority of your time focused on the 8-12 rep range.
Another benefit of this plan is crushing some big weights in front of New Year’s Resolutions can help you feel even stronger. After all if you have been working hard all year, this is a good chance to show off your dedication.